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Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Hospice

The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) has developed the following questions to help you identify factors that might be important to you and your family when selecting a hospice.

Is the hospice Medicare-certified?

BJC Hospice is Medicare-certified, licensed by the state of Missouri and Illinois, and accredited by the Joint Commission.

What screening and type of training do hospice volunteers receive before they are placed with patients and families?

All BJC Hospice volunteers must receive training or orientation on hospice care. In addition to the required training BJC Hospice provides, specialized training related to bereavement, pediatric care, long-term care hospice, Lumina (life review), Passages (support in the final hours), spiritual care and grief support training.

Has the hospice been surveyed by a state or federal oversight agency in the last five years?

Both BJC Hospice in Missouri and Illinois have been surveyed within the last year.

Is the organization a NHPCO member and does it comply with all aspects of NHPCO’s Standards for Hospice Programs?

BJC Hospice has completed the NHPCO self-assessment within the last three years.

Is the hospice accredited by a national organization?

BJC Hospice is accredited by the Joint Commission, an independent, not-for-profit organization, The Joint Commission accredits and certifies more than 20,500 health care organizations and programs in the United States. Joint Commission accreditation and certification is recognized nationwide as a symbol of quality that reflects an organization’s commitment to meeting certain performance standards

Does the hospice conduct a family evaluation survey?

BJC Hospice has participated in three different surveys: The Family Evaluation of Hospice Care, The Family Evaluation of Bereavement Services and the PRC Survey. These surveys monitor the quality and family satisfaction of the services offered by BJC Hospice.

Does the hospice own or operate a care facility to provide home-like care in a hospice residence, hospital or nursing home?

Yes, BJC Hospice operates a hospice house, Evelyn’s House.

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

BJC Hospice employs a medical director certified in hospice and palliative care, nurses certified in hospice and palliative care, masters & licensed clinical social workers, certified music therapists and licensed counselors to meet the complex needs of patients and their families.

If requested, how quickly will a volunteer be available?

BJC Hospice has over 300 volunteers and a volunteer can be matched with a patient within 48 hours.

Will staff come to the 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)?

BJC Hospice is 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. Members of the team are available in a crisis situation during nights and weekends. A specialty triage nurse is available 4:30 p.m.- 8:00 a.m. seven days a week to take calls and arrange visits after hours and on weekends.

If I need to go to a hospital or nursing home which ones does/doesn’t the hospice work with?

BJC Hospice is the only hospice that provides contract services with BJC hospitals.

What “extra” services does the hospice offer?

BJC Home Care Services offers palliative home care to children and adults with life limiting illnesses who are receiving active treatment of their disease. In addition, music therapy, expressive therapy, and anticipatory grief support to children and grandchildren are offered to manage symptoms and grief. Grief camps and retreats are available for children, teens, mothers and couples who are grieving the loss of a loved one. Many other specialty programs are available as well.

How long has the hospice been operating in the community?

BJC Hospice has been operational over 30 years.

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

BJC Hospice assigns patients to staff based upon the individual needs of the patient and their family.

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

BJC Hospice can begin services 24 hours a day, 7 days per week. Acute symptom management can be provided in a BJC hospital with hospice as well as respite care for the caregiver.

What is the organization’s governance structure?

BJC is non-profit and reinvests its income by providing specialty programs, services and grief camps and retreats. Patients who qualify for hospice services are accepted regardless of their ability to pay.

Is the hospice a We Honor Veterans Partner?

BJC Hospice is a proud member of “We Honor Veterans.” All staff receive specialty training in the care of veterans at end of life. Volunteer veterans are also available to support veteran patients.