5 Things to Look for in a Hospice Care Program

A hospice caregiver wraps a blanket around a senior woman.

You and your family have decided it’s time to start hospice. You want to choose a hospice care program that’s right for you, so you can make the most of this final season of life. 

Hospice is a form of palliative care for those diagnosed with six months or less to live. Hospice care provides what is included in palliative care, but it only occurs after disease treatment has stopped. As you look at hospice programs, you’ll want to compare the caregiving services offered, as well as the reputation of each agency. 

Here are five things to keep in mind as you look for hospice.

1. Services Available

Before you choose a hospice agency, you’ll want to know what types of care they offer and where they provide this care. Do they offer personal care? Can they provide in-home hospice care? Many hospice programs provide the same base services, but some may charge fees for extra services you may need. 

Check for these services and benefits: 

  • Help with activities of daily living 
  • Hospice-provided medical equipment 
  • Respite care for family members
  • Bereavement programs

2. Accreditation

All hospices have to meet state and local regulations, but some may seek further accreditation. To gain accreditation, a hospice program must meet set standards for the quality of its patient care. 

Look for these certifications: 

  • Accreditation Commission for Health Care (ACHC)
  • Community Health Accreditation Partner (CHAP)
  • We Honor Veterans Partner
  • National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization

If you plan to pay for hospice with Medicare, you should check to see if the hospice program is Medicare-certified.

3. Staff

A team of doctors, nurses, and volunteers will provide your care. As you browse hospice programs, look for the qualifications of each hospice’s staff. Will you be cared for by a registered nurse? Are staff members trained to provide personal care as well as medical care? 

Seek these personnel:

  • Registered nurses
  • Personal care aides
  • Chaplains 
  • Grief counselors

4. Expectations for Family

What care is your family able to provide? Hospice will work with you and your family to create a care plan that involves everyone. Your family and hospice staff can work hand in hand to provide you the support you need. Make sure you know the hospice’s expectations for family participation.

5. Crisis Response Process

You never know when an emergency will strike. You may need immediate assistance after hours or on the weekends. What process does your hospice have in place for emergencies? Many hospices offer 24-hour support by phone. Before you choose a hospice, ask how you can contact a hospice staff member if need be.

How to Choose A Hospice  

There are many hospice programs available, and there are likely several to choose from in your area. How can you know which program will be right for you? 

    • Compare. Research each hospice and compare things like the services, accreditation, and staff. You can easily compare agencies across the country with Medicare’s Hospice Compare tool.  
    • Talk to others. While many hospices will offer up references, the best way to receive recommendations is by word of mouth. Talk to your friends and family who have experienced hospice. What did they like or dislike about the provider? What services or types of care did they receive?
    • Ask questions. Most hospice agencies will meet with you and your loved ones before you commit. You can treat these meetings as interviews for your future hospice provider. It’s the perfect time to ask about the hospice’s resources and services. The Hospice Foundation of America provides this list of questions to get you started.

About Seasons Hospice

Are you looking for quality hospice care that you can afford? 

With Seasons Springfield, you don’t have to worry about the cost of care. Our care is free for all who need it. We offer personal and medical care, as well as spiritual comfort, so you and your family can cherish this final phase of life. 

Contact Seasons Springfield today to talk with a representative and learn more about our free hospice services.

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Seasons Hospice is an independent community health care provider, not a large for-profit organization. We would not be able to offer our hospice services if we did not have the support of passionate community members who understand the importance of cost-free hospice care. To simplify the hospice process for patients and families, we rely on the generosity of our donors.