Episode 6: How do I Choose a Hospice that is the Right Fit for Us?
In this episode, Mitch explores the various types of hospice organizations, the benefits to each and how you can determine which is right for you.
"All licensed hospice programs are required to provide certain services, but the range of support service is offered can differ from hospice to hospice. "
hello and welcome to another episode of Living With Hospice. I'm Mitch Ware I'll be your host today. As you know, I'm a long term hospice volunteer. I am actually a bedside musician. I'm not a doctor. I'm not a nurse or social worker or therapist. But I do have a lot of experience with several different hospice organizations, and that experience comes as a client as well as a volunteer. Also, I am not sponsored by anyone in this podcast is not affiliated with any particular hospice organization. So you could say we're not beholding to anyone and we can speak openly and freely about any issue relative to hospice without bruising anyone's ego or stepping on any corporate toes. So today we're gonna talk about probably the most interesting question I've ever been asked. How do I go about selecting the right hospice? How do we know what's the best hospice for me and my family? And the answer is simply. Shop around. Hospice organizations are identical in their mission to provide comfort that's physically, emotionally and spiritually to all of its clients. But how they go about that well, that's often a little different from hospice. The hospice. See what service is each hospice has to offer. Don't be concerned about money. Just find out what resource is each one has and go from there. You may be thinking, How do I know what to ask? Who do I ask? What should I expect to hear from these folks? Now? That's a great place to start. Because of the Medicare law, all hospices have to provide what's called palliative care. If you aren't sure about what that means, you can refer back to an earlier episode where we discuss in detail what palliative care is. All licensed hospice programs are required to provide certain service is, but the range of support service is offered can differ from hospice to hospice. Like other medical care providers, business models vary some programs or community based. Some are non profit and actually summer for profit hospices. We discuss the differences between for profit and nonprofit in Episode five, So if you want to go back and look at that, feel free. One big consideration for many people is faith, and they're quite a few. Faith based hospice is available, especially in larger communities. Faith based hospices are typically non profit and run with a faith component in their tenets of providing care. We have several faith based hospices in our community here one is nondenominational and one I believe is Roman Catholic. There may be other, smaller, faith based hospices here that I'm not aware of. Each of these, though, incorporate a faith element in the caregiving approach. End of life often brings people back to their faith, like that old World War, saying there are no atheists in foxholes. Well, whether or not this rings true, there's no question that faith based hospice census are growing. This may be something that you want to look into when you start your search for a hospice. So ask yourself what is important to you as you ponder selecting a hospice for you or your loved one. You want to be in good, reliable hands. Ah, hospice that has a good track record. You want to know that the doctors, nurses and aides and volunteers are going to arrive on schedule and that they're 100% committed to you when they're there? You want to know that they are your advocate for better care. You want to know they are advocating for you at every single turn. Did you know that many hospices have a lot of resource is for you and and also for your family, and these range from the obvious, like medical care. And in that sort of thing to such things is someone walking through your house and finding ways to make your life and that of your loved One's easier and more comfortable. The order up accessories. They order equipment. They bring in tools to help your life be easier. And this is all at no charge to you. And they even have those things installed if they need to be again and no charge to you. Most have someone again, a volunteer who is trained and vetted, who will come in and sit down with you or your loved one and and take down, for example, their life story. Seriously, I've heard some fabulous life stories that the family actually had no idea about. One in particular was when a hospice worker picked up on the fact that lady she was attending to was a single parent during the Great Depression. Wow, the stories she told about how rough and yet how wonderful life could be when you really don't have anything except each other. The hospice worker asked the lady if she would like to have Ah, her stories written down for her family to read one day a journal of sorts so that her grandchildren, her great grandchildren, her great great great grandchildren, all of them could have insights into her life in the era in which she grew up in Well, the woman replied, Cash never thought about that. Sure, that sounds like a good idea. And so she began just telling her story, and the hospice volunteer recorded it and transcribed it. Hospices can provide many service is that enrich the lives of patients and caregivers? A few of those air, well, things like housecleaning. Keeping a clean house is often hard to do when you're taking care of someone you love, and especially if you're worried. Well, there's a whole bunch of different types of volunteers, for example, someone that would handle the hassle of a crowded grocery store and do your shopping for your someone to pick up your dry cleaning, run other errands for you. Another is having a trained and vetted volunteers stopover to visit for a few hours every week. Sometimes those visitors can give the caretaker's a break and actually allow the caregiver to leave the house or home to go do some shopping or attend to some appointments. Other service's include Raiders. That's someone to come in and read a patient's favorite passages from their favorite book to them. They're also bedside musicians like me, people that come in and play the music your loved ones just loved to hear. I've had to learn a lot of music from the thirties and forties, but ah, I love every minute of it. There's also a pet therapy, and there's Ah, cosmetology. This would be by a licensed cosmetologist, and there's just a host of other service is available. One very common but very important service is what most hospices call 11th hour. It is a service provided for patients whose loved ones can't be with them at the time of their passing. Hospice provides, especially trained and vetted, volunteered to come in and be with your loved one, so they're not alone. Another is grief counseling in that counseling can extend not only to the family but to friends. Most all hospices offer this for up to a year after the loved one passes away. Other consideration is how often the staff really is available. If you pick up a particular hospice organizations literature, it will probably say something like Service is 24 7 Well, I have entered a guest that it's it's true almost all the time. This is perhaps the time to go online and check out the reviews on Hospice is that you're considering. Check to see if they're living up to the claims for excellence that they espouse. Check with friends to check with people on Facebook and other social media and see what their experiences have been like with the hospice that you're considering. Smaller hospices, especially those in rural communities, simply do not have. The resource is of those in the larger cities, but that doesn't mean that they aren't worth your consideration. Hospice focuses on family, smaller communities air very in tune with that concept of family, you could have a very good experience with a smaller hospice in spite of a lack of resource. Is the number one consideration in my mind for selecting a hospice? Is that particular hospices culture? Check it out. Do they live up to their claims for timely and appropriate care, given with love and compassion for the patient and the family. Then, of course, there's a whole non profit versus for profit question, and we just talked about that in an earlier episode. That's really not a big deal either way. Oh, hey, Did you know that hospices air, typically chartered to cover one county? Also did you know that you don't have to choose the hospice that is in your community? I see a woman every week that it's from a community over 100 miles away, but she resides in assisting living facility here in our community. She's a permanent long term resident, but she is living appear in assisted living facility in our county, and so is in our service, and I'm glad she is. I love her positive attitude, her bright, cheerful disposition and her timely sage advice, especially at holiday time. So, in summary, how do I know what hospice to choose? Well, shop around. Ask questions about service's and resource availability that are important to you, read reviews left on hospice organization's websites and social media. Ask around in your circle of friends about different hospices and the experiences that they've had with, um, check with the Better Business Bureau. You'd be surprised how many businesses that advertise and present themselves a squeaky clean, polished professional are really far from it. Always check out hospice you're considering with the B B B and finally, if possible, take your time. Do a good job in your due diligence. This is, ah, super important decision you're making here. In most times, this is a family decision. Be inclusive. Don't add to your drama by creating hard feelings with other family members by excluding them if you don't have to. As we wrap this episode up, let me leave you with this little story. We had a lovely woman moved to our community from down South someplace. Her name was Edna, and in spite of her advanced years, she was fully independent, ran her own errands, drove her own car, worked her way into serving on the Deaconess board of her new church, as well as being a grandmother for reading time at the local elementary school. She even volunteered at the local food pantry, which is where I got to know her as a violent is I volunteered there also, and she was first to arrive Every time I was there. She had a smile on her face. She always had encouraging words, and everyone just loved her. Edna went to her new primary doctor for some medical care is she had trouble breathing. Her stamina wasn't quite what it usually is in. Her chest would hurt, and she'd often feel nauseous. Well, they ran some tests and determined that she had some heart issues. And so they want to run. Some are tests, and as they did that, they also discovered that she had a terminal disease. She was diagnosed with Stage four pancreatic cancer, very short prognosis with this form of cancer, and it took it on stride, though said she birth and raised four boys. Two girls married and buried three husbands. How much more difficult could this battle be? The next day, a woman arrived. That was a spitting image of Edna. They accept 25 years younger or so. It was Edna's daughter, Jeanette Jeanette, upon hearing the whole story from her mom about the chest pains and the nausea and the pancreatic cancer. Somehow she was able to set up a meeting for her and her mom with an oncologist than a radiologist bushwhacked in the doctor's cafeteria. I might add the feet that I have yet to get my mind around as those places were locked up like Fort Knox, and she even arranged a meeting with an internist. I guess the apple didn't fall far from the tree with Jeanette. Like her mom, she was a take charge type of person. After meeting with all these people, she called a therapist that her mom knew from church and have become pretty close friends with. And I'm sure you wouldn't be surprised to hear that. At this meeting, Edna and Jeanette laid their cards on the table. The final decision was that, given her short prognosis combined with her heart issues, it was just better to go into a pallet of care situation as opposed to more of a curative care situation, which would involve chemo and radiation and all that goes with that. The therapist suggested it was time for hospice care. She gave them some literature for four different hospices and in their community to our faith based to or not. In typical Edna fashion, they set up interviews and invited each of them to come over to Edna's condo and chat over two days. They met with four hospice representatives, one in the morning, one in the afternoon, another the next morning and the last one in the afternoon. Man, I'd love to be in the fly on the wall for those meetings. These two ladies turned on their Southern charm, I'm sure, and and went at the's four hospice reps with a vengeance. They actually had them all, but bidding against each other from what I've been told anyway. When the dust settled Animator Choice, the hospice she chose was a perfect fit for her because of going into hospice care of palliative care is opposed to curative care. She continued to live a full life. She was at the church getting the all purpose room, ready for wedding receptions and birthday parties and such, she continued working at the pantry, making meal bags for the school kids to take home after school, some of which actually, she'd worked with as a volunteer in the reading program is the weeks went on. Hospice came in and installed grab handles in her bathroom. They installed a shower seat for her. They brought in a hospital bed for her and put it right there where she wanted in the family room by the window. That way she could watch the birds at the feeder and occasional dear to walk through or wild turkey. She asked for and received hospice volunteers to come in and sing with her. She told stories of raising her four boys and two girls and embarrassing them with her own dance moves with When they would play their records, Edna would fill out thank you notes, and she made sure that all of her volunteers got one. And when I got Point where she just didn't really feel up to writing anymore, she would dictate thank you notes to staff at the school and send personal notes to kids that she'd helped with reading. And she would pick words that were small enough so these kids could actually read her notes. As she entered into her 11th hour, Oliver Children in a few grandchildren gathered at their grandma's house. When the last of her Children arrived, she greeted him and thank him for coming Very shortly Later, she passed away at peace. Her family went out of their way to thank everyone at Hospice for their genuine care and in concern for their mom. They were so thankful that Edna had made that decision to go into a hospice care when she did so that she could live her last few months doing exactly what she loved to do and living her life the way she wanted and that was carrying for others. Jeanette in Edna set a good example for all of us in end of life care. Do your due diligence Explore all of your hospice options, see who's the best fit for you and your family, then lived the life you have left seeking and finding physical, emotional, spiritual comfort and live your life. Do the things you like to do as best as you can. Thank you for spending your time with me today. As you can tell, I'm very passionate about making sure everyone has a positive journey in their end of life experience. All of us that hospice are that way. We want you to be informed. We want you to be armed. We want you to have timely and accurate information in an effort to help you make the best possible decisions regarding hospice care for you or your loved one. As always. If you have questions about hospice or ah, hospice situation, please drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. We may cover your question on a future episode. Who knows again? Thanks for spending time with us and until next time I'm Mitch Ware for living with hospice. Have a blessed day.