What to look for in a hospice?

Choosing a quality hospice for you or your loved one?

You can decide which hospice you want to care for you or your loved one and let your physician know which one you prefer.  The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization has developed some questions to help you. This will identify factors that may be important to you and your family when selecting a hospice. 

Is the hospice Medicare certified?

Varco Hospice is certified by medicare and goes above and beyond the basic requirements set by Medicare for our patients. Most hospices are certified by Medicare and are therefore required to follow a minimum set of Medicare rules and regulations.  This is important if you to receive hospice care as part of your Medicare/Medicaid coverage. 

Have they been surveyed by a state or federal oversight agency in the last five years?

Varco is regularly surveyed to ensure we not only live up to our expectations but surpass them in every possible situation.  You should ask the hospice you are interested in when their last survey was and if any deficiencies were noted; if so, have they been resolved?

have they been accredited by a national organization?

Varco has been accredited by the ACHC national organization as a reflection of our deeply engrained commitment to quality compassionate care. Different organizations accredit hospices, surveying them to ensure they meet quality standards.  Hospices are not required to be accredited. 

Do they conduct a family evaluation survey?

 A multitude of handwritten thank you notes, and reviews for Varco Hospice are available to view Here. Many hospices ask family members to complete a brief evaluation of their services after the death of a loved one.  Ask for their most recent scores so you can see how previous patients and family members have rated their services.

Are clinical staff(physicians, nurses, social workers) certified or credentialed in hospice and palliative care?

There are several credentials that hospice professionals can achieve based on their knowledge of hospice/palliative care and their educational experience.

What services do volunteers offer, and if requested how quickly will a volunteer be available?

Volunteers can provide a variety of services including friendly visits, light household chores, running errands, personal care, etc.  If you want a volunteer, be sure to ask how quickly one can be assigned and how they match volunteers to meet your needs.

Will staff come to your home if there is a crisis at any time of the day or night and on weekends? Who is available to make the home visit (nurses, doctors, social workers, chaplains)?

Staff are available by phone to help 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  However, some agencies offer limited in-home support on nights and weekends, while others are able to send staff out to a patient’s home no matter when a crisis arises.  Frequently a nurse is the best person to make a visit if it is a medical crisis, however sometimes the crisis is best handled by a physician, social worker, chaplain or another member of the team

How many patients at any one time are assigned to each staff member who will be caring for the patient?

Some agencies assign a certain number of patients to each staff member and may be willing to share that information with you.  That might influence your decision to receive care from a hospice. There are only 24 hours in a day, and a single staff member can only split that time up so much. Ensure your loved one gets every second of care they deserve.

How quickly can the intake/admission staff come to begin the admissions process? Is someone available at nights and weekends?

Some agencies are able to begin the admissions process and have someone begin hospice services at night or on weekends.  If you are referred to hospice late in the day or on the weekend, a hospice’s ability to start services quickly might be very important.