Identifying a High-Quality Hospice Program
At Delaware Hospice, we get an up-close look at the tremendous benefits hospice care offers patients and families—whether that care takes place in a home or in a hospice center. But when it comes to choosing the right hospice provider for you and your family, quality is of utmost importance to ensure safety and a positive experience.
The vast majority of hospice programs across the country provide patients and families with exceptional care. But how can you feel confident that the program you’re considering is high quality?
Hospices that receive Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement must be actively approved by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), which involves regular inspections every three years and necessitates that hospices meet required standards of care, such as staff with appropriate credentials and access to core services 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
But recent scrutiny of the effectiveness of CMS oversight means patients and families shouldn’t rely on CMS acceptance alone to determine quality.
Third party accreditations and certifications can be a useful tool for identifying a quality hospice program.
There are a number of accrediting bodies that offer voluntary accreditations and certifications to hospices and hospice programs. Endorsement by an accrediting organization offers patients and families extra assurance that the hospice program meets the highest quality standards. In addition, the rigorous accreditation process can help hospices develop strategies for further improvement.
For example, in addition to being licensed by the states of Delaware and Pennsylvania and approved by CMS, Delaware Hospice has earned The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval® for Home Care Accreditation.
Every three years The Joint Commission spends roughly a week with Delaware Hospice interviewing patients, families, staff members, and volunteers; scouring records; and conducting site checks. To maintain our accreditation, we have to meet 100% of The Joint Commission’s quality assurance standards, which are more stringent than those of CMS and cover matters that CMS doesn’t monitor.
It’s important to note that quality shouldn’t just be an every-three-year focus for a hospice program. At Delaware Hospice, some of the additional ways we’re pursuing the highest quality standards day in and day out include:
• Active membership in industry associations and committees that encourage ongoing improvement and education in the field, including The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, Delaware Quality of Life Coalition, Alliance Kids (for our Katybug pediatric program), and the Center to Advance Palliative Care (for our Delaware Palliative program).
• Regular family member surveys. (In fact, we were recognized with Elite Status in the 2015 Hospice Honors from Deyta® for scoring better than the national average on all 18 of the evaluation questions provided to family members!)
• Support for employees pursuing specialty certifications in their respective fields, including recognition as Certified Hospice and Palliative Nurses.
• A standing board-level committee focused on compliance and quality that includes staff and community representatives.
Every hospice is different and has their own ways of maintaining compliance and pursuing continuous improvement. The important thing is that you get to know the hospice you’re considering to ensure a safe and enriching hospice experience.
This article is not intended to constitute medical or legal advice.