Hospice care is a service, covered by Medicare, designed to serve patients in the last six months of life. The holistic approach to care ensures that a patient’s medical, emotional, and spiritual needs are fulfilled. The hospice team also addresses the needs of the caregiver and family supporting the patient. To learn more about hospice care, contact your physician for a referral, or visit Caring Connections to search for hospice providers in your area.
Here are some suggestions to help you prepare for your hospice evaluation.
Once you call the hospice provider, you’ll make an appointment to meet with the hospice representative. He/she will be determining whether or not you are eligible for hospice services.
Be ready to give the hospice provider some of your healthcare basics. They’ll need the full name of the patient, the patient’s address, and a telephone number for the patient’s medical power of attorney. The hospice is also likely to request the name and phone numbers of your physicians and the patient’s primary diagnosis. The primary diagnosis is the reason you’re requesting hospice services, such as cancer, dementia, congestive heart failure, etc.
Just like you might research a big purchase before buying, or research a neighborhood before moving, you can research and compare hospice providers. Medicare requires providers offer the same core services, so you’ll want to focus on the quality of care that will be provided to you and your loved one.
Look for data. Ask questions.
When was the hospice established?
How soon did the hospice respond to your request for an evaluation?
How many patients, on average, does the RN case manager see?
What is the hospice’s average response time to a call—during office hours and after hours?
How many hospice physicians are on staff, and what is their experience and qualifications?
How many nurses are certified hospice and palliative care nurses?
Can the chaplains connect you and your loved one to your preferred faith community?
What is the experience level of your social worker?
Is there an inpatient unit? Where is it located, and how is it staffed?
You can also use this helpful, downloadable pdf from Caring Connections to guide your meeting with hospice providers. The Choosing a Quality Hospice pdf was developed by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, and provides a number of questions and space for you to take notes.
The end of life is a sensitive, emotional time. You want to choose the hospice provider who can respect and support your loved one’s needs and your needs. The goal is to offer your loved one comfort, peace, and dignity in the last months of life.
Learn more about the benefits available to you with this pdf download of the Medicare Hospice Benefits booklet, provided by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid.
If you are seeking hospice in the Tucson, Arizona area, Casa de la Luz Hospice would be happy to offer you information regarding our services or answer any questions you might have about hospice care. We can be reached at 520-544-9890 every day of the week, any time of day.
Information provided by Jane O’Mahen, Admission Nurse for Casa de la Luz Hospice