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Finding the Hospice Program That's Right for You

There are more than 5,500 hospice programs in the United States. All provide medical and comfort care and allow you to remain at home if desired and possible. But not all offer the same level of services. When evaluating whether a particular hospice program is right for you, you should ask to speak to a staff member to get your questions answered.

What Questions Should You Ask?

To help you evaluate hospice programs, you may wish to review the list of questions from an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Although it is written for healthcare professionals, it contains a wealth of useful information that you may want to discuss with your doctor.

Moments of Life, a site about hospice care, also provides a packet of questions to help you assess a hospice program and identify factors that may be important to you and your family when making your hospice selection.

Another resource, CaringInfo.org, can provide additional guidance on choosing hospice care.

Some key questions you should ask to determine if the hospice services match your needs:

  • Do you have a board-certified hospice and palliative medicine doctor on staff? Have the nurses and other staff members received training in palliative care?
  • Does the palliative doctor make home visits?
  • Do you have an inpatient unit with nurses hired and trained by your hospice?
  • Do you offer open access services? (This means that certain treatments, such as chemotherapy or radiation can be continued.)
  • Can you provide injectable pain medicine in the middle of the night if needed?
  • What services, for instance, social work, nutrition, bereavement, or spiritual, do you provide?
  • How many patients does each nurse visit? (Ideally, it shouldn't be more than 12 at a time.) Will the same nurse visit at least two times each week?
  • Are you open nights and weekends?

 

If hospice care sounds right for you or a loved one, explore options for hospice care financial coverage or learn about making a plan to live well.