Find out how often hospice nurses, social workers, and aides typically visit, how long their visits last, and whether the visits will likely be made by the same people each time.
The most common complaint against hospice providers is that they are overextended. You can help assess this before hiring by checking some of the regulating standards for hospice care and then comparing them with the provider’s standards. For example, Medicare-certified programs are expected to provide registered nurses to visit clients at home or in a skilled nursing facility. And the California Standards for Quality Care guidelines require that a fulltime nurse should have no more than 12 clients at any one time; quality of care is usually sacrificed with larger caseloads.
While adequate training is essential for hospice staff, there is no substitute for experience in providing this demanding type of care. Be sure there is at least one seasoned worker on the hospice team that will be working with the patient.
Accountability can also factor into your assessment. Some hospices have home health aides on staff and some contract out with other agencies to provide this service. Aides hired from another agency might not be sufficiently trained to serve the special needs of hospice clients.
Finally, as a practical check on personnel, ask the hospice provider for references — from doctors, discharge planners, or patients and their families. Then ask those references about their experiences and whether they are satisfied with the care provided.