How to Choose a Hospice Provider

How to Choose a Hospice Provider

If you find yourself in need of a hospice provider in Utah but are uncertain about where to initiate your search, you’re not alone. The abundance of complex information available may have initially overwhelmed your efforts. In this article, we aim to guide you through selecting a hospice provider by presenting a series of pertinent questions, including considerations related to insurance coverage. Additionally, we offer an array of resources below to assist you further in your decision-making process.

Patients and their families who choose hospice care often receive a recommendation from their physician for a specific hospice provider. Depending on various factors like the timing of the referral, the patient’s current condition, and insurance limitations, they might have the opportunity to explore multiple hospice providers within their area. However, in more remote or rural areas, the options for care could be restricted to just one hospice provider.

Good Shepherd Homecare and Hospice offers a comprehensive range of patient services tailored to individual needs. These services include palliative home health and hospice.

Continue reading to explore the essential criteria to consider when assessing various hospice care providers and the relevant inquiries to pose to those you are considering.

Begin your search for hospice programs promptly upon learning that a condition can no longer be managed effectively. Initiating this process early allows ample time for contemplation and involvement in decision-making. Seek out information about the quality of care, service offerings, staff qualifications, and insurance coverage of potential providers.

Finding the most suitable hospice program for your needs may require dedicated effort. In many regions, multiple hospice options are available. A doctor, hospital discharge planner, nurse navigator, or case manager can offer guidance in locating these services. However, the ultimate decision on which hospice to choose rests with you, your caregiver, and your loved ones.

How to Locate Hospice Care Providers

Local and State Resources

Your nurse navigator, doctor, social worker, case manager, or hospital discharge planner can often assist you in locating hospices in your area. Additionally, hospice care providers are typically listed in the phone book.

Utilize local and state resources that may aid in finding hospices:

National Resources

Entities such as National Association for Home Care and Hospice Care and the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization can assist you in locating hospice services in your vicinity.

What to Look for in a Hospice Program

You must consider numerous factors when selecting the most suitable hospice to fulfill your requirements. Initially, it’s essential to consult with your cancer care team to determine the necessary services. Subsequently, you can explore hospice programs that provide these specific services. Below are some inquiries you might pose when evaluating a home care agency.

What services do they offer?

The majority of hospices provide comparable services. If you believe they may be beneficial, inquire about the availability of additional specialized services, such as those offered by physical therapists, pharmacists, dietitians, or family counselors. If necessary, ask about providing medical equipment or other resources that could enhance your quality of life.

Is a primary caregiver required?

Inquire about the hospice’s policy regarding the necessity of a primary caregiver and whether continuous attendance is mandated. Additionally, seek clarification on the responsibilities expected of the primary caregiver. Consider asking if the hospice provider in Salt Lake City assists in accommodating care needs around work commitments, travel arrangements, or other obligations. Alternatively, if you reside alone, inquire about alternative options.

What is the first evaluation like?

Typically, an evaluation is conducted by a nurse, social worker, or case manager to discuss hospice information and assess your specific service requirements. Inquire about the location of this evaluation, its contents, and who should be present during the visit. Additionally, consider asking whether your family or cancer care team will participate in planning your care.

How are care plans created?

Hospice providers in Salt Lake City, UT, must provide a personalized care plan for every individual entering hospice care. Inquire about the process involved in developing this plan and whether you and your family will have the opportunity to contribute your input. The care plan should outline detailed responsibilities, working hours/days, and the contact information of the designated caregiver. Furthermore, it should be regularly updated to accommodate any changes in your needs. Feel free to request an example of a care plan for reference.

Who will provide the hospice care?

Consider inquiring about references for home care staff and whether the agency provides training, supervision, and ongoing monitoring for its staff, caregivers, and volunteers. Additionally, ask about the frequency of supervisor visits to the patient’s home to assess the quality of care provided. Verify if the caregivers are licensed and bonded for added assurance. It’s also important to know who to contact for questions or complaints and the procedure for resolving any issues that may arise.

Is there 24/7 communication with the hospice provider?

The agency should provide a 24-hour telephone hotline accessible for any concerns or issues that may arise. Inquire about the process for reporting problems and addressing concerns or complaints. The hospice’s responsiveness to your initial inquiry about services can indicate the quality of care you can anticipate.

What type of emergency planning is available?

Inquire about the agency’s contingency plan for emergencies such as inclement weather, power outages, or natural disasters. Request to review a copy of this plan for your reassurance. It’s crucial to ascertain whether the hospice provider in Salt Lake City, UT, can continue delivering services to your home during emergencies.

Is the hospice provider licensed in your state?

Verify whether the hospice provider is licensed by contacting your state health department. Determine whether your state mandates licensing for hospice providers or programs.

Does a nationally recognized group accredit the hospice provider?

Ensure that the agency you’re considering is accredited by nationally recognized organizations such as:

Accreditation by these reputable groups signifies that the agency meets high standards of quality and compliance with industry regulations.

Will healthcare professionals recommend the hospice program?

Explore the duration of service the hospice program has dedicated to your community. Request references from professionals like hospital staff or social workers who have referred individuals to them previously. Additionally, conduct inquiries with the Better Business Bureau, your local Consumer Bureau, or the State Attorney General’s office for further insight.

Hospice Care Questions Regarding Insurance and Payment

If you’re covered by Medicare, Medicaid, or the Veterans Administration, discuss the process for accessing hospice benefits when required with your care team.

For those with private insurance plans, contacting your insurer to ascertain whether hospice coverage is included is advisable. If so, inquire about available options and any preferred hospice providers in Utah. Taking these steps in advance can alleviate potential stress down the line.

Is the hospice care provider approved and certified for Medicare?

Medicare-certified programs adhere to specific standards concerning patient care and administration. Several non-Medicare health plans align with Medicare’s criteria for approval and certification. Confirming the provider’s approval or certification status is essential, as payment for hospice services could be contingent upon this factor.

How do you handle payment?

Learn about the billing procedures so you understand how payments work. Review any agreements thoroughly before signing and retain a copy for your records. Please reach out to your health insurance group to ask about deductibles and copays that may apply. For instance, certain medications and respite care services may necessitate a co-pay. Additionally, ask about any resources the agency offers to assist in accessing financial aid if required.

What are the limits on treatment?

During your initial visit, discuss the treatments you are currently undergoing. If you wish to continue any of these treatments, communicate this with the hospice provider.

It’s important to note that certain medical treatments, such as dialysis, intravenous feedings, blood transfusions, and specific medications, may not be covered by some hospices or insurance plans. While some hospices may permit the continuation of specific medical treatments, this could be subject to your insurance coverage. Therefore, it’s crucial to understand how the hospice manages your current treatments before committing to their services.

Additionally, inquire about the hospice’s approach if you develop new health issues that are potentially curable, like pneumonia or a urinary tract infection (UTI). Understanding how the hospice would address these problems can give you greater comfort and assurance.

Most Medicare Hospice Providers Offer the Same Primary Services

Most hospices, including those participating in Medicare, adhere to the same fundamental services outlined by Medicare regulations. These regulations serve as industry standards, delineating the minimum care requirements for patients enrolled in hospice under Medicare, irrespective of their insurance coverage.

Nevertheless, variations among providers, such as volunteer service availability, community tenure, or religious affiliations, may influence one’s preference for a particular hospice. Given the opportunity, families should prioritize their selection based on individual needs, preferences, and insurance considerations.

For patients enrolled in Medicare, it’s imperative to seek care from a Medicare-certified hospice provider in Utah. Certain private insurers and Medicare Advantage plans may stipulate using a “preferred provider” with whom the insurance company has established negotiated rates.

One valuable resource for assessing hospice providers is Hospice Compare, a website administered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. This government website offers a searchable database containing information on Medicare-certified providers, including quality ratings and other measurable data derived from family feedback and other sources.

Consider Inpatient or Respite Care

If you intend to receive hospice care in the comfort of your home, it’s worth considering the possibility of needing inpatient or respite care at some stage. Before selecting a Salt Lake City hospice provider, it’s advisable to inquire about the availability and details of inpatient and respite care options.

  • What criteria must be met for admission to inpatient care?
  • Is hospitalization or respite care an option?
  • With which hospitals or nursing homes does the hospice have agreements for inpatient care?
  • What is the duration of a hospital stay before it impacts hospice benefits?
  • What arrangements are made if a patient no longer requires inpatient care but cannot return home?
  • Does the hospice offer nursing, social work, and aide services during respite care or an inpatient stay?
  • What type of post-treatment support does the hospice provide to inpatients?

How to Determine if the Hospice Provider Is a Good Fit

Ask for information. Inquire about the availability of written materials detailing their services, eligibility criteria, associated costs and payment methods, staffing arrangements, as well as their malpractice and liability insurance coverage. Request that they forward any brochures or additional materials outlining their services.

Seek professional opinions. Consult with clinicians, professional caregivers in nursing homes, geriatric care managers, or end-of-life doulas to gather insights regarding their experiences with a hospice.

Talk to friends, family, and neighbors for personal accounts. Reach out to individuals who have utilized hospice services and gather their perspectives on their experiences with a provider.

Schedule a Visit

When scheduling the appointment, you confirm that there are no fees associated with the visit and no requirement to commit to that provider. If feasible, prepare a list of questions in advance of the meeting.

Whether there is a single hospice option or multiple providers, engaging with the hospice provider before commencing service is crucial. Their responses to the following questions, coupled with your overall impression of the hospice representative, can aid in comprehending hospice care and facilitating an informed decision.

During the hospice interview, it’s advisable to have a friend or family member present, if possible, to serve as an advocate and assist in note-taking.

  1. What are the responsibilities expected of the family caregiver?
  2. Will the hospice offer training sessions for family caregivers?
  3. How frequently will a member of the hospice team visit, and what is the typical duration of these visits?
  4. When the hospice prescribes medication, is it available for pickup, or does it arrange delivery?
  5. What is the average response time for reaching someone at the hospice after regular business hours and on weekends and holidays?
  6. In cases where the patient’s symptoms are not adequately managed at home, will a registered nurse, nurse practitioner, or physician be dispatched by the hospice? What is the estimated arrival time for the nurse/doctor?
  7. How soon will the hospice develop a care plan, and will it be shared with the family/caregivers?
  8. What steps does the hospice take if a patient’s symptoms cannot be effectively controlled at home?
  9. How does the hospice address the need for inpatient care, and where is this care provided?
  10. Are there any specific services, medications, or equipment the hospice does not offer? (Hospice providers must provide this information, including why certain medications, services, or equipment may not be covered.)
  11. What are the anticipated out-of-pocket expenses for the family?
  12. Can the hospice arrange respite care to provide relief for family caregivers? Where will the patient be accommodated during respite care (e.g., hospice house, local nursing home)?
  13. What types of assistance do hospice volunteers offer, and how can requests for assistance be made?
  14. Does the hospice have any data on quality measures that it can share?
  15. If a Utah hospice care member is not present at the time of death, will the hospice offer guidance and support to the family?
  16. What bereavement support services are provided by the hospice?
  17. If dissatisfied with any aspect of the care provided by the hospice, who should be contacted at the hospice, and what is the preferred method of contact?

Other relevant subjects that may apply to your situation and require a discussion when evaluating a potential provider include:

  • Verify that the Salt Lake City hospice provider is committed to accommodating non-English speakers by offering interpreters or bilingual staff members for effective communication.
  •  Inquire whether the hospice has implemented education and training programs for caregivers responsible for LGBTQ+ individuals and if it has adopted a non-discrimination policy.
  • Ask if the hospice team has undergone specialized training to ensure they can provide optimal care for individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities.
  • Share any special needs of household members where care will be administered with the hospice team and discuss how these needs may impact patient care and household dynamics.

About Good Shepherd Homecare and Hospice

Good Shepherd Homecare and Hospice has been a dependable choice for community care for over forty years. Our committed and compassionate team is dedicated to providing personalized care solutions for every individual and family within our hospice and palliative home health programs. We prioritize addressing the unique needs of each person and their loved ones throughout the entire care journey.

Our comprehensive Salt Lake City hospice care services cover a wide range of emotional, physical, spiritual, psychological, and social needs for clients and their families.

As the community’s most seasoned and only non-profit hospice provider, Good Shepherd Homecare and Hospice is committed to delivering compassionate end-of-life care for individuals and their families.

At Good Shepherd Homecare & Hospice, our dedicated hospice care team includes medical directors, doctors, registered nurses, social workers, social workers, bereavement coordinators, hospice chaplains, therapists, registered dietitians, certified home health aides, and volunteers.

Contact Us

If you’re searching for comprehensive in-home hospice care or hospice providers in Salt Lake City, UT, prioritizing holistic well-being over symptom management, trust Good Shepherd Homecare and Hospice. Contact us today to learn more about our compassionate, caring, and supportive services for your loved ones.