Choosing a Hospice Care Provider

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Once you have decided that Hospice is the right care option for you or your loved one, there are a number of issues to address before choosing a specific program or provider. The best way to find a quality hospice provider is through a recommendation from a friend, family member, or health care professional-such as a social worker or hospital discharge planner.

While deciding on the program that is right for your family, look into any accreditations, certifications, or licensures that the program has received. JCAHO (Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations) is a not-for-profit organization that provides accreditation for health care organizations and programs. You can contact them at 630-792-5000 or www.jcaho.org for more information about specific programs.

Whether or not the program is Medicare certified is also important. Programs certified by Medicare have met certain minimum requirements for operation. If your state has licensure requirements, inquire to ensure that the provider has met all those requirements.

After establishing that an agency meets certain minimum requirements, request that they send you any brochures or written materials; specifically request information on services, costs, payment procedures, and liability insurance coverage. In addition to this basic information, ask if the provider can supply references from professionals in your community.

Before arranging for services or signing a contract with any specific provider, you may want to ask the following questions. These questions will help you compare services and programs and decide what is most important for you and your family.

. Does the agency create a plan of care for each new patient?

. Does the hospice require a designated family primary caregiver as a condition of admission?

. Does a nurse, social worker, or therapist conduct a preliminary evaluation of the types of services the patient needs?

. What resources does the agency provide to help you find financial assistance if it is needed?

. Does the agency have a 24-hour telephone number you can call when you have questions?

. Does the agency have an emergency plan in place in case of a power failure or natural disaster?

. Does the hospice provide medical equipment or other items that might enhance the patient’s quality of life?

. Does the agency train, supervise, and monitor its caregivers? Ask how often the agency sends a supervisor to the patient’s home to review the care being given to the patient.

. What are the program’s policies regarding inpatient care?

. Where is inpatient care provided?

. What are the requirements for an inpatient admission?

Article adapted and questions taken from the American Cancer Society’s website. For more information, visit http://www.cancer.org.

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