Who chooses my hospice provider?

You do. It can be in consultation with your physician or you may consult with the hospice of your choice. According to Medicare today, “a patient is free to choose any qualified agency offering him/her services.” Your physician or the hospice professional staff can determine if your illness is hospice appropriate according to Medicare/Medicaid guidelines.

Sadly when you or family members speak to the doctor or a hospital social services department about hospice, asking the right questions can come with a lump in your throat. Once we come face to face with that difficult decision, it will be a very trying time; a loved one has been diagnosed with a terminal illness.

When met with the prospect of hospice care, first ask for what hospices are available and then if you need to get information from the hospice of your choice, there are very basic questions that should be asked.

• What specific services are offered?

• How often will a nurse or hospice staff visit?

• Are they accredited?

• Is care available seven days a week, 24 hours a day?

• Does the hospice provide pharmacy and home health equipment?

• What social services are available?

• What spiritual support and/or anticipated grief counseling is provided?

• Do they have certified trained volunteers?

• Can the hospice provide services in a nursing home, hospital or a home for hospice?

Patients have the basic right:

• To choose any Medicare-certified agency.

• To be told when Medicare will not cover a service.

• To receive services the doctor ordered.

• To be involved in care planning.

• To choose to transfer to another hospice provider if unhappy with current agency.

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