The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization is an excellent resource for all aspects of end-of-life care. Please read the following information pertaining to finding a hospice in your area for you or a loved one.
Choosing a Quality Hospice for You or Your Loved Ones Depending on where you live there could be one or several hospice organizations serving your community. If there are multiple hospices in your area, you can decide which hospice you want to care for you or your loved one and let your physician know which one you prefer. The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization has developed some questions to help you identify factors that may be important to you and your family when selecting a hospice.
Understanding Palliative Care
Palliative care is provided by a specially-trained team of doctors, nurses, social workers, and other specialists who work together with the individual’s other doctors to provide an extra layer of support. It is appropriate at any age and at any stage in a serious illness and can be provided along with curative treatment.
How Does Palliative Care Work?
Palliative care focuses on the whole person during the course of the illness. To do this, it brings together a diverse team of professionals, including:
- Social workers.
- Pastoral counselors.
- Physical therapists.
- Occupational therapists.
- Music therapists.
- Art therapists.
- Specially trained volunteers.
This team works with the patient and family members to provide a continuum of care that can begin with the onset of an illness or whenever comfort, support and quality of life issues become significant concerns.
Palliative Care Facts:
- Some patients receive palliative care and continue to pursue other life-prolonging programs, including chemotherapy, radiation and surgery.
- General physicians are typically key members of the palliative care team and can coordinate services and participate in care.
- Palliative care is offered in a wide range of locations, including doctors’ offices, clinics, long-term care settings and at home. Many medical institutions have begun to develop palliative care programs on site to augment their existing services.
- Medical organizations and professionals recognize palliative care as not only one of the newest disciplines in the health care field, but as a medical specialty. Professionals who specialize in palliative medicine receive special training and certification.
- Several organizations, such as the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, provide referrals to physicians who specialize in palliative care.
- Find providers in your state by visiting the Palliative Care Provider Directory of Hospitals.
Palliative Care vs. Hospice Care:
Hospice care and palliative care are related, but different. Palliative care is the attention to and treatment of symptoms, regardless of the cause. Its a focus of health care that can, and should, be a part of all health care at all times. Hospice care is for people at the end of their lives, who will not recover from their illness. Hospice care is palliative care for the last six months of life. People in hospice care are no longer seeking a cure, or curative treatment. People at the end of life have a choice: to keep trying treatments hoping for an extension of life or a cure, or to focus on quality of life, and let nature take its course.
In the United States, Medicare is a Federally-funded medical program for a certain population. The following questions noted with a (*) apply in the United States:
* Is the Hospice Medicare Certified?
Most hospices are certified by Medicare and are therefore required to follow Medicare rules and regulations. This is important if wish to receive hospice care as part of your Medicare/Medicaid coverage.
* Has the hospice been surveyed by a state or federal oversight agency in the last five years? Ask when the last survey was and if any deficiencies were noted and if so, have they been resolved.
*Is the organization a NHPCO member and does it comply with all aspects of NHPCO’s Standards for Hospice Programs? Ask if the hospice is a current NHPCO member, if it complies with NHPCO’s Standards and has completed the Standards Self Assessment, and if so, how recently they completed it.
*Is the hospice accredited by a national organization? Several organizations accredit hospices, surveying them to ensure they meet quality standards. Hospices are not required to be accredited but accreditation can be a reflection of its commitment to quality. Choosing a Quality Hospice for You or Your Loved Ones Depending on where you live there could be one or several hospice organizations serving your community. If there are multiple hospices in your area, you can decide which hospice you want to care for you or your loved one and let your physician know which one you prefer. The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization has developed some questions to help you identify factors that may be important to you and your family when selecting a hospice.
Does the hospice conduct a family evaluation survey? Many hospices ask family members to complete a brief evaluation of their services after the death of a loved one. Ask for their most recent scores so you can see how previous patients and family members have rated their services.
Does the hospice own or operate a care facility to provide home-like care in a hospice residence, hospital or nursing home? This may be important to you if the care needed is complex and/or family caregivers cannot care for the person at home.
Are clinical staff (physicians, nurses, social workers) certified or credentialed in hospice and palliative care? There are several credentials that hospice professionals can achieve based on their knowledge of hospice/palliative care and their educational experience.
What services do volunteers offer, and if requested, how quickly will a volunteer be available? Volunteers can provide a variety of services including friendly visits, light household chores, running errands, personal care, etc. If you want a hospice volunteer, be sure to ask how quickly one can be assigned and how they match volunteers to meet your needs.
Will staff come to the home if there is a crisis at any time of the day or night and on weekends? Who is available to make the home visit (nurses, doctors, social workers, chaplains)? Hospice staff are available by phone to help you 24 hours a day, seven days a week. However, some hospices offer limited in-home support on nights and weekends, while others are able to send staff out to a patient’s home no matter when a crisis arises. Frequently a nurse is the best person to make a visit if it is a medical crisis, however, sometimes the crisis is best handled by a physician, social worker, chaplain or another member of the team. Ask if all members of the team are available in a crisis situation during nights and weekends.
If I need to go to a hospital or nursing home which ones does/doesn’t the hospice work with? If you have a preferred hospital or know that you may need to go to a nursing home, it’s important to find out which ones the hospice has contracts with so they can continue to provide your hospice services in this different setting.
What “extra” services does the hospice offer? All hospices provide expert medical care, emotional and spiritual care, medicines, medical supplies and equipment, volunteers and grief support after the death of a loved one. In addition to these services some hospices offer specialized programs for children, people with specific diseases, “pre-hospice” care for individuals not yet medically-ready for hospice care and other “extra” services that may benefit your family.
How long has the hospice been operating in the community? Again, length of time in the community may be important to you and your family.
How many patients at any one time are assigned to each hospice staff member who will be caring for the patient? Some hospices assign a certain number of patients to each staff member and may be willing to share that information with you. That might influence your decision to receive care from a hospice.
What screening and type of training do hospice volunteers receive before they are placed with patients and families? All volunteers must receive training or orientation on hospice care. Some hospices provide specialized training related to bereavement, pediatric care, nursing home care, etc. How quickly can the intake/admissions staff come to begin the admissions process? Is someone available at nights or on weekends? Some hospices are able to begin the admissions process and have someone begin hospice services at night or on weekends. If you are referred to hospice late in the day or on the weekend, a hospice’s ability to start services quickly might be very important. What is the organization’s governance structure? Whether or not the organization is a non-profit, for-profit, government, faith-based or part of a larger healthcare organization may be important to you and your family.
*Is the hospice a “We Honor Veterans” Partner? “We Honor Veterans” Partners have demonstrated their commitment to improving the care they provide to Veterans and their family members.
How quickly can the intake/admissions staff come to begin the admissions process? Is someone available at nights or on weekends? Some hospices are able to begin the admissions process and have someone begin hospice services at night or on weekends. If you are referred to hospice late in the day or on the weekend, a hospice’s ability to start services quickly might be very important.
What is the organization’s governance structure? Whether or not the organization is a non-profit, for-profit, government, faith-based or part of a larger healthcare organization may be important to you and your family.
TO FIND A HOSPICE (IN-PATIENT FACILITY OR HOME HOSPICE AGENCY NEAR YOU IN THE UNITED STATES, PLEASE GO TO THE FOLLOWING LINKS:
* In the United States: https://www.medicare.gov/hospicecompare/
*In the United States: https://www.nhpco.org/find-hospice
*In the United States: https://hospicefoundation.org/Hospice-Directory
*In the United States: http://www.nationalhospicelocator.com/
In England: This database lists adult and children’s hospice care providers in the UK. https://www.hospiceuk.org/about-hospice-care/find-a-hospice?gclid=Cj0KCQiAk-7jBRD9ARIsAEy8mh5cRSiagMVp-u89040MGrFEWYePvEXBv7FYfYW9w4A3ylG6V2VkQwEaAgtyEALw_wcB
The following links are useful if you live in other European countries, and countries such as Japan, Australia, and various countries around the globe. If we can assist you further, kindly “Contact Us” and we will write you back ASAP.
GLOBAL DIRECTORY OF PALLIATIVE CARE SERVICES AND ORGANIZATIONS:
For Children’s Palliative Care, in the following countries:
Chile, Israel, Uganda, Tanzania & Hungary
Please visit this link: http://www.icpcn.org/members-directory/
The Worldwide Hospice Palliative Care Alliance (WHPCA) is an international non-governmental organization focusing exclusively on hospice and palliative care development worldwide in 90 countries. For more information, please visit the following link at: http://www.thewhpca.org/