Dear Editor: November is National Hospice Month and I would like to take this opportunity to provide the community with some education about hospice care.
There have been many changes in hospice care over the past five years, which has lead to increased services and better care for those living with a terminal illness.
At the same time the change and opportunity for people to have a choice in services has lead to some questions and confusion about hospice care.
It is important that patients and family members make educated decisions about their choice in hospice provider at such a sensitive time in their lives.
In order to help with anyone who might be thinking about hospice services, or for those planning for the future, I would like to share answers to three questions I am often asked.
"Why is there a need for more than one hospice in our area?"
Giving people the choice for hospice care is a very important part of the health care world. Not all hospices offer the same services and it is important that people select the hospice they are most comfortable with.
Choice in hospice services has resulted in increased awareness and education about the hospice benefit, an increase in the number of people utilizing that benefit and an increase in the quality of hospice care provided. Just as you have a choice in where you doctor, which hospital you use, or where you get your prescriptions, you should have a choice of which hospice you are choosing to come into your home to care for you or your loved ones.
"How can there be differences in hospice services?"
Medicare regulates hospice care and has minimum guidelines for which all hospices must follow.
The hospice is then paid by Medicare or private insurance for those services, and each hospice is paid the same for those regulated services.
Payment is made the same to each hospice, it does not matter the size, location or tax status of the hospice. It is then up to each hospice to decide what services they would like to provide above and beyond those minimum guidelines.
There is no additional reimbursement for the extras provided. The "extras" are where you get your differences in hospice care.
"How do I know which hospice is right for me?"
The best way to make a good decision about your hospice care is to become educated. Find out what hospices serve your area and research each.
When you are considering hospice care for yourself or a loved one, interview the hospice employees and find out what makes them different from the others.
Then make your decision based on what services they have that you are interested in and who you feel most comfortable with to provide care.
I hope that this information has been useful to you whether you or a loved one are currently in the process of considering hospice care, you are becoming educated about community resources or just hold hospice dear to you heart as I do.
Celebrate National Hospice Month by becoming informed and finding out the facts about hospice care and then spread your knowledge.