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August 2017: Choosing a Hospice Provider or Facility - What To Look For, Questions to Ask

​Knowing when it’s time for hospice—for yourself or a loved one—is one among many difficult decisions to make at the end of life. But, making the right choice of a hospice provider or residence can make a tremendous difference in how a patient and one’s family and friends experience this very significant phase in one’s life.

As we’ve written in a previous post, people usually enter hospice once it is determined that further medical treatment or procedures will not provide a cure and lifesaving measures will not be pursued. Accepting that recovery is not possible opens doors to a new phase of care, with hospice’s holistic approach to providing quality time for as long as that person has. 

There are several ways to access hospice services—in the home, in a healthcare environment such as hospital or nursing home, or in a hospice residence. Regardless of the setting, of vital importance is that the patient finds peace of mind with immediate availability of trained medical practitioners and supportive services such as pastoral counselors or various integrative therapies (e.g., music therapy, canine therapy, massage or aromatherapy are examples of these).

What to look for when looking for hospice care
Whether you’ve received a referral from a medical provider or social worker, a family member or a friend, it’s important to know what to ask when you are exploring hospice care and providers. With the patient’s comfort and safety at the top of the list, you should ask these questions:

  • Are there registered nurses on staff and, if you are looking at a residence or medical facility, are the RNs available on site and on duty 24/7?  Nurses provide a range of care services in a hospice environment, from intake to case management. While there are other caregivers on staff, having the RN who is specially trained in hospice care is a critical component of the patient’s care plan. For people receiving hospice services in the home, ask about other nursing professionals on staff such as triage and visiting nurses.
  • Does the facility have enough licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and/or home health aides available at a moment’s notice to attend to all of personal needs? This is no time for anyone to be waiting for personal care, from hygiene issues or bedding changes to feeding or medication administration.
  • It’s important to address the facility’s staff-to-resident ratio. How many nurses to residents are there? How many LPNs and aides to residents?
  • Do the charges you're being quoted cover all that you may need now and in the future?  
  • Is the food prepared for you…or for everyone?  Patients all have specific dietary preferences or requirements and the meals that are available should reflect this.
  • Are there private rooms available? Many hospice patients may prefer the privacy of a single room when available or when insurance will cover this option. Residences that offer more of a hotel-like setting help the patient feel more at home and at ease with the physical, mental and emotional changes they may undergo.  Others that have shared rooms should have procedures in place to preserve each patient’s privacy as much as possible, especially when administering personal care activities.

At Center for Hope, we offer a range of hospice services that are focused on providing the utmost comfort and care for each and every patient we serve. For information about hospice in our residences or in the community, contact us at (908) 889-7780.