Selecting A Provider
Patients have a right to choose their own hospice provider. And, ideally, hospice care should begin while there is still time for the patient and his or her family to identify and pursue the goals which are most important to the patient during this end-of-life time.
When a patient and/or the patient’s family determine hospice care is an option, information can be obtained from a variety of sources. The patient’s doctor, or the family physician, can provide a list of available hospice providers in the community. If the patient is in the hospital, the hospital’s social worker, discharge planner, or case manager can also provide a list of resources in the community. Also, consultation with friends who have used hospice services in the area will give added information in the light of their personal experiences.
After talking with physicians and friends, contact the hospice provider(s) under consideration and ask the following questions.
- What is the hospice’s patient-to-care provider ratio for each hospice discipline?
- What is the average frequency of home hospice visits?
- What is the response time and procedure for after-hours needs? Is there a 24-hour telephone number for questions?
- What is the likelihood of having the same care providers over time?
- Will a written treatment plan listing specific duties, work days/hours and contact information be given to all service providers attending to the patient, including the family?
- Is the hospice program Medicare certified?
- Is the hospice program licensed by the state? And, are care providers licensed?
- Will the hospice program provide references that are willing to be contacted?
- How flexible is the hospice provider when applying its policies to each patient or negotiating over differences?
- Does a nurse, social worker or therapist conduct a preliminary evaluation of the types of services needed in the patient’s home?
- How much responsibility is expected of the patient’s caregiver?
- What kind of respite care can the hospice program provide to the patient’s caregiver?
- Check with the Better Business Bureau, Consumer Bureau and the Attorney General’s office to see if there have been any complaints or censure regarding the providers in which you are interested.