Mesothelioma Treatment-Commonly Asked Questions About Hospice Care

There are a number questions you will need to ask once you and your family have decided to seek for the services of a hospice care program in the management of your well advanced mesothelioma cancer disease. These common questions are:

1-What is the accreditation status of your prospective hospice?
Is the agency accredited (certified and licensed) by a nationally recognized group, such as the Joint Commission? The Joint Commission is an independent, not-for-profit organization that evaluates and accredits health care organizations and programs. It is an important resource in selecting quality health care services.

2-Is the agency certified?

Is this hospice program certified by Medicare? If so it means that the agency has met Medicare-certified minimum requirements for patient care and management.

3-Is the agency licensed?

Does the agency have your state license?

4-Does the agency have good consumer information?

Does the agency have written statements outlining services, eligibility rules, costs and payment procedures, employee job descriptions, and malpractice and liability insurance? Ask them to send you any brochures or other available information about their services.

5-What about references?

How many years of experience does the agency have? The agency should be able to provide you with references from professionals, such as a hospital or community social workers, who have used this agency before. Ask for names and telephone numbers. A good agency will give you these if you ask for them. Talk with these people about their experiences with the hospice. Also, check with the Better Business Bureau, your local Consumer Bureau, or the State Attorney General's office.

6-What are the criteria used for admissions by the agency?

How well does hospice work with each patient and family to apply policies or negotiate differences? If the hospice imposes conditions that do not feel comfortable, it may be a sign that it is not a good fit for you. If you are not sure whether you or your loved one qualifies for hospice or whether you even want it , is the agency willing to meet with you to help you talk through these concerns?

7-What is their plan of care?

Does the agency create a plan of care for each new patient? Is the plan carefully and professionally developed with input from you and your family? Is the plan of care written out and are copies given to everyone involved? Check to see if it lists specific duties, work hours/days, and the name and telephone number of the supervisor in charge. Is the care plan updated as your needs change? Ask if you can look at a sample care plan.

8-Who is their required primary caregiver?

Does the hospice require you to have a primary caregiver as a condition of admission? What responsibilities are expected of the primary caregiver? Will someone need to be with you all the time? What help can the hospice offer to organize and assist the family's efforts? Can the hospice help you fill in around job schedules, travel plans, or other responsibilities? If you live alone, what other options can the hospice suggest?

9-How is their Initial evaluation done?

Who does the initial evaluation for the agency, is it a nurse, social worker, or therapist that comes to you to talk about and evaluate the types of services you may need? Is this done in your home, rather than over the telephone? Does it highlight what you can do for yourself? Does it include input from your family doctor and/or other professionals already involved in your care? Are other members of your family included in this visit?

10-What kind of personnel is the agency using?

Are there references on file for home care staff? Ask how many references the agency requires for each staff member who gives home care (2 or more should be required). Does the agency train, supervise, and monitor its caregivers? Ask how often the agency sends a supervisor to the patient's home to review the care being given to the patient. Ask whether the caregivers are licensed and bonded. Who do you call if you have questions or complaints? What is the procedure for resolving issues?

11-What are the costs?

How does the agency handle payment and billing? Get all financial arrangements, costs, payment procedures, and billing in writing. Read the agreement carefully before signing. Be sure to keep a copy. What resources does the agency provide to help you find financial assistance if it is needed? What kind of payment options are available?
Some other questions you might need to ask will center on the telephone response of the agency, their limits of treatment and your rights and responsibilities as a patient amongst other considerations.
You and your loved ones are facing a sensitive and difficult time, facing likely imminent death is not something you can do on your own. Hospice care is a way to get the help you all may need. Please remember that there are also professional cancer information specialists who are ready to talk with you about your concerns. They are available 24 hours a day, 7 days per week at the National Cancer Information Center. You can speak to one of them by calling 1-800-227-2345.

Bello kamorudeen.


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