Being comfortable is the top priority when faced with a terminal illness and no longer seeking curative treatments. Comfort is a place where peace exists.  Hospice is the place people turn to when they want peace, comfort, and quality care that is delivered on their terms. As a layperson, knowing what questions to ask when choosing a hospice provider can be challenging, as not all hospice providers are the same. The following blog highlights the top questions you should ask. 

Does the hospice provider accept my insurance? Before beginning hospice, it is critical that patients and their families clearly understand if the hospice services they receive will be covered. About 90 percent of patients rely on Medicare and Medicaid to cover their care. The remaining 10 percent rely on other sources, such as private insurance. Medicare Part A will cover as much as 100 percent of the costs associated with hospice care. However, to qualify under Medicare, a patient must be diagnosed with a terminal illness and have a life expectancy of six months or less AND seek comfort care rather than curative treatment.

For people who do not qualify for Medicare, most patients utilize private insurance or Medicaid. In Oregon, hospice care is covered by the Oregon Health Plan (OHP) and private insurance. At Hospice of Redmond, no one is turned away for hospice services if they cannot pay.

Where are the hospice services provided? Not all hospices are the same, and it is vital to understand the differences in each to identify which is best for you or your loved one. Regarding where hospice services are provided, hospice services may be offered wherever a person lives. A person’s home is the most common and preferred place. However, sometimes this isn’t the best option for the patient, and an inpatient hospice, nursing home, or long-term care facility is more appropriate. Not all hospice providers offer inpatient hospice, so if that is a deciding factor, be sure to ask this question.  At Hospice of Redmond, we can provide all of these options for you and your loved ones.

Will my loved ones be involved in decision-making? Family involvement can be an essential factor when making decisions regarding hospice care. When receiving hospice, the patient and their loved ones play a critical role in ensuring the patient’s wishes are met. However, hospice is a healthcare decision, and healthcare providers should also be included.

Communication is, therefore, a necessity. When considering a hospice provider, ask how the hospice team will answer questions from the family and how the family will be involved in any decision-making needed while a person is receiving hospice care. Ultimately, we encourage loved ones to be involved as much as possible.

Will the hospice provide a bed or other medical equipment needed for care? The focus of hospice is to increase a patient’s comfort. If patients are more comfortable in their own beds, we will honor their wishes.  There are times when the quality of care provided will be greatly improved in a hospital bed, this would be discussed with the patient and their loved ones. When receiving hospice care, it is not uncommon for a person to need durable medical equipment (DME), such as a hospital bed, wheelchair, and walker. In addition to medical supplies, such as bandages and catheters, are commonly needed to properly care for an individual. Medical equipment and supplies are services that are covered under the Medicare Hospice Benefit. Private insurances and Medicaid typically cover these services as well. Coverage is based on a person’s need and how and where the hospice services are provided. 

Does the hospice have help after business hours? Nights? Weekends? Holidays? Hospice of Redmond is available to support patients and their families 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including holidays and weekends. 

Hospice care is considered intermittent care, which means that care is provided through visits made by the Hospice Care Team. While hospice care is not caregiving, it supports the family to ensure appropriate care is provided to the patient.

How will my pain be managed as symptoms change? The purpose of hospice care is to provide a person with comfort. Therefore, pain assessment is a critical aspect of the care provided in hospice. Doctors and nurses are responsible for monitoring a patient’s pain. If pain worsens or symptoms change, the medical team will adjust the prescribed medications used to keep them comfortable. 

How will the hospice team keep my family informed? Communication is a vital part of hospice care. A patient’s loved ones are integral to the hospice care team and should feel seen, heard, and supported. The goal of hospice is to provide this support and connection as needed through the team of physicians and nurses. Communication is also available to your loved ones through chaplains, social workers, and bereavement support. Any communication may come via phone calls or in-person meetings. 

Can I see my regular doctor if I am on hospice? Hospice care is about living on your terms. Therefore, you have the right to choose your attending physician.

At Hospice of Redmond, our Medical Director works alongside your healthcare provider to ensure your needs are met and that you are given the highest quality of care. 

How does hospice support caregivers and family members? There are a variety of services that many hospice providers have available to family members. This includes education on how to help with a person’s care, tools for caring for themselves, information on social services and resources available, and bereavement support for loved ones. 

How many patients are assigned to each hospice nurse? The purpose of hospice is to ensure a person’s comfort. To deliver the highest quality of care, it is crucial that nurses are not overworked and can dedicate the time needed to treat every patient effectively. The National Hospice & Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) recommends no more than 10-12 patients per nurse.

At Hospice of Redmond, we may be small, but we’re mighty. Our team of a physician, nurses, nurse assistants, social workers, chaplains, volunteers, and bereavement specialists work together to make house calls to patients as needed. Delivering the highest quality of care, as well as excellent service, is our top priority.  We heed this advice from NHPCO and keep our patient census at a level that allows us to spend the time our families need comfortably.    

Is the hospice for-profit or nonprofit? For some, a nonprofit hospice provider is the only option. Nonprofit hospice providers do not pick and choose patients and provide the highest quality service no matter the situation. They also are not driven by profit, which means their compassion and services are not financially motivated. Instead, they focus on providing each person with patience, empathy, and the best care.

At Hospice of Redmond, we’re proud to be a small 501(c)3 organization. Our purpose is to make a difference in the lives of those facing terminal illnesses. We’re committed to our community and have been serving it for the past 41 years. We are proud to be Central Oregonians, through and through. 

How long has the hospice provider been in business? Longevity is an important consideration when choosing a hospice provider, as with years in business come years of experience and valuable connections to resources within your community.

Hospice of Redmond has been serving in Central Oregon as a 501(c)3 nonprofit since 1981. Our 41 years of experience serving the community we love has made us a trusted provider for people who live anywhere in Central Oregon – from Madras in the North, Prineville in the East, Sisters in the west, down to Bend in the South.

For more questions about Hospice of Redmond and the services we provide, please reach out to us.  We are happy to help.