All hospices must provide a nurse, social worker, chaplain, volunteer, nursing assistant, medications and supplies related to the terminal diagnosis. However, patients and their loved ones need to be aware that a hospice agency has a lot of latitude in determining the quality, frequency and scope of services offered, so always remember to inquire about what is available. In addition, it may matter to you if the hospice is a not for profit (like Hospice Savannah) or for profit (paying profits to shareholders instead of re-investing them into additional programs for their patients or for the community).
Here are some questions that you should ask when choosing a hospice program.
1. If my pain or symptoms can no longer be safely managed at home, where will I go? At times there may be a need for receiving care in an in-patient setting. All hospices must provide a general in-patient level of care, but most send their patients to a nursing home or a hospital for pain and symptom management. The Coastal Empire supported the building of Hospice House so that Hospice Savannah patients can have their symptoms aggressively managed there when necessary.
2. Do you have a full time Board certified Physician in Palliative Medicine available to visit me at home or in my nursing home? A Palliative Medicine physician is trained to manage pain and other difficult symptoms and specializes in end-of-life care. The Medical Director of a hospice should be certified in Palliative Medicine and available to work with the patient’s own doctor or become the patient’s doctor if the patient does not have a physician. Patients should be encouraged to keep their own physician, but there is an advantaged to having a fulltime board certified medical director who is actively involved in making home visits, consulting with other doctors, and providing expertise to nurses in the field.
3. What bereavement services can you offer me and my family? Medicare requires all hospices to provide bereavement services but only Hospice Savannah, Inc. offers a free-standing grief and loss center (Full Circle, a Center for Education and Grief Support) where bereavement counselors can provide one-on-one or group counseling to any Coastal Empire child or adult free of charge.
For more information, simply call 912.355.2289 or visit HospiceSavannahHelps.org