If you are choosing a hospice care center, you are likely going through some emotional and trying times. It can seem difficult to get through the day, despite the need to make important decisions. It’s critical that you make the preparations that align best with you and your loved one’s needs. However, that can seem challenging when you are overwhelmed. To help with your choice, we’ve outlined some important questions to keep in mind and use if you feel they are applicable.
First, you should look at what kind of specific services you may need for hospice. Some locations may specialize in treatments that are more relevant to the care needed. Most hospices have in-home, inpatient, respite, or continuous care options.
This is when care is provided to you or your loved one in their home, which can be a house, residential facility, nursing home, or any other location in their long-term living place. This is typically preferable for those who are generally stabilized and need someone to check up on them regularly.
Inpatient care is when the patient is in the hospital and requires hospice care. This is when 24-hour medical treatment and supervision are required and extensive needs. Often patients may need inpatient care when they are nauseous, vomiting, struggling to breathe, or have other intense symptoms that become difficult to manage.
3. Respite Care:
Respite is a helpful type of treatment that allows caregivers to take a break to care for themselves or their families. To help families maintain their personal life, respite services allow for time to be provided with medical professionals so caregivers can get a break.
4. Continuous Care:
This option allows terminally ill patients to get around-the-clock care when needs increase. This is mostly used during a medical crisis and typically involves several visits a day. This prioritizes the patient’s comfort during the crisis and tries to stabilize them.
Questions You Can Ask Related to Services Include:
- How often does the patient need to be seen?
- What kind of treatment does the patient need? How extensive is it?
- Where will the service need to take place?
- Are services going to change in the immediate future?
You want to be sure that whatever hospice provider you choose can deliver quality care, especially if specific services are needed like tube feedings or physical therapy. Since regular check-ups are completed for many facilities, information is made publicly available regarding how the facility is doing. If you find a facility you are interested in, you can see what programs they are accredited with. For instance, the Joint Commission and the Community Health Accreditation Program both determine best practices and standards for healthcare facilities to meet. Medicare also has a search engine that allows you to enter your location and compare facilities or hospitals near you. Both include onsite visits that look at patient experiences and the level of care provided.
Some Questions to Ask Regarding the Quality of Care Include:
- Who is the facility accredited by?
- Does the staff have any specific training requirements?
- How have people rated the care?
- Do they typically treat patients with the same conditions?
The Care Team
Another thing to consider is who the care team will consist of. Typically, the care team will have a variety of medical professionals who will contribute to the overall wellness of the hospice patient. Your care team must be a group of people that align well with the patient’s needs. If you feel that you or the patient does not mesh well with any staff member, discuss this with your care team. To receive the most effective treatments, the patient should feel comfortable.
The hospice care team typically includes professionals like:
- Palliative Care Members
- Social Workers
- Physical Therapists
- Speech Therapists
- Nurse Assistants
Questions to Ask Your Hospice Care Team
- How often will each of these professionals visit or see the patient?
- What is each professional responsible for?
- Who would I address complaints to?
- Who develops the care plan?
- Should needs change, who would I discuss that with?
Whether the environment that the care takes place in is the home or a facility, the patient must be as comfortable and relaxed as possible. This means that they are also comfortable with the care team and the level of treatment.
While some things can certainly be uncomfortable, such as being bathed by another person, they should be minimally invasive and provided with compassion. Interview the care center you are considering and ensure that the values align with the patients. If possible, visit the care center to see what kind of treatment is provided. Meet with members of the care team to get a general overview of their services, ethics, and history. Try to get a general feel for how staff and patients are responding in the center- do they appear happy and content? Are staff talking with patients and treating them well? Is it clean?
Questions to Ask About the Environment
- What does this care center value most?
- Are there activities that can be done with my loved one/the patient?
- Where will they go for meals?
- What social activities are provided (if any)?
- How often are the rooms cleaned?
While choosing a care center can be difficult, meet with your family or loved ones to establish what is most important to you and the patient. Prioritize the needs and discuss what options are ideal and needed long-term. Many hospice programs also have additional services for bereavement and coping, should you feel you need more support. If you or someone you know has questions about a hospice service, reach out to Hospice Care Options.