Choosing a Quality Hospice for You or Your Loved Ones

Choosing a hospice to care for yourself or a loved one in the final months or even days of life is important and can be a stressful process. It is important to know that you have a choice in selecting your hospice provider. The choice is yours to decide which hospice you want to care for you, or your loved one. With multiple hospices serving our community, it can seem challenging to select one. The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) has developed the following questions that may help you identify factors that may be important to you and your family when selecting a hospice. Highlighted in red is what we believe sets us apart at Circle of Life Community Hospice

Has the hospice been surveyed by a state or federal oversight agency in the last two years?

Ask when the last survey was and if any deficiencies were noted and if so, have they been resolved.

Will the hospice share their Family Evaluation of Hospice Care (FEHC) Reports?

Ask if the hospice is willing to share their recent scores from FEHC so you can see how previous family members have rated their services.

Is the hospice a partner in the local Accountable Care Organization?

ACOs are groups of doctors and other health care providers who voluntarily work together with Medicare to give you high quality service and care at the right time in the right setting. Not all hospices participate in a local accountable care organization. (Circle of Life participates in the Renown Health ACO)

Are clinical staff (physicians, nurses, social workers) certified or credentialed in hospice and palliative care?

There are several credentials that hospice professionals can achieve based on their knowledge of hospice/palliative care and their educational experience. (You should expect that the Medical Director of a hospice be hospice/palliative certified.)

How quickly can the intake/admissions staff arrive to begin the admissions process? Is someone available at nights, weekends, or holidays?

Some hospices are able to begin the admissions process at night or on weekends and holidays. If you are referred to hospice late in the day or on the weekend, a hospice’s ability to start services quickly might be very important. (You should expect that an admission can take place within hours of the referral, including medical equipment delivery, whether nights, weekends, or holidays.)

Will staff come to the home if there is a crisis at any time of the day or night and on weekends or holidays? Who is available to make the home visit (nurses, social workers, chaplains)?

Hospice staff is available by phone to help you 24 hours a day, seven days a week. However, some hospices offer limited in- home support on nights and weekends, while others are able to send staff out to a patient’s home no matter when a crisis arises. Frequently a nurse is the best person to make a visit if it is a medical crisis, however, sometimes the crisis is best handled by a social worker, chaplain or another member of the team. Ask if all members of the team are available in a crisis situation during nights and weekends. (Should a need for a hospice intervention or visit occur the family should expect no more than a 30- minute response time from the hospice.)

What “extra” services does the hospice offer?

All hospices provide expert medical care, emotional and spiritual care, medicines, medical supplies and equipment, volunteers and grief support. In addition to these services some hospices offer specialized complementary therapies such as; Healing Touch, Massage Therapy, Music For Relaxation, Pet Therapy, Aromatherapy, Ongoing Bereavement Services etc. (Circle of Life Hospice proudly offers such complementary therapies.)

How long has the hospice been operating in the community? Is the hospice locally owned or a large corporation?

Again, length of time in the community may be important to you and your family, as well as whether or not the agency is a large corporation. (Circle of Life Hospice is locally owned and operated since 1999. Co-Owner, Deb Girard, RN has over 45 years experience in hospice.)

How many patients at any one time are assigned to each hospice staff member who will be caring for the patient?

Hospices assign a certain number of patients to each staff member and may be willing to share that information with you. This might influence your decision to receive care from a hospice. (Circle of Life Hospice prides itself on having the lowest nursing to patient ratio in the area. Smaller case loads allows nurses to spend more quality one on one time with each patient, and be available to respond timely to all needs.

What if I have enrolled with a hospice agency and I am not happy?

Even though you are already enrolled in a hospice program you are free to transfer to another program if the agency you chose isn't meeting the standards of care you expected.

What services do volunteers offer, and if requested, how quickly will a volunteer be available?

Volunteers can provide a variety of services including friendly visits, light household chores, running errands, personal care, etc. If you want a hospice volunteer, be sure to ask how quickly one can be assigned and how they match volunteers to meet your needs.

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

All volunteers must receive training or orientation on hospice care. Some hospices provide specialized training. (Circle of Life Hospice volunteers receive the same screening and training as paid employees.)

Is the hospice a We Honor Veterans Partner?

We Honor Veterans Partners have demonstrated their commitment to improving the care they provide to Veterans and their family members.