Living Life to the Fullest, to the End: How to Choose the Right Hospice Care

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By Rebecca Barnes, Prince William Living Publisher

When a loved one is facing terminal illness, there are many choices. Hospice care is often a valuable option to consider and can bring competent care and education, as well as comfort the entire family.Hospice care is for patients with a prognosis of six months or less to live. It isn’t focused on dying, but about living out the rest of the ill person’s days comfortably, pain free and with dignity and respect.According to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO), hospice:
■     Is not a place, but a high level of care that focuses on comfort and quality of life.
■     Serves anyone with a life-limiting illness, regardless of age or type of illness.■     Provides expert medical care and spiritual and emotional support to patients and families.■     Serves people living at home and in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

■     Is paid for by Medicare, Medicaid and most insurance plans.

Research shows that people receiving hospice can live longer than similar patients who do not opt for this kind of care.

How to Choose the Right Hospice Care

The Professional Patient Advocate Institute recommends considering the following when selecting a hospice:

Location: The location of staff is important in case of an immediate need and could play a big part in how responsive an agency will be to your loved one. Keep this in mind when deciding whether hospice care should be provided at a nursing home, hospital or the patient’s home.

Quality: has an online database of hospice providers. You can compare agencies by their consumer score, as rated by hospice patients who report on the quality of care.

Levels of care offered: When choosing a hospice, the ill will need a provider that can accommodate their specific needs.

Hospice staff: Medicare requires hospice agencies have physician participation, nursing services, home health aide services, social services and spiritual care. Look for providers that have a full-time medical director, home health aides, chaplains and volunteers.

Bringing comfort and peace at the end of life is a gift of love. I wish you the best in making tough final care decisions for your loved one and family.

Created by DPE, Copyright IRIS 2009

My mother, Barbara Stuck.

Lifelong Prince William resident Rebecca Barnes, when not producing Prince William Living, is the Public Information Officer for the Occoquan-Woodbridge-Lorton Volunteer  Fire Department (OWL VFD). You can reach her at














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