At some point in our lives, almost all of us would benefit from hospice care. But how do you decide which hospice provider to choose when they all seem so similar? The American Hospice Foundation put together a list of questions you can use to find out if your needs and situation match-up with the capabilities and services provided by a specific hospice provider. Here’s what to ask in order to make an informed decision.
How long have they been in operation?
The takeaway from this question is to find out if the hospice provider is relatively new to your area. If this is the case, they lack the stability of other providers who have years of proven service. New providers also introduce the possibility that they won’t still be around when you need them, or that they’ll halt operations while your loved one is still under their care. Be wary of hospice providers with less than 6-months of history.
What are their references?
Another reason newer hospice providers are risky is because it’s more difficult to talk to physicians and families who have worked with them in the past. Without these references, it’s extremely difficult to rely on these providers with confidence. Before you make a decision, be sure to ask around and find out what others’ impressions are.
What is a typical response time for nights and weekends?
Illness doesn’t work a typical work schedule so it’s important for your provider to be available and respond quickly any time you might need them. A qualified hospice will ask their clients about response times and whether their staff was adequately available to the family and patient. That means the provider you’re speaking with should already know what their response is like. For many, this can be a make or break question so be sure you have a quoted response time for any provider you’re considering.
What are treatment limitations?
Depending on the hospice provider being considered and a patient’s illness, there may be a disconnect between the treatments currently being done for a patient that could not be considered by the hospice team. In many cases, the patient can simply continue seeing their own doctor, but it’s important to understand these limitations before making any changes in care.
What are their accreditations and certifications?
If the patient considering hospice care is a Medicare beneficiary, it’s essential that the provider they choose is Medicare-certified in order to permit reimbursement. For many patients, this consideration alone can help to narrow the list of provider options. Additionally, some states require their own licensure for hospice providers, so if you live in one of these states, be sure a provider is compliant. JCAHO or CHAP accreditations are not required, however they could give you peace of mind. Knowing that a provider has an accreditation lets you know that they’ve been reviewed and determined to provide a reasonable standard of care.
Don’t wait until a crisis to begin researching and interviewing hospice providers. If care needs to begin immediately, it can be difficult to properly assess your options. If possible, start your research at the first signs of a serious illness, or when a loved one reaches a certain age. Even if you don’t need a hospice providers for another few years, the information you gathered will come in handy.
To learn more about Cura-HPC, our services, philosophy and capabilities, don’t hesitate to contact us at (800)797-3839.