Making the arrangements for hospice care can be a daunting task—by definition, it’s a system for making the last days of you or your loved one’s life more comfortable. Keeping the process as simple and stress-free as possible should be a high priority, so below are tips to help you get started.
1. Determine Eligibility and Coverage.
First off, you’ll need to determine the patient’s eligibility for hospice care, and their eligibility for coverage under their insurance or other health program. Eligibility in the U.S. is limited to patients with terminal illnesses resulting in a diagnoses of 6 months or fewer to live—the diagnoses must be physician-certified, so make sure that’s handled.
For insurance, make sure to take note of limitations, special rules, and any other important factors before you move forward—depending on the coverage, the limitations may be strict or nonexistent, and it’s important to know which moving forward.
2. Decide Upon a Location
Hospice care can take place in a number of environments, including the home, a long term care facility, a hospital, or an independent hospice locations. Think carefully of patient needs, coverage limitations, and comfort when making the decision. Staying at home may be most comfortable, but may prove infeasible for patients dealing with certain illnesses. Think carefully on this step, as it will ultimately have a major impact on the hospice experience.
3. Contact Hospice Providers
Once you know the limitations of your coverage, and where you want to set up, it’s time to start contacting providers and seeing what they have to offer. Make sure to ask the right questions:
- Qualifications, certifications, and awards.
- Services offered.
- Staff assigned to patients.
Don’t be afraid to ask hard questions and get a good idea of the fine details of the provider’s operation—this is a very important decision you’re making. Take plenty of notes, figure out what’s most important for you or your loved one’s well-being, and make an informed decision.
Consider arranging a meeting or visit, as it will help you to compare the offerings, and also give you the insight you need to ask important questions you may not have considered otherwise.
4. Select a Program
Once you have your information and know what you should be valuing, it’s time to make a choice. You’ll want to contact the hospice provider and have them begin the process of beginning the program. You’ll want to make sure all the legal, medical, and financial paperwork is clearly understood, signed, and stored away safely—it can be difficult to care much for the fine details at such a time, but keeping clear records of everything will greatly reduce unexpected sources of stress.
If you do find yourself having trouble selection a program, make sure to ask around—the patient’s doctor, medical social worker, the local health department, and regional and national health organizations can all provide insight which may prove useful in making your final decision.
5. Make Other Arrangements
Make arrangements to ease the process for loved ones—choose one person (if you’re not that person, yourself) to help everyone coordinate visits, keep informed, handle hiccups in the process, and help people with their grief when the time comes to say goodbyes. Coordination will greatly ease the process.