(This is the final part of a series on how to choose a hospice. To start from the beginning go here.)
This is my final post in the How to choose a hospice series for now. As time goes on, I’ll think of other suggestions, but nine is enough for now.
In this post I’ll tell you a few of the things that don’t matter and some that do. Most of this post is in response to other websites that have lists of things that are important when choosing a hospice. Some have good suggestions, but some are silly, some are downright self serving, and many are available to anyone who can fill out an application and write a check. Here’s my list of what is and is not important:
What doesn’t always matter:
-Membership in NHPCO. Any hospice in the nation can become a member of NHPCO, what is important is active membership in NHPCO. Paying dues to the national organization does not increase the quality of care. Being an active participant in the organization will, no doubt, increase the quality of care. When evaluating a hospice, ask them if they send their staff to NHPCO conference. Bear that expense for the sake of making their employees better is a sign that the organization is dedicated to patient care.
-Membership in state hospice organization. (See Membership in NHPCO. Active membership is a much better indicator than just membership.)
-CHAP or Joint Commission Accreditation (programs that only provide hoops to jump through that often don’t have much to do with ensuring quality patient care)
What does matter:
-Medicare Certification (the baseline requirements for a hospice to be able to do a good job)
-Do they take your insurance? Ask them don’t just check your book, because hospices can usually get a one-time contract for a patient.
-Specialty accreditation for nurses or other staff members. If a hospice encourages/allows its employees to take the time and effort to be accredited in their field, then you can probably assume that the hospice is focused on quality. A hospice that has a large number of Certified Hospice and Palliative Nurses (CHPN) is most likely one that is focused on care.
-The NHPCO Quality Partners Program. In brief, this program is an attempt to quantify the quality of care provided by a hospice. It is an optional program offered by NHPCO and one that takes a signifacant amount of time and energy to be a part of. Any hospice that has signed the Quality Pledge and is actually participating in the program is probably a good choice as your hospice. Once this program is fully operational you won’t need this blog to help you identify a quality hospice because the Quality Partners program will have done it for you; until then, it is probably safe to assume that any hospice willing to voluntarily participate in the program is probably dedicated to quality.
That’s it for now. I hope this series has helped. Feel free to ask questions, because your questions may help me understand the parts of this puzzle that are unclear or see what I have forgotten.