Finding a Quality Hospice Program

The American Association of Retired Persons® (AARP) recently posted information about choosing a hospice on their website. In the article, professionals recommend initiating conversations earlier to avoid patients and families needing to make a choice “under duress.” They also stressed the importance of prefacing any discussion regarding end-of-life care with first exploring what is important to the patient, what he or she understands about his or her illness, and how best to personalize his or her care.

The article also provided a list of questions to ask a hospice when considering enrolling in their care. The following is how Carroll Hospice would respond to those questions:

Q: Does the hospice’s medical director make home visits to address complex symptom management?

A: Yes. Our full-time medical director, John Middleton, M.D., cares for patients at Dove House and in the community.

Q: How and how quickly does the hospice respond to patient care crises after hours?

A: Carroll Hospice has staff available 24 hours/day every day of the year. Our NEWS Crew (Nights, Evenings and Weekend staff) consists of team members who specifically work after hours. Families consistently rate our after-hours responsiveness as being above the national benchmark.

Executive Director Regina Bodnar

Q: Does the hospice provide all levels of care mandated by the Medicare Hospice benefit?

A: Yes. Carroll Hospice is a fully compliant Medicare-certified hospice. General inpatient care is provided in our eight-bed inpatient facility, Dove House. Respite care is typically provided in a local nursing facility with which we partner. Continuous care is always available to symptomatic patients who choose not to leave the home setting. We bring the higher level of care to them.

Q: Is the hospice accredited by one of the three national organizations that survey hospices on their quality, which means it went above and beyond what is required by Medicare?

A: Yes. Carroll Hospice is accredited by Community Health Accreditation Partner (CHAP).

Q: Are the hospice’s professional staff individually certified as experts in their field by their recognized professional bodies?

A: Certification is required for all nursing and hospice aide staff members who have been with Carroll Hospice for four years or more. We are 100 percent compliant. Social workers, chaplains and our bereavement counselors have also individually pursued certification.

Q: How robust is the hospice’s volunteer program, and what does it include?

A: Volunteers are at the heart of Carroll Hospice—providing all those things to patients and families that do not require a professional touch. We have a vibrant Veteran Volunteer Program, doula program and pet visitation program among others.

Regina Bodnar is the executive director of Carroll Hospice.

Hospice Myth: The Role of the Chaplain

Each month we set the facts straight regarding myths surrounding hospice care.

This month’s myth: The role of the hospice chaplain is strictly a religious one

While hospice chaplains are trained to work with patients, families and caregivers of all faith backgrounds and beliefs, they are also trained to work with individuals and families who do not identify with any particular belief system.

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Starting the Conversation: Discussing Hospice with a Loved One

Discussing end-of-life care is a conversation no one ever likes to have, but it is so important when determining a patient’s care preferences and treatment options. Having this conversation during the early stages of a serious illness can be beneficial to everyone involved. Patients will feel confident that care decisions made on their behalf will be consistent with their personal wishes, and caregivers will not have to guess if they are making a decision that their loved one would have wanted.

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