Senior Citizen's Guide digital books
Senior Citizen's Guide

Choosing Hospice Care

Many people ask, "How do I choose a hospice agency?"  While Hospice is considered a wonderful service to many, all hospices are not the same.  Remember, there is more than one hospice agency, so conduct careful and detailed research on your local hospice agencies.  Here are some points to consider:

  1. References – Friends and associates can be valuable sources of information since many have had personal experience with hospice agencies or know others who have.  Your physician and your church will also have information on hospice agencies.

  2. Licensed and Certified – Make sure your hospice is state licensed and Medicare certified so that it meets certain requirements in terms of the services it offers to patients and their families.

  3. Adequate Staffing – Find out if the agency will assign a specific RN case manager, social worker, chaplain and home health aide to the patient or will the agency rotate its staff members based on the agency's convenience for staff scheduling?  This is where Hospice agencies can vary.  Insist on having continuity and consistency in order to allow for the Hospice to build a meaningful rapport with the patient and family.

  4. Convenience – Where is the hospice located?  Where does the staff that is on your case live?  It is important to know how far away the on-call nurse lives to the patient in the case of an emergency.

  5. Education for the family – Hospice care extends beyond the patient to offer support for the family as well.  A good hospice is committed to educating the public about end-of-life care, as well as provides educational support materials for families and loved ones.

Some final thoughts:  How long have they been serving the community?  Do they have the confidence of the Medical Community?  Is the Administrator accessible to ask questions?

It is important for the public to educate themselves about Hospice care and services because many people access Hospice too late.  Many times people do not think of hospice care until the patient is in the active state of dying.  This is unfortunate since the patient could have been receiving support and services for months prior to this stage.

Whichever Hospice you choose, always remember that who you choose to care for your loved one is always your choice.

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