End of Life Choices

How to Interview a Hospice Company

Many communities now have numerous hospices competing for patients.  You get to choose your hospice. It is important you take the time to ask the right questions to find out what each company’s policies and procedures are and if they are in line with your wishes for care. Your insurance may only cover one or two hospices in your area and if so, it is still important to ask questions to be sure they know, and you know, the kind of care you want and can receive. You have to qualify for hospice, but you may also opt out at any time and change from one hospice to another if you are not satisfied. It is as simple as calling the new hospice and they will make the change.

Questions to ask.  

Listen for concern, kindness and thoughtful responses.

  • How will the hospice staff work with me and my loved ones, and honor my wishes?

  • How are family caregivers provided the information and training they need to care for me at home?

  • Is respite care (relief for the caregiver/family) readily available?

  • Are loved ones told what to expect in the dying process and what happens after I die?

  • If I decide to voluntarily stop eating and drinking as I near death, will hospice support me and my family in that process?

  • If my suffering can’t be controlled, will hospice provide palliative sedation to keep me unconscious and comfortable until I die?

  • Because I live in California, an authorized state for medical aid in dying, will this hospice support me and my family if I choose to pursue that option?

  • Do they have physicians on staff who will write prescriptions for Medical Aid in Dying or be a Consulting Physician?

  • Who will my family call after I die?

  • Who will call the mortuary to come and pick up my body?

  • What will happen if my care cannot be managed at home?

  • What bereavement services are available for my family after I die?

  • What is the role of my personal physician once hospice care begins?

  • May I still see my own physician if I want to?

  • How will the hospice physician oversee my care and work with my doctor?

  • What services do volunteers offer?

  • Will the hospice staff regularly discuss and routinely evaluate pain control and symptom management with me and my family?

  • How quickly does the hospice staff respond to requests for additional pain medication? What is the process for that? Is there an emergency kit of medications on hand so I can get immediate relief after I call the hospice staff?

End of Life Choices California provides information and personal support regarding California’s End of Life Option Act and all other legal end-of-life options to the medical community and to the public.