Medicare-certified hospices are required to offer the same basic services, but there are differences between hospice providers that can make a difference to patients and their circles of support. Here are five things you should consider when choosing a hospice provider:
Which standards do they follow to ensure quality care?
Some hospice providers hold themselves to higher quality standards than what Medicare requires. Is the hospice provider a member of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO), and do they comply with their Standards for Hospice Programs? Is the hospice provider accredited by an objective third party, such as the Community Health Accreditation Partner (CHAP)? If so, this indicates a commitment to quality care beyond what Medicare requires. This can greatly affect your hospice experience.
Which services do they provide?
All Medicare-certified hospice providers are required to provide patients with expert medical care, emotional and spiritual support, medication, medical equipment and supplies, volunteer support, and bereavement care. However, some hospice providers — like Hospice of the Northwest — also provide specialized care for pediatric patients and veterans. Thanks to the generosity of our community supporters, we also offer integrative services like massage therapy, energy work, therapeutic music, and more. Integrative services can provide deeper levels of comfort for patients and enhance their care in surprising ways.
What about the provider’s history and reputation?
How long has the provider served patients in your community? Does it hire its own employees to provide care, or does it contract with other agencies? What do other patients and families say about their experiences with this provider? Is the hospice owned privately (for profit) or is it a not-for-profit? Medicare offers a useful resource for people to compare hospices in their area. Compiled by anonymous, third-party surveys, these quality indicators help people obtain a more objective assessment of what they might experience with a hospice provider.
What effort does the provider put towards ensuring diversity, equity, and inclusivity?
Some hospice providers focus more on their local community and its needs. How does the provider ensure it meets the needs of people who don’t speak English or who have diverse cultural and/or religious needs? Will they respect patients and their circles of support who may be members of the LGBTQIA+ community? Is their team trained in the most effective ways to support people from different cultural groups? Is the organization committed to these principles?
How will the provider respond to urgent needs?
Some hospice providers only use medications sent by mail to the home or facility. This can sometimes cause a delay in comfort. Can you use your preferred pharmacy — the one you have a relationship with and whose staff know your history and needs? Will a nurse or counselor come out in the middle of the night if symptoms worsen or someone needs extra support? Some hospice providers only have a nurse working after hours and on weekends. Will you have to leave a voicemail when you call at 2 a.m., or do they ensure a professional will answer your call?
Choosing the right hospice provider can make a significant difference to the overall care a person receives. It is important that you feel comfortable asking their staff questions that are most important to you. This is obviously a big decision! If you think Hospice of the Northwest might be the right hospice provider for you or someone you love, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We care about you.