For many of us hospice care will be necessary at some point, either for ourselves or someone we love. Making the decision to move a loved one into hospice care can be emotionally challenging. It’s a time when compassion, care, and comfort are needed most—not just for the patient but also for the patient’s family and loved ones.

Hospice is an invaluable model of care for those facing the end of life. While it is not a one-size-fits-all solution, the services provided by hospice are essential to facilitating a positive end-of-life experience at home. It is important to know that you have options. While many metro areas have a single “big name” in hospice, they are likely not your only option. Because you and your loved ones should have the best possible care, you should speak with multiple hospice care services.

To ensure that you make the best possible choice in hospice care, it’s crucial to ask the right questions. Here are eight key questions to guide you through this important decision.

1. How often and for how long can I expect a hospice worker to be in my home?

Medicare data reveals that a hospice care nurse or aid spends only about 30 minutes in a patients home each visit. Oftentimes, hospice only visits once or twice per week. So what does this mean? It means that nearly 99% of caregiving falls on family and loved ones.

The sad truth is that there often is a gap in hospice care, and patients and their loved ones are not receiving enough support. This lack of support leaves caregivers overwhelmed with responsibility. However, not all hospices are created equally, and that is why it is important to ask these questions.

2. Do you provide on-call, in-person visits?

Some hospice care providers only offer phone support, yet most times that is just not enough. Patients and their loved ones look to hospice as a source of expert advice and support. Having someone by their side during this time is something many people need.

Additionally, you want to find out how fast the response is for a crisis visit. Emergencies can happen at any time, so ensuring you have a crisis response system established is crucial.

3. Will I need to purchase the necessary supplies I need to care for my loved one, or will they be provided by hospice?

When caring for a loved one in their final days, many people wonder about the necessary supplies they will need. While most caregiving items are common and easy to find, it is essential to find out if your hospice will provide them or if you will need to purchase them yourself.

Given the high costs associated with end-of-life care, being prepared for the financial responsibilities of caring for your loved one at home is important. Whether it’s incontinence briefs, gloves, mouth swabs, or bed linens, ensuring you have everything necessary to make your loved one’s remaining days comfortable is paramount. That is why, when selecting a hospice, you’ll want to be sure to inquire about their supply policy.

4. Does your hospice offer any additional services outside what is required by Medicare?

While some services are not required by Medicare, they may aid in improving the comfort of the patient. Some hospice facilities go beyond the bare minimum to ensure the best possible care. Some of these extras could be alternative therapies, such as energy work and massage, or specialized counseling. Your loved one deserves nothing but the best possible care so finding a hospice that goes above and beyond is great.

5. What support is available for family member caregivers?

Hospice care should extend beyond the patient—it should also support family members. Ask about counseling, respite care, and other services that can help you and your family during this time.

You will also want to find out what the expectations are of your family caregivers and ensure you have an open line of communication to discuss any concerns you have about caring for your loved one.

Conclusion

Choosing the right hospice is a critical step in ensuring your loved one spends their final days with dignity and as comfortably as possible. This can be a highly emotional and overwhelming decision, take the time you need to make a decision you and your family feel good about.

To learn more about the ins and outs of hospice download my free Hospice Guide.

About the Author Heather Honold

I am a Certified Conscious Living & Dying Coach, End-of-Life Doula, Eldercare Doula, Advanced Care Consultant, Grief & Spiritual Coach, and Energy Healing Practitioner. I offer a range of services to support any person working through the human experience. This may look like conscious living coaching, spiritual coaching, end-of-life support, vigil sitting, legacy projects, energy healing, and more. I offer support throughout the Phoenix-metro area, including Phoenix, Glendale, Peoria, Avondale, Litchfield Park, and Sun City.

My intention is to offer a safe space for everyone, regardless of what phase of life you are in.

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