Every family is unique, and every hospice is different. We are fortunate in the Lowcountry to have 24 hospice care providers from which to choose. All of them are licensed by the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC). At an emotional and often difficult time in your family’s life, however, this large number of choices can seem overwhelming. How do you know what questions to ask, and how do you choose the hospice that will be best for your loved one?
One factor to consider is whether the hospice is a nonprofit or for-profit organization, and whether it is owned locally or by a larger national chain. The frequency and duration of visits from a nursing assistant, social worker, nurse, or chaplain may also be important to you. A common misconception is that hospice provides staff in the home for extended periods of time, including 24 hour care. You may want to ask about the kind of care and intensity of care the hospice provides, especially during the last days and weeks.
If your loved one is currently in a nursing home, knowing which hospices have contracts to provide care in that facility can help narrow your choices. If you want to continue with chemotherapy, dialysis, transfusions, or have IV nutrition and hydration, this should be discussed before you sign up with a hospice. If your loved one is a Veteran, it might be important to ask if the hospice offers specialized care for this group. You may also want to ask whether the hospice participates in the We Honor Veterans program, which requires that their staff receive specialized training in meeting the unique needs of Veterans at the end-of-life. All hospices are required to provide bereavement services, but some also provide grief support groups.
Specific questions to ask when interviewing hospices and a list of local hospices with their contact information can be found on our website www.bridgessc.org.
Submitted by Sandra Slavin, Planning and Resource Consultant, Bridges, PO Box 417, Mount Pleasant, SC 29466 (843-216-7323).