There are three questions most people don’t think about asking about when deciding on a Hospice agency to serve their loved one, but they should. Consider these points….

  1. Where do their nurses live? This is vital information to have when you may need a nurse to visit during the night or on the weekends. If any given nurse, who will be taking calls, cannot get to you in an hour and some change, you may wish to consider another agency. The purpose of hospice is to provide peace of mind and knowing someone is nearby will help you have that.

2. With which facilities does the agency have respite contracts? Every hospice patient is eligible for one 6 days and 5 nights respite stay in a facility, such as a nursing home or hospital, during each hospice certification period. This is provided to give the caregivers a break or time away for other responsibilities. You will want to make sure the agency you choose has at least one contract with a facility that is acceptable to you. Even if you don’t think you will ever use the respite benefit, you should feel comfortable with what they have to offer in case of an emergency.

3. Do you have volunteers available in my area? All hospice agencies must have volunteers, but not every agency has volunteers to sit with hospice patients while their loved ones are away or take a break. If this is something you need, then it is important to ask specifically if any volunteers in your area can provide the support of sitting with your loved one.

There are many other facets of the Hospice Benefit, but these three items are most likely not details that someone without hospice experience would think about yet can be major concerns once the journey with hospice begins. If an agency’s answers to these questions do not fit what you feel you or your loved one needs, or may need, then you always have the choice to choose a different hospice – even if your doctor or medical facility referred you to that hospice agency.