In deciding whether hospice care at home is right for you or your family member, you should think about these questions:
- How important is it to the patient to be at home among their family and friends?
- Are family members or friends available to provide basic care and support to the patient in the home all day, every day?
- Are these family members going to be comfortable doing things like giving medication, physically moving the patient, or helping the patient use the toilet, stay clean, eat, and drink? Are they physically strong enough for these tasks?
- Is the home a place that can adjust to the needs of caring for someone, such as having space for a hospital bed or wheelchair, if necessary?
- Does the patient’s health insurance cover hospice care at home? Everyone with Medicare is potentially eligible for hospice care; this benefit is also available to people cared for by the Veteran’s Health Administration and under some circumstances for people with Medicaid coverage in New York State. People with private insurance often, but not always, have hospice coverage.
- Who provides the best possible management of pain and other symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, difficulty swallowing or nausea?
- Are there hospice providers in your area that get good ratings on the quality of the care they provide to patients at home? Visit the Start Comparing Hospice Quality section to compare the quality of hospice care now.
Making this decision will require open discussions with the patient, if he or she can participate in a discussion, but certainly within the family. Take the time to think this decision through, but try not to wait until the very last minute.