questions to ask hospice

19 Key Questions to Ask Hospice Provider During Interview

With so many options available, discovering the best hospice provider for your loved one can be challenging. By law, all hospices must offer a base level of care and services to their patients. But every hospice approaches these services uniquely. While some facilities go above and beyond for their patients, others do only what’s required.

Finding answers can help you feel more comfortable with the options available and confident in your final decision. Below is a list of the most frequent hospice questions and how to choose a hospice.

How to Choose a Hospice?

When the time comes to determine which hospice care company is best suited for a terminally ill patient or loved one, there are several important aspects to consider. Some factors to weigh are more basic, such as the physical location of the hospice agency. These issues will also enter the equation, like the provider’s reputation with previous clients or how well it understands certain religious and cultural beliefs.

Since the patient’s hospice caregiver and its staff will be core to their quality of care, it should meet whatever hospice criterium that they and their loved ones confirm is most significant. Knowing the answers to these questions will help patients and families in making the most informed when puzzling out how to pick a hospice provider.

19 Most Suggested Questions to Ask Hospice

Below are 19 examples of some of the most common hospice questions to ask your potential provider. They’ll give you a better comprehension of what hospice care is and how it can benefit your family.

1. What do others say about the hospice provider?

Get references both from folks you know and from people in the field –  clinicians, nursing homes, or local hospitals. Ask anyone that has had experience with the hospice and what their impressions are. Geriatric care managers can be a great insider, as they often make referrals to hospice agencies and hear from patients about the care that was delivered. Word of mouth and anecdote won’t make a complete picture, but they’re still valuable data points.

2. How long has the hospice company been in operation?

According to a major consumer publication, hospices with over 10 years of service showcase stability and reliability of service.

3. Are their MDs and RNs certified in palliative care?

Not having it doesn’t mean the staff isn’t competent as experience counts for a lot, but owning this certificate is an indicator of specialized study in palliative medicine/nursing and is a great benefit for patient and family.

questions to ask hospice providers

4. How much will the medical director be included?

Best hospice providers will gladly communicate as required with your neurologist and will make sure your current treatment plan is being followed. Will a physician or nurse practitioner be involved in care to ensure the treatment procedure is being followed and that symptoms are under control. Do certified hospice, and palliative care programs have team meetings regularly, and are they include a medical director automatically?

5. How does the provider track and measure the quality of its service?

Your intention here is to know that hospice staff takes their performance seriously and work hard to improve it. Ask if members of the care team have certifications and additional training for their hospice and palliative care skills. That’s useful to know.

6. What out-of-pocket costs should you expect?

Make sure anything that isn’t covered and will require out-of-pocket payment is made clear upfront.

7. How long is the enrolling process?

Hospice admission has to be efficient and quick. A few questions to ask during a hospice interview include: Can the provider meet with you the same day the hospice recommendation is made by a doctor? Can a patient be admitted to the hospice on weekends, on holiday, or at night?

8. Is the hospice accredited and state-licensed?

At present, a hospice must meet local and state regulations for operating as a business, but accreditation for the quality of the care and services it provides is voluntary. Many hospice programs seek accreditation by the Community Health Accreditation Program or by the Joint Commission, which measures providers’ quality of care against best standards and practices. Anyway, the lack of accreditation doesn’t necessarily mean the quality of care is below par.

hospice choice

9. Is the hospice Medicare-certified?

Most units are certified by Medicare, but it’s highly recommended to make sure before signing any contracts. The hospice agency must be approved by Medicare before any services and fees will be covered. Coverage should involve necessary equipment, home health aides, and counseling/grief support for the family and patient.

10. Can the hospice meet your particular needs?

Is there a clear procedure for sharing concerns with certified staff and ensuring they’re addressed, including a process for escalation if the matter isn’t addressed adequately at lower levels?

11. Does the program provide all four levels of mandatory hospice care?

These include hospice care at home (including a private home, assisted living facility or nursing home); continuous care up to 24 h/day (when medically required); inpatient hospice care (when pain and symptoms can no longer be treated at home); and respite care (up to five days) for caregivers. Does the hospice center deliver all medical equipment, supplies, and medications related to the terminal diagnosis to the patient at no charge? Does the agency provide a 24-hour hotline staffed by trained clinicians to answer your hospice questions and respond during crises or emergencies? Will someone stay with your loved one at the time of death?

12. Does the hospice have special programs to meet the requirements of military Veterans?

Veterans need emotional support that differs from civilians. If you or your loved one is a Veteran, it’s crucial to choose a hospice with the necessary experience required to adequately provide VA hospice benefits to the patient. Specifically, partners in the We Honor Veterans program have proven a commitment to this sort of care.

hospice questions

13. Does the hospice provide extra service beyond those required?

Some services aren’t required by Medicare but may be useful to enhance the comfort of a patient. An example is a chemotherapy and/or radiation for a cancer patient to reduce the size of a tumor and ameliorate pain. Certain hospice care providers wouldn’t be able to afford to do this, but others with higher budgets could.

14. Are there medications, services, or equipment that the hospice doesn’t offer?

There can be variations in what supplies or treatments hospice companies cover or provide. Ask about all your older adults’ necessary treatments, medications, equipment, and supplies to ensure they’ll be covered and supplied by hospice.

15. Which therapeutic services are provided?

Hospice workers can do more than offer pain medication and help with bathing and feeding. They can actually provide many forms of therapeutic care that can ease physical pain and help soothe a patient emotionally and mentally. Massage therapy is a popular choice for many families, as is music therapy. Ask potential hospice staff what therapeutic care they can deliver. If you have already begun with hospice care, ask the agency if they have therapeutic services to complement care or if they can recommend a provider or service.

16. Can you schedule visits with a chaplain?

Many people at the end of life phase struggle with spiritual issues. Some may feel guilt or regret about things they have done, and some may be afraid of what’s to come. Some may be grappling with questions about faith. Family members can experience all of these things, also. Ask hospice workers if you can schedule visits with a priest, chaplain, or other spiritual leaders. You’ll have the option to schedule the visits for your loved one or family members. Many find this spiritual counseling to be helpful during this transitional period.

17. What are the options for inpatient care?

Patients being cared for at home may have to go to an inpatient unit to treat acute symptoms or give their family respite. Facilities can differ from the hospice having its own private inpatient unit to leased beds in a nursing home or hospital. Visit the providers to ensure that they’re conveniently located and that you’re comfortable with what they offer.

18. What is the expectation of the family’s role in caregiving?

Double-check if what the hospice expects from family members is compatible with what the family can do.

19. What type of bereavement service does the hospice provide?

Grief support forms can vary broadly and may involve support groups, individual counseling, outreach letters, and educational materials.

how to choose hospice care