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Choosing Hospice Care
Hospice care is an end-of-life comfort program for the terminally ill. Generally individuals are consider candidates for hospice care when there are no longer any benefit from existing medical treatments or therapies. Depending on your state, patients are eligible for hospice care when they have been diagnosed with a terminal illness with a prognosis of 6 months or less to live. At that time comfort care and symptom management become the primary focus, and curative treatment is no longer the patient’s choice or option.
As you can imagine, by the time hospice care is being considered emotions are likely raw. But just like anything else, it’s critical to comparison shop when looking into a hospice care setting. They are not all created equal.
Different Types of Hospice Care
1. Adult hospice
2. Pediatric hospice for children 1- 21 yrs of age
3. Faith based hospice programs
4. Community based hospice programs
There are approximately 5,000 hospice care providers across the United States, so choosing the right one can be complex and overwhelming. Most important is to find an agency that that fits your needs and provides quality care that you trust. Ask for references of people you know who have used hospice care in the past. Contact the Better Business Bureau for basic references. But know there are likely two major factors to consider when selecting a hospice- besides insurance coverage, and they are:
Where is it Located?: Is it physically a long distance from your home? What if there were an emergency? It’s important to also ask what services they provide and where they will be delivered. Hospice services can be provided in hospitals, assisted livings, senior apartments, nursing homes, or even in the patient/ family member’s home. Consider all options available before agreeing to a specific hospice program.
Quality of Care: Quality is extremely important. You are entrusting your loved one in the care of others when they are most vulnerable- the end of their life. WhereToFindCare.com is the only place that gives you a quality score to assist you in choosing a hospice: the consumer quality score. Check it out and be sure to do random ‘drop ins’ of the place you decide so you can get a sense of care standards at various times of the day and week.
-How long has this program been serving the community?
-Is the program certified? Are you accredited?
-What services are provided? What type of support is offered to the family?
-What screening and training to staff and volunteer receive?
In today’s competitive healthcare arena, it is not at all uncommon to interview the provider prior to deciding on a program. It’s okay if the tiniest of detail separate two agencies in your final decision. The choice is yours. For additional information please contact the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.
Maurice T. Judkins is a Radiation Therapist for the Department of Veterans Affairs in Durham North Carolina. He is a decorated United States Army Veteran and was trained as a Combat Lifesaver while serving a tour in Iraq. He also Contributes to healthyblackmen.org.