There’s a difficult decision you will have to face at some point. That is if you should send a sick loved one to a hospice care facility so that medical professionals can look after them 24/7. To make this decision a little less emotionally taxing, you have to approach it objectively. There are signs you can look out for.
Has your loved one lost significant weight because eating has become strenuous? Have there been frequent visits to the ER in the past months because of rapidly declining health? Have infections become reoccurring despite consistent medical attention? Is your loved one suffering from fast deterioration of mental faculties that accomplishing basic tasks has become nearly impossible for them?
If you answered yes to those questions, then hospice care is indeed a valid option. Here your focus should shift from aggressive treatment of your loved one’s illness to providing them the best quality of life possible for their final days.
However, you cannot just send your loved one to the first nearby hospice care you see online. Here’s how to pick the best hospice care facility out there.
1. Do an ocular
Chances are, you will begin your search online. There’s nothing wrong with that. But make sure you take your research beyond the information you get from the web. An ocular is vital.
If you prioritize nearby facilities, it won’t be that much of a challenge to visit all of them. Hopefully, there’s one that will be impressive enough for you. So take note of your first impressions as soon as you arrive at a facility. Be attentive to factors such as cleanliness, safety, and how the patients and visiting families act. These will give you enough perspective.
2. Ask about the quality of service
In the United States, 250,000 people die of medical mistakes every year. Just because you enrolled your loved one in a hospice care facility does not give anyone the right to be negligent towards their well-being. With that said, ask the hospice representative what systems they follow for tracking the quality of service they provide to patients. If they can provide you with data, the better.
Also, ask about what medical training and certifications the staff of the facility have on their resume. That is for your peace of mind.
3. Ask about Medicare coverage
Most hospice care facilities are Medicare certified. Still, it is better to be sure than sorry. Ask before signing any contract.
Medicare coverage includes health aides, equipment use, medications, and other pertinent medical expenses. Patients and family members are also eligible for counseling and grief support. Remember that should you mistakenly sign a contract with a facility not covered by Medicare, paying for the costs of enrollment will be a huge financial burden on your part.
4. Know what services and treatments they provide
After confirming that Medicare covers a facility, the next question is regarding the specific services and treatments provided. Inquire about available equipment, medications, and medical supplies in the facility. Your loved one might need specific equipment that’s not available. Or medications that are not covered. Those scenarios will be detrimental to the patient’s quality of life. And if you already signed a contract, you have no choice but to pay for those out of your own pocket.
Ask the hospice representative to provide you with a detailed list of the services and treatments they provide. There is no harm in covering all the bases.
5. Get advice from previous clients
Do not sign a contract without consulting with the facility’s previous clients. During your ocular, you can already chat with visiting family members to get the necessary information. You can also crowdsource advice from social media. Do not rely upon testimonials presented on the facility’s website. They might be partial to the facility.
And if your loved one experiences a moment of lucidity, have their opinion on the matter as well. After all, they are to stay in the facility. Their voice, no matter how increasingly soft and fragile, matters.
In 2018, patients’ average Lifelong Length of Stay (LLOS) in hospice care facilities was 89.6 days. That’s barely three months. Once you send your loved one to a hospice, make sure to visit them as often as you can. Regardless of how busy your schedule is, your priority should be spending quality time with your loved one whom you know is about to cross the rainbow bridge. Otherwise, you might go through the rest of your life with a burden of regrets.