Moving a loved one into hospice care is a very emotional and challenging process. While this must be difficult for your family, it’s important to be there for them and offer your support. However, this is also a time when it’s vital to choose the right hospice care for your loved one’s needs — as with any healthcare decision, asking questions before choosing is essential.
Take a look at eight questions to ask before transitioning to hospice care:
What’s covered by insurance? What are the out-of-pocket costs?
For many people, cost is critical when determining a hospice provider. Discuss pricing when looking for a care team. Many hospice services are covered by insurance, but not all of them. Also, if your loved one is under Medicare, ensure the provider is Medicare-certified. Failing to check on this could cost your family thousands. After you learn what’s provided and covered by insurance, find out what you’ll have to pay. As hospice can be expensive, asking about costs is a vital step.
Is the hospice provider accredited?
Accreditation is another critical topic to discuss. However, not being accredited doesn’t mean a provider is less qualified or of lower quality, but it does help when trying to choose one provider over another. Additionally, accreditation provides peace of mind. When a hospice is accredited, a third party has reviewed its operations and determined they offer a reasonable level of care.
How does the provider handle end-of-life care?
Not all hospice providers handle end-of-life care the same. While many offer similar services, each provider does something differently. It’s essential to learn how they handle each step of the process. For example, you could ask how the provider deals with pain as it increases for the patient. By understanding the kind of support and offerings provided during this very emotional and challenging time, you can better decide on your loved one’s care.
How long has the provider been in operation?
While searching for a hospice provider, you’ll also want to check how long the hospice has been in operation. If they’ve only been around for a few years, you may be more reluctant to give them a call. A provider with a long history of providing high-quality services offers more trust and dependability. While there are other important factors, years in operation is one of the most important. This is a clear metric that shows the provider’s level of experience.
How does the provider respond to emergencies?
A crisis can strike at any time. When there’s an emergency at a hospice, you need to know your loved one’s health and safety will always be a top priority. That said, be sure to ask about how the hospice staff handles emergencies and unexpected events. Do they offer help 24/7? What professionals respond to an emergency? Is there support on holidays and weekends? These are all essential questions to ask before deciding on your loved one’s health plan.
Does the hospice provide any special services?
Not every hospice team offers the same services. Additionally, not every service is covered by insurance. Make sure to check what’s covered and what’s included in your loved one’s care. There may be offerings not covered by insurance, but they may significantly improve discomfort. One example is radiation and chemotherapy for cancer patients. While some providers offer this service, others don’t.
What are some reviews of the hospice care team?
You’ll want to see what others say about the provider. Look online for reviews, ask people you know, and even talk to the provider directly. You can also speak with local hospitals, nursing homes, and other healthcare centers. If you can’t find any positive reviews or testimonials, that’s a serious red flag. This provider will be responsible for keeping your loved one safe and comfortable, so you need to work with a hospice team you can trust.
What does the hospice do differently than other providers?
As you may find several hospice providers that provide the same treatment options and comfort services, making a decision can be a steep mountain to climb. To find the right provider, sometimes it’s best to learn about how the hospice teams differ. After understanding some differentiating factors, you may find a provider that stands out among the rest.
Understanding the right questions to ask when looking for a hospice provider helps you do what’s best for your loved one. After all, keeping them happy and comfortable is the top priority.