How to Find “Hospice Near Me”

hospice doctor speaking to patientHospice care is a specific form of medical care that looks to provide physical and emotion comfort to patients diagnosed with six months or less to live based on their current condition. It is focused on making the most of the time that remains.

When your loved one is facing a terminal diagnosis and you want to help as best you can, you may be asking yourself, “Where can I find hospice care near me?” You don’t want to automatically choose the closest or the first one you come across. Finding the right hospice takes some time and effort, it involves finding one that you truly connect with, where you feel like the people involved genuinely care for and about your loved one. Read on to learn what questions to ask and what to look for in the ideal hospice provider.

Where to Find Hospice Care Near You

If possible, it’s best to begin your search before hospice becomes absolutely necessary. It will be easier to remain more objective and to take your time researching. You can also apply for any necessary state coverage without rushing. Here are the steps to take for how to find hospice near you:

Confirm Your Coverage

Before going on your search, check insurance cover. Whether your loved one has a private health plan or is on Medicaid, Medicare, or Veteran’s Administration, find out what hospice benefits are included, and if there are any restrictions in care or provider.

Local Referrals

It’s helpful to consult with your hospital discharge planner or doctor for recommendations. Often a hospital may have relationships with particular providers, so still conduct your own research to determine if there is an organization you prefer. Put simply: this should be used as a starting point, not your sole list of candidates. Likewise, you can ask friends and work colleagues for recommendations, but be sure to vet them the same way you would any other (covered in the next section).

State and National Resources

Check online for state or national resources and begin your search there. Departments of health or social services often list licensed/certified agencies. Search engines such as Google are also an obvious paththough be sure to conduct the search based on the patient’s location, as the local results section of Google should provide a list of organizations that will provide care whereverthe patient currently resides, be it their home, nursing home, or even the hospital.

 

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How to Assess Hospice Care

Before deciding on a hospice near you, there are several questions worth asking and details worth investigating. The key considerations are listed below:

Reputability

As noted by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a reputable hospice provider should, “meet specific Federal requirements and be separately certified and approved for Medicare participation. If

Medicare-certified, that means the program achieves minimum care and management requirements. Medicare operates a website of certified hospice providers at https://www.medicare.gov/hospicecompare/.

Experience

An important element of your hospice search is to learn about the experience of an organization. To that end, feel free to ask for references from professionals and families who have had a previous experience with the provider. Professionals include doctors and other healthcare providers like nurses and social workers. Request names and telephone numbers and ask about their experience with the hospice provider.

Additionally, go online and search consumer review site like the Better Business Bureau or your local consumer Bureau. Obviously, sites such as Google My Business will also have reviews, but due to the extremely sensitive nature of hospice care, emotions can be raw at the time a review is written, so it's often better to rely on references.

Finally, ask the provider to show you the “rights and responsibilities” information for patients. And always ask questions about anything you don’t understand.

How to Assess Your Needs for Hospice Care

It obviously isn’t enough for the hospice care provider near you to be reputable and certified: the organization should also tick boxes related to your loved one and your family’s needs.

Consumer Information and Patient Evaluation

Find out the details on services provided, patient eligibility, and staff member roles and responsibilities. Ask for the admission requirements and assessment process you should expect a provider to send a staff member to assess the patient and explain next steps.

Care Plans

The hospice program usually creates a personalized care plan for every patient they admit. Ask about who develops the care plans, and whether the patient and family give input. The care plan should be written out and given to all involved parties. It is of course subject to updates as needs change.

Equipment, Supplies and Extras

If your loved one has any special needs for their care, confirm whether the hospice provides it. This can include anything from necessary equipment such as a hospital bed to medication.

Also consider if there are additional services, for example Crossroads Hospice & Palliative Care provides Gift of a Day programs and Life Journals for patients. Read more about what that means here.

Care Process

Find out how often someone from the hospice organization will be present with the patient. Find out also if there is any emotional or spiritual support for the patient as well as the family. Another important consideration is whether visits increase as the patient’s condition deteriorates for example, when Crossroads recognizes the symptoms that a patient’s death is drawing near, we activate our Evenmore Care program, where a team member remains bedside to further support the patient and family.

Billing and Payments

Finally, read all information related to billing and payments, if applicable, and ensure that you’re comfortable with it. Find out from your health insurer if there will be any co-payments or deductibles so that you can prepare yourself. For example, some medicines or procedures may require co-payments. Ask about resources to help find financial aid when necessary.

Understand Your Options

There isn’t one right hospice for everyone: a hospice provider is only right for the situation if it fits your family’s and your loved one’s own specific requirements. Meet with several hospice providers near you and interview them extensively, and then discuss with family members to settle on the option most suitable for your needs. This is an important decision, but once you find the provider you feel most comfortable with, it will have been worth it.

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