You can’t change a diagnosis. But, you can help your loved one live more comfortably.
That’s the goal of hospice, and in Southern New Jersey, there are many hospice organizations to choose from. But which will give you the care you or a loved one truly needs at this time? By doing some research, you’ll quickly learn that some hospice organizations may meet your needs better than others.
Finding hospice care in South NJ
It’s never too early to start your search. You’ll feel less pressure and have more time to find and compare organizations.
Ask your doctor or other healthcare providers if they can recommend a hospice care organization in South NJ. Your hospital discharge planner or case manager can also identify hospice providers.
You can also find South NJ hospice care providers through local and national agencies, which maintain lists of hospice organizations. These agencies include:
County Office on Aging
Department of Health
National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization
American Cancer Society
Local United Way chapter
If your loved one has private health insurance, ask the insurer if it has any preferred hospice providers.
To learn more about finding hospice care in South NJ,
please call Samaritan 24/7 at (800) 229-8183.
First, consider these key criteria recommended by Consumer Reports and other experts:What to look for in a South NJ hospice care provider Once you’ve found hospice care providers in South NJ, use the following criteria and questions to help make the best choice.
Not-for-profit status. More than half of U.S. hospice programs are for-profit, according to Medicare, and reports have revealed problems at some of those programs. Consider the hospice’s primary mission, which will be affected by its for-profit or not-for-profit status.
Twenty or more years of experience.
Hospice-certified nurses and doctors on staff and available 24/7, 365 days a year.
Palliative-care (comfort care) consultants who can alleviate symptoms, even if the person isn’t ready for hospice yet.
Ability to provide care in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
An inpatient unit, where patients can stay if symptoms can’t be managed at home. Such facilities should provide home-like care. (Samaritan has two inpatient hospice centers in South NJ. Please click here to learn more.)
Medicare approval. This enables Medicare (or Medicaid) to pay for services, including equipment and home health aides as needed, plus counseling and grief support for the patient and family. Most hospices are certified by Medicare and are therefore required to follow Medicare rules and regulations.
In addition, ask the hospice to provide brochures or other written information about its:
Some hospices offer specialized services to improve patients’ comfort, such as rehabilitation therapists, dietitians, family counselors, and complementary therapies such as massage, music therapy, and pet therapy. Some provide medical equipment or other items that can enhance quality of life.
Eligibility and admission requirements. Some hospice organizations provide services only within certain geographic boundaries. Some require that the patient have or live with a primary caregiver (such as a close relative or friend). If that’s the case, ask about any requirements of the primary caregiver, and how the hospice would handle situations when the primary caregiver is not available. Additionally, some hospices will not allow patients to continue receiving certain treatments, such as intravenous feedings, dialysis, blood transfusions, and some medications. Ask how the hospice would handle any current treatments the patient wishes to continue.
Costs and payment procedures. Ask the patient’s health insurance provider whether the patient should expect any deductibles or co-pays. For instance, co-pays may be required for certain medications or respite care. Ask the hospice if it can help you find financial assistance, should that be needed. Read the agreement carefully before signing it, and keep a copy.
Patient care plans. The hospice should develop a personalized, written care plan for each patient. Ask to see a sample plan.
Employee job descriptions. These will help you understand what you can expect from the hospice and its various staff members.
Liability and malpractice insurance. All hospice providers should have such policies in place.
If you have questions or don’t understand any of the above information, ask the hospice to explain it.
Ask a lot of questions
In addition to gathering the above information, Samaritan advises families to ask plenty of questions when finding South NJ hospice care. For example, is the hospice licensed by the state? How many patients are assigned to each staff member? How quickly can someone be admitted to the hospice program?
Finally, here’s one more set of considerations to help find the South NJ hospice care that best meets your needs:
Can the hospice provide good references from other professionals? For example, ask for contact information for local social workers who have had other patients use the hospice, and ask them about their experiences. Check the hospice’s record with the Better Business Bureau, local consumer protection office, or state attorney general’s office.
How does the hospice conduct its initial evaluation? In most cases, a nurse visits the patient and family to determine the initial plan of care and to set up medication and equipment deliveries. This visit takes place in the home, hospital, or nursing home/assisted living. Ask who should be present and what else this visit involves.
How does the hospice create care plans? The hospice’s professional care team creates the plan with input from the patient and family. The plan should include specific duties, service days and hours, and the name and phone number of the person in charge of the patient’s care. The hospice team should update the plan as the patient’s needs change.
Who will provide care? Are the caregivers licensed? How does the hospice train and supervise its staff and volunteers? How often does a supervisor review the care being provided? How can the patient or family address any questions or complaints? How does the hospice resolve problems?
How does the hospice handle communication with the patient and family? Ask about the procedure for reporting and resolving issues or concerns. The hospice should also have a 24/7 phone line you can call with questions or problems. Take note of how the hospice handles your initial inquiry — which can be a good indicator of how the organization will address your needs.
Does the hospice have an emergency plan for dealing with bad weather, a power failure, or a natural disaster? Will the hospice still come to the patient’s home to provide services? Ask to see the emergency plan.
How will the hospice handle any new health problems that are curable, such as a urinary tract infection or pneumonia? You may want to be sure the hospice can treat such issues.
How do the hospice’s services differ between patients living at home versus those who are inpatients? Does the hospice provide a comparable amount of care, regardless of the setting?
Choosing the right hospice provider for you or a loved one is a vitally important decision. It impacts the physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being of the patient at the end of life. Hopefully, the information provided here makes this stressful process at least a little bit easier.
Speak with someone about hospice 24 hours a day, at no cost to you: (800) 229-8183.