How to Find a Hospice Provider?

Selecting a Hospice Provider

Just like selecting any other medical care, if you or someone you care about needs the support of hospice, it is important to find a provider that is a good fit. Click here to learn more about hospice care. There may be a number of organizations that provide care in your area, and the following questions may help you identify which one is the best fit for you and your family:

  • From the time a referral is made, how long does it take on average for everything to be in place. How quickly can care begin?
  • Is the hospice a for-profit or non-profit organization?
  • If I want to continue seeing my personal physician, is this possible? If so, how does the hospice team keep my physician updated?
  • On average, how many other patients will the hospice nurse be caring for? The lower the number the better.
  • How large is the geographic area that the hospice team covers?  This isn’t related to the geographic area that the hospice organization covers, but how large of an area will the hospice team assigned to me cover.  Ideally, you want the hospice to have enough patients in your area so the team doesn’t have to travel great distances.

Respecting diversity, including religious and cultural traditions at end-of-life.

  • Are the hospice staff knowledgeable and trained to support my religious beliefs or cultural traditions?
  • Does the hospice team speak the same language as my family or loved one?
  • Does the hospice provide interpreters?
  • Does the hospice prioritize diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice?
  • Do they have a racially diverse workforce?
  • Is the hospice able to accommodate disabled patients or loved ones? Do they have ASL interpreters?
  • Are they equipped to support individuals with physical, sensory, cognitive, and psychological disabilities in addition to their terminal illness?

Understanding costs, medication, supplies and coverage.

  • If you are under the age of 65 with private insurance, can the hospice provider help determine what services will be covered, and what will not?
  • If you take medications and you want to continue taking them, will this be allowed? How will these medications be covered?
  • What supplies and equipment will be provided?
  • If you live in a long-term care facility or nursing home, can the hospice organization provide care at that community? A hospice organization needs to have a contract with a long-term care facility to provide services.
  • If you are a Veteran, will the hospice take your VA benefits? Do they provide any additional support for veterans?
  • If you are uninsured is the hospice equipped to provide charity care or sliding scale fees?
  • Are you undocumented? Is the hospice able to provide care in this situation? Are they well-informed about public charge concerns and other issues affecting mixed status families?

Support for the family and caregiver.

  • How do you support my family after our loved one dies? Who provides the support and for how long?
  • Do you provide referrals for support in my community?
  • Do you have relationships with caregiver agencies/city/social services who can provide additional help?

Most hospice care takes place in the home. Respite care is a hospice benefit that allows the care team to temporarily take over duties for the primary caregiver. This allows a family caregiver the time they need to take care of themself or cover other responsibilities.

  • Does the hospice provide respite care? If so, how and where is this provided?
  • Some hospices have an inpatient unit that provides the respite stay. Others may use a bed at a long-term care facility. Which facilities does the hospice organization use? Would you be comfortable going there?

Managing pain

  • If you experience pain or symptoms in the middle of the night, how will the hospice respond?
  • If you have symptoms that cannot be managed at home, some hospices have their own inpatient centers where you will go until the symptoms are under control. Other hospices have relationships with hospitals in their area. How does this hospice handle these situations?

Medicare also has a website, Care Compare that provides lists and ratings of hospice providers, based on customer ratings/feedback, that you can use to evaluate hospices.

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