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Choosing the Right Hospice

The decision to start hospice and trying to choose the right hospice is not an easy task. For many, there is an overwhelming sense of sadness when this decision is made. However, most people soon realize what a tremendous help hospice can be to a patient and family members.

The importance of choosing a suitable hospice is critical for you and your family. Many physicians will make recommendations for hospices and most hospitals and insurances groups operate their own divisions of hospice. You have the right to choose any hospice you want, and your doctor must respect that right.

Commonly Asked Questions:

  • What is hospice?
  • Are all hospices the same?
  • How do I decide what is right for me?
  • Who pays for the service?

Hospice is a compassionate service for those with a life-limiting disease or illness. The focus is comforting, not curing, the patient through pain management, medical care, and emotional and spiritual support based on the patient's wishes and needs. The patient's loved ones will also receive support from these services.

If you are looking for the best hospice for you, ask the nurses and doctors within your care team and at the potential companies you are reviewing what services would be provided for your specific needs. You need to make sure that you are asking these questions so that your treatment and the support you and loved ones will need is a good fit for you. The care that you receive should be tailored to you and your needs. If an individual service cannot provide this, then it is not the right choice for you.

Talking to local aging services, hospital staff, and charities can also assist you with your search to find the right company. No one should force you into a decision; they should only offer advice.

In the midst of your research, contact several different companies. They can give expert advice and answer the questions you may have about hospice care for you.

The Benefits of Hospice Care

For many, there are a plethora of benefits to choosing to undergo hospice care. One of the main benefits is that the patient receives a robust care package. This is something that other care settings cannot always deliver. In addition, there are more specialists to deal with the terminal diagnosis of the patient. The caregivers who work for the company are specially trained to deal with the illnesses of the patients in their care. They are able to tackle issues of grief and help patients and families work through these, as well as educate everyone involved about the death and dying process.

Some patients and families will seek out hospices because they can obtain additional care. This means regardless of holidays, weekends and night shifts; they can still get the care that they deserve and need. These companies offer people dignity and tender loving care when it is needed most. Having constant access to expert care and facilities provides comfort to families and individuals who need additional support.

Hospices can also lessen the financial burden to those who are struggling to pay for medical care. Insurance and Medicare usually pay for medical care, medication, and equipment related to the hospice diagnosis and treatment. Be aware, there are things that Medicare won't pay for once a patient is on hospice.

  • Treatment to cure a terminal illness
  • Prescription medication to cure a terminal illness
  • Room and board- Medicare will pay for short term inpatient or respite stays in a facility if the team determines that it is necessary
  • Emergency Room, Inpatient Facility Care, or transportation by an ambulance

Remember, when this type of care is chosen, it means that the patient no longer wants to treat their terminal diagnosis and the focus becomes “comfort care”. Any patient has the right to stop hospice care at any time.

9 Comments

  1. My Mother was 98 when Hospice was called in by her PA. The health care she was in suggested a different one which we accepted, can you suggest or give us names of Hospice care in Rio Rancho, NM. that you would recommend as my sister and I may need it soon.
  2. I had heard that hospice services were a great service, and I was really curious as to how a family would choose one. In the article it states that hospice services offer care constantly, even during the holiday’s. This would be wonderful for families, as these services might be needed at inconvenient times.
    1. There is a lot of variability. Holidays – especially Christmas- can be very difficult. The needs of a person can rapidly change, and it is hard to get the same staff every day during these times. A lot more knowledge and guidance would be helpful. Some conditions rapidly change, while others can be stable for a long time.
  3. This is some great information, and I appreciate your point that hospice care is focused on comforting the patient, not curing. My mother is getting older, and her health is failing, but it’s nothing that can really be cured. I’d like her to be as comfortable as possible for this part of her life, so I’ll definitely look for a good hospice service that would give her the care she needs. Thanks for the great post!
  4. I appreciate your tip on how a hospice can provide a more robust care package than other care settings. It would seem that with trained staff and specialists you would be able to get more quality care than normally. My parents have been having some health trouble recently, maybe we should look into putting them into a hospice to help them recover.
  5. I’m probably going to have to choose a hospice soon for my mom. She’s still pretty independent, but she has Alzheimer’s and I worry about her. I don’t want to place her in an old folks home because I know she’d prefer her own home. I really like the tip about asking the nurses and doctors in your care team for suggestions. I want to choose a hospice who will get along well with my mom, and I feel like her nurses could definitely give me some helpful recommendations. They know her so well! Megan
  6. Your information is so good, Amie. It’s sad that many hesitate to call hospice or wait until it’s too late because they don’t want to feel they’re conveying a death sentence to parents,. Knowing some facts may help: Many people do get better with hospice care then are “graduated” by hospice because they no longer qualify. Involving hospice care is not confirmation that someone is going to die within 6 months. It does mean terminally ill people are able to remain comfortably in their home and die in their home with special care to keep them comfortable. I addressed this aspect in a post: http://helpparentsagewell.com/2012/03/24/aging-parents-and-hospice-to-call-not-to-call-when-to-call/ if you’re interested.
    1. Thanks Susan! I completely agree- most folks do wait too long to see all the benefits of hospice. I have seen so many clients “graduate” from hospice as well, many times once all those meds are discontinued! Thanks for stopping by and for the great article you provided as well.

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