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Hospice Checklist

While each hospice provider may offer similar offerings for their patients, it’s important to find the right hospice for your loved one’s needs. The overall benefits of utilizing hospice care include: improved end-of-life care, increased coordination with the interdisciplinary team, and respite time for the primary caregiver.

Hospice in-patient care is advanced care provided by skilled hospices, specialized hospitals, and acute care facilities. Your in-home hospice provider may offer short-term in-patient care if and when your loved one requires it for a non-related injury or illness.

The general in-patient care lasts for 19 days. As hospice does not seek to prolong life or seek a definitive cure for the patient’s debilitating condition, the options for providing care may be somewhat limited. It is important to note that Medicare does not cover long-term in-patient hospice care.

When an imminent health risk arises, in-patient care can help alleviate the temporary pain and suffering your loved one is facing and provides support for the affected family members. Although in-patient hospice care can seem daunting and complicated, your loved one’s doctor and current hospice staff will be able to assist you through the process. Keep a positive outlook during this transition time to ensure that end-of-life decisions are made as smoothly as possible.

To download a printable version of this checklist, please click here.

Contact the following agencies to locate a hospice near you.

  • National Hospice & Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) 1-800-646-6460
  • Hospice Association of America 1-202-546-4759
  • Medicare 1-800-MEDICARE

Develop a care plan with your loved one’s doctor.

  • How long will your loved one require in-patient or in-home hospice care?
  • Does your loved one require specialized care for cancer, dementia or heart disease?
  • Does your loved one need assistance with daily living skills such as eating, walking, or using the bathroom?
  • Does your loved one require physical, speech, or occupational therapy?
  • Does your loved one have any specific diet restrictions?
  • How will risk be mitigated? How will care be extended?
  • How will end-of-life decisions be made in extraordinary circumstances?

Qualify the hospice provider.

  • How is the hospice program certified, licensed, and reviewed by the state or the federal government?
  • Is the Hospice Medicare certified? You’ll need this information in order to apply for Medicare benefits and to ensure the provider follows proper rules and regulations.
  • Find out if the provider follows the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization’s “Standards of Practice for Hospice Programs.”

Validate the hospice provider’s history.

  • How long has it been operating?
  • Ask to see the hospice’s latest family evaluation survey results.
  • What special training does the staff receive to work with special needs such as dementia?

Quantify the costs.

  • Are all of the costs of hospice care covered by Medicare, government benefits, or the patient’s health insurance?
  • What services will the patient have to pay for out of-pocket? What services are included at no charge?
  • If additional or extended care is required, find out what the financial burden will cost and what is covered in your current insurance or Medicare plan.

Get specifics on what the hospice provides.

  • How quickly can the hospice intake staff come to begin the admissions process? Are they able to come during the evening or weekend if needed?
  • How many patients does the assigned hospice care member care for at a time?
  • What services will a volunteer staff member be able to help with?
  • How are family caregivers given training to care for the patient while at home?
  • Find out how the hospice provides support to the patient and family members.
  • Is respite care included for the primary caregiver? Some hospices include up to five days of respite care.

Find out how emergencies are handled.

  • How long does it take to receive help?
  • How soon will help arrive if it is after-hours?
  • Are physicians and chaplains on-call as well?
  • Which hospitals and specialized facilities is the hospice aligned with? Verify that your insurance or benefits will cover the treatment there.
  • Does the hospice also operate a skilled hospice nursing home if your loved one needs to transition to additional care?
  • Which complex needs can the hospice care for?
  • Lastly, how does the hospice decide when care should be transferred to a specialized facility?