Choosing a Quality Hospice for You or Your Loved Ones
The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization's (NHPCO) has developed some questions to help you identify factors that may be important to you and your family when selecting a hospice.
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 you wish to receive hospice care as part of your Medicare/Medicaid coverage.
Our Answer: AmeraCare Family Hospice (ACFH) is certified by The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the State of Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals.
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.
Our Answer: In July 2014, ACFH was surveyed by The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the State of Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals and no deficiencies were found.
Is the organization a NHPCO member and does it comply with all aspects of NHPCOs standards for hospice programs?
Ask if the hospice is a current NHPCO member, if it complies with NHPCOs standards and has completed the Standards Self Assessment, and if so how recently they completed it.
Our Answer: ACFH is a current member of Louisiana/Mississippi Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (LMHPCO) and NHPCO. ACFH complies with all NHPCO standards.
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.
Our Answer: ACFH is accredited by The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the State of Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals.
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.
Our Answer: One month following the loss of one of its patient's, ACFH conducts a family evaluation survey of its hospice services. Surveys are evaluated annually as part of ACFHs Quality Assurance/ Performance Improvement (QAPI).
Does the hospice own or operate a care facility to provide homelike care in the 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.
Our Answer: ACFH works with several inpatient hospice facilities, assisted living facilities, and nursing homes. ACFH is happy to work with any facility necessary during the course of caring for its patients. ACFH is a preferred provider for Hospice Foundation of the South.
Are clinical staff (physicians, nurses, and 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.
Our Answer: Several of ACFHs physicians are certified in Hospice and Palliative Care.
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.
Our Answer: Volunteers are assigned according to need. Please contact ACFH to have a volunteer assigned to your case.
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, and chaplains)?
Hospice staff are available by phone to help you 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Some hospices offer limited in-home support on nights and weekends, while others are able to send staff out to patients 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.
Our Answer: Yes. ACFH staff is available by phone and in person 24 hours a day, seven days a week should a crisis arise.
If I need to go to a hospital or nursing home with which ones does/doesn't the hospice work?
If you have a preferred hospital or know that you may need to go to a nursing home, it is important to find out with which ones the hospice has contracts so they can continue to provide your hospice services in this different setting.
Our Answer: ACFH contracts with several inpatient hospice facilities, assisted living facilities, and nursing homes. ACFH is happy to work with any facility necessary during the course of caring for its patients.
Which "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.
Our Answer: AmeraCare Home Health has created the Advanced Illness Management (AIM) program to extend holistic, palliative care to those not quite ready for hospice. ACFH has created the Care Alliances Foundation to assist those in the community facing serious illness.
How long has the hospice been operating in the community?
Again, the length of time in the community may be important to you and your family.
Our Answer: ACFH has been operating in the community for over 10 years.
How many patients at any one time are assigned to each hospice staff member who will be caring for the patient?
Some hospices assigned 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.
Our Answer: Patients are assigned based on language preference and acuity.
What screening and type of training do hospice volunteers receive before they are placed with patients and families?
All volunteers must receive training orientation on hospice care. Some hospices provide specialized training related to bereavement, pediatric care, nursing home care, etc.
Our Answer: All volunteers receive hospice and bereavement orientation.
How quickly can the intake/admissions staff come to begin the admissions process? Is someone available at night 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.
Our Answer: ACFH is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to begin the admissions process. Services can begin immediately after the hospice consent forms are completed and the hospice order has been received from the doctor.
What is the organization's governance structure?
Whether or not the organization is a nonprofit, for-profit, government, faith-based, or part of a larger healthcare organization may be important to you and your family.
Our Answer: ACFH is a for-profit organization with a non-profit foundation.
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.
Our Answer: ACFH is a We Honor Veterans Partner.
What will AmeraCare Family Hospice provide?
- Medical supplies, such as bandages, adult briefs, or catheters
- Medications for pain and symptom management of the terminal diagnosis
- Equipment such as walkers, hospital beds, wheelchairs, oxygen supplies, and much more equipment to maintain a high level of comfort.
- Services from an interdisciplinary team specializing in end-of-life care
- Physician services related to the terminal illness
- Regular home care visits by a nurse
- Visits by a certified nursing assistant to assist with activities of daily living
- Chaplain services for the patient and the family
- Social work and counseling services
- Bereavement counseling
What are the levels of hospice care?
- Routine Care: provides intermittent hospice care wherever the patient is residing. This includes patients primary residence, nursing facility, or an assisted living facility.
- Respite Care: provides assistance that allows the patients primary caregiver to rest.
- Continuous Care: short-term crisis management of pain or symptoms in the patients home.
- General inpatient Care: provides short-term crisis management of pain or symptoms in an inpatient unit during the hospice stay.
Where can hospice services be provided?
Hospice can be provided wherever the person is residing, whether home, nursing home, or assisted living facility.
How much will hospice services cost?
Medicare beneficiaries pay little or nothing for hospice, and most insurance plans include hospice coverage.
How long can hospice care be provided?
Patients and families can receive hospice care for 6 months or longer depending on the course of the illness.
Does choosing hospice mean giving up?
Hospice care focuses on living as fully as possible up until the end of life by managing symptoms such as pain. With hospice the focus of care changes from curing the illness to symptomatic care, providing the utmost comfort.