How to Choose a Hospice Provider


Our last post covered the who, what, when and where of hospice care. Today, we’re focusing on the how. How do you decide which hospice setting and providers meet your needs?

Talking to your doctor is always a good first step. If you’re in the hospital, the discharge planner or social worker can make recommendations. Or, you or a family member or friend can make inquiries and request services.

Once you have narrowed down your list of providers, set up a time to talk. You should expect any potential hospice provider to meet with the patient and/or family members to discuss services and answer questions. Usually, there is no charge for this appointment and no obligation to choose the provider.

Questions to Ask About Hospice

The website recommends asking these questions to see if the hospice service is a fit for you and your family:

  • Do you have a board-certified hospice and palliative medicine doctor on staff?

  • Have the nurses and other staff members received training in palliative care?

  • Does the palliative doctor make home visits?

  • Do you have an inpatient unit with nurses hired and trained by your hospice?

  • Do you offer open access services? (This means that certain treatments, such as chemotherapy or radiation can be continued during hospice.)

  • Can you provide injectable pain medicine in the middle of the night if needed?

  • How many patients does each nurse visit? (Ideally, it shouldn't be more than 12 at a time.) Will the same nurse visit at least two times each week?

  • Are services available nights, weekends and holidays?

  • If the family caregiver becomes exhausted, is respite care provided?

  • Is the hospice provider with patients in their final moments?

Additional Resources

The list above is by no means complete, and you may have other questions that are important to you. These links can give you additional ideas:

Rest assured, most hospice providers are covered by health insurance, Medicare and Medicaid, but do verify that the services you need will be covered. And, although it’s good to prepare in advance, hospice care can usually begin within a day or two of referral.