Find a list of potential hospice providers, depending on the criteria you find most important — from location to services required. Then be sure each offers the care and services needed.
CalQualityCare.org allows searching for hospice providers by:
- Zip code
- Provider name
- Program type, such as home- or hospital-based
- Specialized services offered, such as palliative care or a pediatric program
- Payments accepted: Medi-Cal and Medicare
- Type of ownership: profit or nonprofit
This search should allow you to come up with a list of potential providers to contact for more information. If the client needs hospice services immediately, ask whether the provider can accommodate that need.
Then ask whether it can meet your specific needs; some potential sticking points are outlined below.
Personal Care Services
Medicare-certified hospices are required to provide patients with home health aides to assist with personal care needs such as bathing, dressing, and eating. But hospices can differ greatly in the number of hours of personal care services they provide — and it is important to know the maximum number of hours per week it can deliver.
Sometimes, because of changes in a patient’s condition or attitude, it becomes impossible for them to remain at home under the care of a hospice. The client and other caregivers should know what facilities and services the hospice makes available if inpatient care should become necessary, and whether there is a limit on the time such care will be provided.
If the hospice has its own inpatient facility, check to see whether tours are available. If it sends clients to other places for care, such as a hospital or nursing home, find out which facilities it contracts with and use CalQualityCare.org to investigate the quality of care they provide.
Any family members or friends who will be involved in the care need to know what will be required and expected of them — and must be able to do it competently. Hospice organizations should provide family members and other volunteer caregivers with training and support.
Emotional and Spiritual Support
For many people, an essential part of hospice care is getting help with preparing the client and other involved for the approaching death. Find out how the organization handles this aspect of hospice care — for example, whether it has trained counselors or clergy on staff or refers clients out to other agencies.
Medicare-certified hospices are required to provide a client’s family with bereavement services for at least one year following the client’s death. But hospices vary in the services they provide. Find out whether an individual hospice provides support groups, counseling, memorial services, or other types of bereavement services — and whether there is a charge for them.
Understand Costs and Payments
When researching a potential hospice provider, request an explanation of exactly what is included in its charges. Providers should be willing to provide a breakdown of what Medicare will cover, what insurance may pay, and what costs the individual will be responsible for covering, including whether there are likely to be additional out-of-pocket expenses. Finally, ask about its billing procedures, including how often bills are sent and whether any insurer will be billed directly.