Questions to Ask When Choosing a Hospice for your Loved One

Depending on where you live, you likely have multiple organizations providing hospice care in your community. Care Initiatives Hospice encourages all patients and families to consider their options for care. Feel free to call any hospice with your questions or to ask a representative to meet with you at a convenient place and time. Decide which hospice care provider is right for you and your family, and let your physician know which one you prefer.


Do clinical staff only work in hospice care or do they also work as other healthcare providers?
Some organizations use professionals in multiple areas (for example home health care, hospital floors, medical equipment), while other organizations use specific staff exclusively for hospice care.

How are clinical staff trained and credentialed in hospice care?
Several credentials are available for hospice professionals to achieve based on their knowledge and experience (for example, Certified Hospice and Palliative Nurse (CHPN) and Certified Hospice and Palliative Nursing Assistant (CHPNA)).

How does the hospice monitor response time to patient needs and calls, especially during non-routine hours of the day?
Quick response to needs at the patient’s location is important. Some hospices have limited support during nights and weekends. Most providers indicate a quick response is available. Does the provider monitor and measure that response time?

Is the hospice owned by a private company? Does the hospice serve the community as a not-for-profit organization or is it owned by someone seeking profit?
How revenue is used by the hospice may be important to your decision. Look past the hospice’s name and ask exactly whether it operates as a for-profit or a not-for-profit.

Can you continue to see your personal physician?
Some hospices require that a hospice-paid physician become the attending physician for patients. Other hospices bring the patient’s personal physician into care planning and coordination.

If a need arises, which hospitals or nursing homes does the hospice work with?
Medicare requires hospices to have written arrangements with hospitals and nursing homes. Does the hospice have those arrangements in place for the ones you prefer to use?

If a patient is admitted to a facility, how does the hospice communicate with family members?
Communication with the entire family is very important at this time of life. Does the hospice routinely contact family members on a particular schedule? How will family members be told about developments in patient condition?

Does the hospice require specific providers for prescriptions, supplies and equipment or can patients continue to use their own providers?
Some hospices require use of specific vendors or even mail order systems. Also, ask if delivery options are available.

What services other than nurses, social workers and doctors does the hospice offer?
Some hospices provide additional benefits of care such as massage therapy and music therapy. How is use of additional therapies decided by the hospice?

Does the hospice have rules about service use?
Some hospices maintain rules about the use of specific benefits of hospice care. Ask about rules regarding use of medications, infusion therapies, chemotherapies, respite care, or other care benefits that may be limited by the hospice.

Care Initiatives Hospice staff are always here to assist you and forthrightly answer questions. We offer hospice care throughout Iowa’s communities. Please feel free to call for additional information at any time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Care Initiatives Hospice - Albia (877) 577-8222
Care Initiatives Hospice - Cedar Rapids (877) 577-2999
Care Initiatives Hospice - Greenfield (877) 577-8555
Care Initiatives Hospice - Des Moines (877) 577-2888
Care Initiatives Hospice - Sioux City (877) 577-3888
Care Initiatives Hospice - Waterloo (877) 577-3999