how to choose hospice updated

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

How To Choose A Hospice – updated

Over the next few weeks I will be publishing an updated set of posts on how to choose a hospice. This is a series I posted first in March of 2005. The format will remain the same and much of the content will remain the same. My thoughts on some issues have changed over the past couple of years (I may have even been wrong about a few things.) and the industry has changed quite a bit. I think this series, out of all the rambling I have done, is probably the most important, so I wanted to try to keep the series updated to the current trends in hospice.

There are also many people reading this blog who didn’t read it in 2005, and I hope you will all feel free to give your thoughts and advice in the comments section. Argue with me when you think I’m wrong; Lord knows many of you probably know more and have more experience in hospice than I do! Most people who need to choose a hospice don’t even know what to ask. It is a HUGE decision that is often made quickly and with few facts. For those who do read these posts before making their decision, I want it to be as helpful as it can be. Post number one should be up soon.


Christian Sinclair, MD

This is a great series so I am glad to see that you are updating it. I would like to see your guide include something about the following issues: Why Certification Matters (Or Doesn’t) (i.e. certified hospice and palliative nurses (CHPN)); What other programs matter (i.e. the hospice who invests in robust grief and bereavement services, art therapy, music therapy, dedicated pediatric hospice team, etc, shows a more mission oriented approach)

What role the medical director plays? This one is of particular interest to me as a hospice medical director myself, and board certified full time palliative medicine doctor. I think there is a large advantage to the patient, and family in having a full-time board certified medical director, who is actively involved in many parts of the hospice, including home visits, consulting with other doctors, providing expertise to nurses in the field in delicate situations. Having a medical director who only attends team meeting for 1-2 hours a week but is otherwise not involved in clinical care can be satisfactory, but when a hospice patient or family is in a tough spot and needs some medical expertise, it can fall apart. The full-time medical director who is board certified can help bridge the gap when symptoms get very difficult to control. That is a great resource for a hospice and the communities it serves.

Thanks again for doing this!