Hospice Choices Should Be Made Carefully

All Hospice Services Are Not Equal

At its best, hospice care is an incredible blessing for seniors who are approaching death. It allows patients to remain in their own homes during the emotional weeks and days before the end, surrounded by family and familiar surroundings but still receiving skilled medical care from compassionate professionals. Most families who have been served by a great hospice care provider report that it was the best decision they could have made for their loved one. Hospice care, however, is a very complex area, and sadly there are some providers who are more concerned with the financial bottom line than the well-being of their patients. New investigative reports, most recently from the Washington Post, warn about the importance of choosing a responsible, reputable hospice provider.

Release Statistics Tell a Story

A major factor that the current reports focus on is the rate at which hospice patients around the country are discharged from hospice care while still living. Ordinarily, hospice is intended to provide care until death, so discharge should be an anomaly. But the report found that the rates are generally higher than expected—in some states, such as Mississippi and Alabama, much higher. Why are these seniors, who were admitted to hospice because of a very short life expectancy, then released?

One reason, of course, is unexpected recovery from a life-threatening illness. No one objects to a discharge for that reason! But in many cases, hospice centers appear to be discharging patients instead of conducting expensive tests and changes in care. As a consequence, these patients, who are still very ill, end up in the emergency room or re-admitted to hospice care within a short time.

Stability is Necessary

This instability is destructive and stressful to a senior and his family, and goes against the core values of responsible hospice care. Hospice should establish a safe, settled, and predictable environment until death, giving family the freedom to concentrate on reminiscing and showing love to one another. A number of families, after losing a loved one, actually consider legal action against a hospice provider that they claim contributed to the senior’s death.

In today’s age of online reviews, ease of communication, and local business associations, it is easy to check up on a hospice provider and find out how they have served clients in the past. Before committing your loved one’s care to a provider, make sure you are comfortable with their reputation.

Senior Care at Home

Even if your senior loved one is not facing a potentially life-ending illness at the moment, other forms of senior care can provide many valuable benefits for your family. Instead of preparing meals, keeping the laundry going, and doing the grocery shopping, leave those tasks to a capable caregiver and use that valuable time to simply visit with the special senior in your life.

Photo by eflon

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