It’s never too early to learn if hospice care is appropriate for you or someone you care about — you can contact a local hospice provider to inquire about their services to begin the process.
Hospice staff will then contact the patient’s physician to determine if a referral to hospice is appropriate. Another way to inquire about hospice is to talk with your physician and they can make a referral to hospice.
Usually, care is ready to begin within a day or two of a referral. However, in urgent situations, service may begin sooner. Hospice can begin as soon as the hospice nurse visits to make sure you meet hospice guidelines. The hospice nurse will also review the services the hospice offers and get any necessary consent forms signed.
Choosing a hospice
There may be one or several hospices that serve your community. It is important to learn about the services that each hospice offers. If there are several hospices that serve your area, you may request services from a particular hospice and you can let your physician know your choice.
Questions to ask when choosing a hospice:
- What services are provided?
- What kind of support is available to the family/inner circle/caregiver?
- What roles does my personal physician and the hospice physician play?
- What does the hospice volunteer do?
- How does hospice work to keep the patient comfortable?
- How are services provided after hours?
- How and where does hospice provide short-term inpatient care?
- With which nursing homes or long-term care facilities does the hospice work?
- How long does it typically take the hospice to enroll someone once the request for services is made?
Evaluating a hospice to find out if they provide excellent care
Many hospices use tools to let them see how well they are doing in relation to providing quality hospice care.
Most hospice programs use family satisfaction surveys to obtain feedback about their services so they can make improvements. Ask the hospice to share a summary of their family satisfaction scores for the last several months with you. You can also ask to see their latest state or Medicare inspection report to see if there are care provision problems. Finally, you could ask to see the hospice provider’s list of complaints from the past 12 months.
NHPCO’s Standards of Practice for Hospice Programs is one way of ensuring quality. NHPCO also offers hospices a tool to do a self-evaluation of their program compared to the NHPCO Standards.
Ask the hospice if they have completed a self-assessment using the NHPCO Standards.
State and federal reviewers inspect and evaluate hospices
There are state licensure requirements that must be met by hospice programs in order for them to deliver care. In addition, hospices must comply with federal regulations in order to be approved for reimbursement under Medicare. Hospices must periodically undergo inspection to be sure they are meeting regulatory standards in order to maintain their license to operate and the certification that permits Medicare reimbursement.
Finding a Hospice
Use NHPCO’s Find a Care Provider tool to find a hospice in your community or call National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization’s InfoLine at 800.568.8898.