As with any major health care decision, you want to make sure you’re making the best decision possible for yourself or your loved one. Below are a list of considerations and questions you should ask as you evaluate the programs available in your area and then set about trying to decide on the program that will meet your needs.
(This checklist can be found on the National Hospice Foundation document “Hospice Care: Comfort and Compassion When It’s Needed Most” cited below.)
1. How does the hospice staff, working with the patient and loved ones, honor the patient’s wishes?
2. Are family caregivers given the information and training they need to care for the patient at home?
3. What services does the hospice offer to help the patient and loved ones deal with grief and loss?
4. Is respite care (relief for the caregiver), including inpatient, available?
5. Are loved ones told what to expect in the dying process and what happens after the patient’s death?
6. What bereavement services are available after the patient dies?
7. What is the role of the patient’s physician once hospice care begins?
8. How will the hospice physician oversee the patient’s care and work with the patient’s doctor?
9. How many patients at any one time are assigned to each hospice staff member who will be caring for the patient?
10. What services do volunteers offer?
11. What screening and type of training do hospice volunteers receive before they are placed with patients and families?
12. Does the hospice staff regularly discuss and routinely evaluate pain control and symptom management with patients and families?
13. Does the hospice staff respond immediately to request for additional pain medication?
14. What specialty or expanded programs does hospice offer?
15. How does the hospice meet the spiritual and emotional needs of the patient and family?
16. How quickly does the hospice respond to after-hour emergencies?
17. How are calls and visits handled when death occurs?
18. Are other services, such as chaplain or social worker, available after-hours?
19. How does the hospice provide services for residents in different care settings?