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Hospice -- what to ask?

gail p-m

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Tomorrow night a nurse from hospice is coming to the house. Based on your experiences, please tell me what questions to ask? This is so new to me.


gail p-m

PS I did read the posts on the Path Less Travelled about Hospice but could still use more advice.

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Here are a few for you from a list that I got from the National Hospice and Pallative Care Organizations website when we were looking at hospice services for Dad:

1. How does the hospice staff, working with the patient and loved ones, honor the patients wishes?

2. Are family caregivers given information and training they need to care for their loved one at home?

3.Is respite care (relief for caregiver)including inpatient, available?

4. Are loved ones told what to expect in the dying process and what happens after their loved one's death?

5. What is the role of the patient's physican once hospice begins?

6. How (and how often) will the hospice physician oversee our loved one's care and work with the their doctor?

7. How many patients at any one time are assigned to each hospice staff member who will be caring for our loved one?

8.What services do volunteers provide/offer?

9. What screening and type of training do hospice volunteers receive before they are placed with patients and families?

10. Does the hospice staff regularly discuss and routinely evaluate pain control and symptom management with patients and families?

11. Does the hospice staff respond immediately to request for additional pain medications?

12. What specialty or expanded programs does hospice offer?

13. How does hospice meet the emotional and spiritual needs of the family?

14. How quickly does hospice respond to after hour emergencies?

15. How are calls and visits handled when death occurs?

16. Are other services, such as a chaplin or social worker available after hours?

17. Does hospice work with hospitals or other facilities during the patients care?

18. What happens if care cannot be managed at home?

19. What measures does the hospice use to ensure quality?

20. Does the hospice program follow the National Hospice and Pallative Care Organizations "Standard's of Practice for Hospice Programs"?

21. Do hospice professional have special credentials in their area?

22. Is the hospice program certified, licensed and reviewed by the state (if state licensure applies) or Federal government?

23. What other kind of certification or accreditation does the hospice program and/or its staff have?

24. Are all the cost of hospice care covered by the patients health care insurance?

25. What services will the patient have to pay for out-of-pocket? Are any services provided at no charge?

Some other things I can think of based on our hospice experience:

1. How are medications provided (e.g. liquid form vs pill or needles)?

2. If inpatient care is necessary are visiting hours limited?

3. If inpatient care is necessary can the family stay with the patient?

4. For my Dad who was a smoker - it was important that any inpatient facility have a place where he could smoke if he wanted to. The facility he was in would push physically immobile patients (bed and all) out through the french doors of their room and allow them to smoke.

5.Will the staff remain consistent or will it change with each visit?

6. If we do not feel comfortable with a member of the hospice staff or a volunteer can we ask for a different person?

If I think of any others I will post them.

God Bless your family as you begin this new path in your journey! I hope you find a hospice that brings your family peace and comfort!!


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Gail, you are one step ahead of the situation in even thinking about what questions to ask. I really didn't ask too many questions, jusy listened to what they had to say and read all of the great books and literature they left for me. I did inquire about visit schedules, emergency numbers, medications and such. We did talk about whether I should call 911 if things became really bad. The answer to that is, of course, something you will have to decide for yourself. Hospice workers will usually let you know that their mission is to help the patient through what is left of their life rather than use any heroic measures to extend it. Still saying prayers.

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