Interviewing a Hospice Agency

There may be differences between hospice agencies in the finer details of their admission criteria, selection of patients, services, and staffing. Before enrolling with a specific agency it is best to interview more than one.

General Questions

  • Is the hospice agency Medicare certified and licensed by the state of Pennsylvania?
  • Is the hospice agency accredited by a national organization?
  • Is the hospice agency a for-profit, or a non-profit organization?”
  • Certain hospice agencies have a stronger presence in nursing homes. Do ask where most of the patients they care for are residing.
  • Do they have references from professionals?
  • Where is their office located? Do they have an office in York?
  • How long have they been providing care in the York community?
  • Who does the preliminary evaluation of the patient? Where is it done?
  • What are their admission policies?
  • Do they allow curative treatments to continue if the person wishes to have them?
  • What types of medical diagnosis or illnesses do they accept?
  • Do they require a primary caregiver to be with the patient around the clock as a condition of admission?
  • How do they handle billing and payments?
  • Do they require an advanced directive or a doctor’s order to “allow a natural death”?

Staffing Questions

  • What type of care giving staff do they have? Are they licensed ?
  • Do they employ “local nurses” who can respond quickly in an emergency and on weekends?
  • How large of a geographical area do the nurses cover?
  • How is their staff trained?
  • Are their staff members certified in hospice and palliative care?
  • How many patients does each nurse manage as a “case load” every day?

Care Service Questions

  • How do they handle after-hours phone calls for questions and or emergencies?
  • If short-term “in-patient” care for symptom management is needed what facility is used?
  • Do they provide “continuous care” if it is needed in the home?
  • What pharmacy do they use and does the pharmacy make deliveries?
  • How easy will it be to get emergency medications when needed, or after hours? 
  • Does their pharmacy do compounding and have medications in liquid or suppository forms?
  • Do they provide an emergency kit of medications to keep in the home for sudden symptoms?
  • Do they offer any other services not described?
  • How much responsibility is expected of the family caregiver?
  • What help do they give the family when there are scheduling difficulties?
  • If a person can’t live alone any longer and has no available caregivers, what happens?
  • What does their bereavement program offer?