Families making decisions about hospice care may sometimes feel rushed and ill-informed about their options. Finding the right care at the right time requires clear and honest conversations before choosing a provider.
When you understand your own goals and priorities, conversations with doctors and hospice providers are more productive. Some patients value awareness more than eliminating all their pain. Patients may want to realize a dream trip, while others cherish the comforts of home. Ask lots of questions and let your voice be heard.
Make a written list of questions to ask potential hospice providers. Medical and family situations can change during end-of-life care. Ask how the plan adapts to your needs.
- How often will staff visit?
- What medical equipment and personal supplies are provided?
- How will you manage pain and other symptoms?
- Does Medicare cover hospice services or medications?
- What if we need emergency care?
- What family support services do you offer?
- Is the staff experienced with specific illnesses?
- Are there support services for veterans (PDF, 360 KB)?
- What staff qualifications or training do you require? RNs? Aides? Volunteers?
- Is care available after business hours and on weekends?
- What if we're not happy with nurses or other staff?
- If we need inpatient care or respite care, what are our options?
Web searches will help you find local providers. Your doctor may know the providers in your area, but the final choice is yours.
- Compassus locations finder
- Hospice providers from NHPCO
- Get started with a list of questions for providers (PDF, 340 KB)
- How to choose - From Hospice Foundation of America
Medicare requires a standard list of services from all Medicare-approved hospice providers. While services are similar, a hospice may have more experience with a medical condition.
Changing your hospice provider
If you're not satisfied with your care, Medicare and insurance providers enable you to transfer to a new hospice. You can also decide to end comfort care at any time and return to medical treatments for a life-limiting illness.