Person writing notes on clipboard speaking to another person
Choosing a Hospice Provider

Choosing a Hospice Provider

Guidelines for Selecting a Hospice Provider

When there are multiple hospices in a community, it can be challenging to make sure you are choosing the right hospice provider. Although the general philosophy of hospice care is similar across hospices, all hospices are not created equal. 

How Do I Choose A Hospice Provider?

When choosing a hospice care provider, you may want to consider certain criteria to ensure the highest level of care for your loved one or the person you are referring to hospice. At United Hospice, we can confidently answer all of the questions you should consider when selecting a hospice care provider. We encourage you to call us at 845.634.4974 to speak with one of our Registered Nurses specializing in hospice and palliative care.

Questions you may want to use as a guideline for selecting a hospice provider should include:

Certifications & Accreditations:

  • Is the hospice Medicare certified and state licensed? 
  • When was the last time the hospice was surveyed by a State or Federal oversight agency? 
  • What were the results of the most recent State or Federal oversight survey?
  • Is the agency accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting body, such as the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations?
  • Is the hospice a member of the National Hospice & Palliative Care Organization or a State Hospice Organization, and does it comply with its Standards for Hospice programs?
  • Are they an accredited charity by Charity Navigator?

History & Reputation:

  • How many years has the hospice served your community?
  • Can the hospice provide references from professionals, such as hospitals or community social workers, who have used this agency? Ask for specific names and telephone numbers.

Care Services Provided:

  • How flexible is the hospice in applying its policies to each patient? 
  • Does the hospice accept patients on respirators? On chemotherapy? Receiving radiation therapy?
  • Does the hospice create a plan of care for each new patient? If yes, is the plan carefully and professionally developed with the patient, family and staff (and if applicable, the facility in which the patient resides)?
  • Does the hospice provide home health aide services? 
    • Are the aides employed by the hospice or are they from a contract agency? (When a hospice employs aides, it demonstrates their personal investment in the provision of this service.) 
    • How is the amount of aide time determined? If the amount of aide time is not adequate to meet a family’s needs, what steps does the hospice take?
  • Can you call the hospice 24/7 to make a referral and speak with a staff member? 
    • If the call is answered by an answering service, do they contact a staff member for you? 
    • Try calling the hospice, during off hours, to test their response time. Do they convey an attitude of caring, patience and competence? Do they sound attentive to your needs and concerns?
  • How quickly after making a referral can the patient be evaluated by the hospice nurse?
  • Will the nurse visit at any time of the day or night? Ask the hospice to describe under what circumstances a nurse will visit during the night or on a weekend. 
  • How far away is the nurse on-call located? Will the nurse visit if a facility makes the request for assistance or reports a change in status?
  • With what facilities does the hospice work with to provide inpatient care?
  • Under what circumstances does the hospice provide continuous care? (This is shifts of nursing and aide service for a minimum of eight hours.) Are the continuous care staff employees of the hospice, through an agency contract or both?
  • What quality of life enhancing services, that are NOT mandated by the government, are provided by the hospice? Example: music therapy, massage therapy, pet therapy, aroma therapy etc.
  • What services do volunteers provide? 
    • Have the volunteers received special training related to patients residing in nursing homes and/or other facilities?
  • Is the hospice medical director board certified in hospice and palliative care? What is the role of the medical director?
  • How many nurses are certified in hospice and palliative care?
  • What bereavement services are available? 
    • Individual counseling? Bereavement groups? Are there special services for children? 
    • What bereavement services are available to the staff at nursing homes, group homes and assisted living facilities?
  • How does the hospice ensure that quality care is provided?
  • Who can you call with questions or complaints? What is the procedure for resolving issues?
  • Does the hospice conduct a family evaluation survey?
  • Does the hospice own or operate a care facility to provide home-like care in the event the person cannot be cared for at home?
  • If hospital or nursing home care becomes necessary, which facilities does the hospice maintain contracts?
  • Is the hospice a for-profit or not-for-profit organization?

We hope that you have found this guideline useful. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to call us at 845.634.4974. We are here to help!