Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Choosing a Quality Hospice - a new resource from NHPCO

Free Resource Helps Patients & Families Choose a Quality Hospice

When a loved one is diagnosed with a serious or life-limiting illness, the questions facing an individual or a family can be overwhelming. Hospices provide invaluable support and expert care to help people through this challenging time. The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization has released a new, free worksheet that walks individuals through questions to guide the process of finding the best hospice for their unique needs.

With multiple hospices serving some communities, it can seem challenging to select one. NHPCO suggests the best way to begin is by reaching out to the hospice providers in your community to find the one best equipped to meet your family’s specific needs. The new worksheet, Choosing a Quality Hospice, will help.

“Choosing a hospice to care for yourself or a loved one in the final days and months of life is such an important and stressful process,” said J. Donald Schumacher NHPCO president and CEO. “Each hospice offers unique services and partners with specific community providers – so it’s important to call the hospices in your area and ask them questions to find the one with the services and support that are right for you.”

Schumacher continued, “Your doctor or a family friend may suggest one or more local hospices, however, the patient and family make the ultimate decision about which hospice they choose.”

Caring Connections, a program of NHPCO, has developed a worksheet that provides suggested questions to ask a hospice when you contact them.

· Is the hospice Medicare certified?

· When was the last state or federal survey of the program?

· Is the hospice a member of NHPCO and its Quality Partners Initiative?

· What extra services does the hospice provide?

· What services do volunteers offer?

· What options are available if a person needs in-patient care in a facility?

Another significant question is when to actually begin hospice care. Every family can decide when to begin hospice, however, professionals encourage people to learn about care options long before they think they may need them.

“If a family doesn’t feel ready for hospice, they should ask about palliative care that brings the same team approach to quality care earlier in the course of a serious illness. America’s hospices are the largest providers of palliative care and no one is better trained at helping people who need expert pain and symptom management as well as support for family members caring for a loved one. Hospice helps individuals with a life-limiting illness live as fully as possible for as long as possible,” Schumacher added.

Download the free Choosing a Quality Hospice worksheet from Caring Connections (http://www.caringinfo.org/files/public/brochures/Choosing_Hospice.pdf ),

To find out which hospices serve your community, call NHPCO’s HelpLine at 1-800-658-8898 or visit www.caringinfo.org/findahospice.