Making an informed decision
Angie Mellott, RN Liaison Heartland Hospice
RN Liaison Heartland Hospice
Too often I have heard someone say, “Well, I chose this hospice because it was the only name I knew” or “because it was local”. Just like you would research a surgeon before letting them preform an operation on you, you should also research the hospice company whom you wish to help enrich your life or the life of your loved one, wherever they are in their health care journey.
You need to be offered choices. If you are approached by your physician, a social worker, a nurse, etc, and have only been given 1 choice, you have the right to ask what other options are available to you. Believe it or not, there are five hospice companies that serve Fayette County.
All five hospice companies bill the same way, or at least they should. You need to ask them what services they provide. Most will offer the same basic services, but some will stand out and fit your needs more than others. What may be a good fit for one, may not be a good fit for another. Here are some questions you may want to ask:
1. If I call on a weekend/holiday/or after business hours, will someone be available? Hospice should ALWAYS be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. NO EXCEPTIONS.
2. What is your response time (typically) to my call or a call from a facility (if your loved one is in a nursing home or assisted living)? 30 minutes should be a goal.
3. If my doctor refers me or my loved one to hospice, when can I start the benefit? A patient admission should be started within a couple of hours from the referral. Admissions also should not be put off just because a referral is given on a weekend, holiday, or after hours.
4. Do you offer continuous care? When you or a loved one is at a point where services are needed due to uncontrolled pain, difficulty breathing, or other issues, some hospice companies will offer continuous care. This is where staff may sit with the patient for up to 24 hours/day, sometimes for multiple days in a row, until symptoms subside. This is regardless of where the patient resides: private residence, skilled nursing facility, or assisted living. This is an important question to ask, because if a hospice does not offer this, you may have to move your loved one where 24 hour nursing care is available or be forced to pay out of pocket for private care. Continuous care is a level of care that is billable under the Medicare guidelines.
If at any time you feel the hospice you have isn’t the right fit for you, you have the right to change. The end of life journey is one we only travel once, and you and your loved one deserve not only the best care, but also the best support. Before choosing a hospice, take your time, and make an informed decision.
Angie Mellott, RN Liaison
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