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Choosing A Hospice (Part 3)

Frank Lamb

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Choosing a Hospice

It is your right as a consumer to choose or deny hospice services. Choosing hospice, as well as choosing your hospice provider are important decisions for your end-of-life care. There may be one hospice organization, or several that serve your community. It is important to find out about the services that each hospice offers. If there are several hospices that serve your area, you may want to request services from a particular hospice and can communicate that wish to your physician.

How do I decide if hospice is the appropriate care choice for me?

How do I choose among different hospice programs?

Are all hospices the same?

If there is only one hospice program in my community, how do I determine if it is a good one?

These are common questions for patients and loved ones facing life-threatening illnesses. Determining if a hospice is right for you may best be learned from interviewing different hospices and talking to those you trust who are familiar with hospice programs in your area. Resources for information about hospice care in your community include:

Physicians, nurse, and other healthcare professionals;

Social workers, clergy, and other counselors;

Friends or neighbors who have had direct experience with hospice care;

Local or state Office on Aging or senior centers;

Various medical and health-related Internet sites;

Your local yellow pages or directory information; and,

National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization’s HelpLine 800/568.8898 can help you find a hospice in your community or visit the website http://www.caringinfo.org/. Click here to find a hospice.

Questions to Ask When Choosing a Hospice Program

Hospice care is a philosophy of care that accepts dying as a natural part of life. When death is inevitable, hospice seeks neither to hasten nor postpone it. Below is a list of questions you should consider when looking for a hospice program.

What services are provided?

What kind of support is available to the family/caregiver?

What roles do the attending physician and hospice 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?

Can hospice be brought into a nursing home or long-term care facility?

How do I ensure that quality hospice care is provided?

Many hospices use tools to evaluate how well they are doing in relation to quality hospice standards. In addition, most programs conduct family satisfaction surveys to get feedback on the performance of their programs. To assist hospice programs in these efforts, the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization has developed recommended standards entitled 'Standards of Practice for Hospice Programs as one means of self- and field-evaluation.

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