When looking for a hospice provider for a loved one, it’s important to remember that not all providers are created equal. While almost all are Medicare-certified, they can differ in how, where and when they provide services for your loved one and your family.

“I encourage families to interview other hospice providers, because they need to find the best match for their loved one,” said Kristin Thomas, Masonic Village Hospice’s supportive services coordinator. “I often suggest they ask for an informational interview with providers, because that can help them the most.”

Below are 10 aspects of a successful hospice service that Masonic Village Hospice staff suggest families look for and ask questions about when interviewing providers.

  1. Quality care. Families will want to consider a provider’s Hospice Compare rating, provided through the Medicare website. The organization should also foster an environment that makes caregivers feel appreciated. The more appreciated the provider makes its hospice staff feel, the higher quality of care its patients and families receive.
  2. Different levels of care. Not all patients need the same level of care, even after the same diagnosis. A hospice service that can provide personalized medical, emotional and recreational care plans can best help your loved one.
  3. Support for families. Hospice providers should also offer emotional and bereavement support for the patient’s family. This can include end-of-life preparation, spiritual support, counselors who make home visits and grief support groups.
  4. Multiple location support. A hospice provider that has the availability to offer services at home, in a hospital or a long-term care facility can best accommodate patients and their families. If they serve individuals within a certain mile radius, find out what the provider’s limit is. While most hospice patients receive care directly in their home, others may need to be cared for in a long-term care facility. Masonic Village Hospice offers care in patients’ homes, in hospitals and in senior living communities in Lancaster, Dauphin, Lebanon and Eastern York Counties.
  5. Insurance coverage and transparent costs. Most hospice services are covered by private insurance for younger individuals, while Medicare covers 100% of all costs for those over age 65. Regardless, ask each provider if there are any extra services that may not be covered, and make sure they are fully explained.
  6. 24/7, 365 assistance. Because of the nature of hospice care, it’s important the provider has certified nursing staff and counselors on call at all times to handle medical emergencies.
  7. Incorporated care planning. The provider should include patient, family and the nurses/caregivers in discussions regarding the status of care and what needs to change in the patient’s care plan. This ensures the patient is receiving the best care possible.
  8. Defined timetable. The timetable between first seeking services from a provider and when the care can start should be outlined.
  9. Volunteer support. A volunteer support system should be available to provide companionship to your loved one through their hospice journey. Masonic Village Hospice volunteer services range from companionship, veteran-to-veteran visitations, music therapy, pet therapy, aromatherapy, Healing Touch and therapeutic massage.
  10. Not-for-profit organization. It may be important to you and your loved one to receive care from a not-for-profit provider, as they are often unified by a strong mission for quality care, regardless of financial means. Masonic Village Hospice is a not-for-profit provider and has been certified by Medicare since January 2010. “A lot of people find that comforting, especially to those referred to us by a nonprofit nursing facility,” Kristin says.