Consumer Reports: "How to Find a Good Hospice Program: Six Features to Look for"

“CHC is the only area program that meets all criteria for selecting a hospice by Consumer Reports magazine.”

In October, Consumer Reports published an article entitled, “How to Find a Good Hospice Program: Six Features to Look for.”  Within its service area, CHC is the only hospice program to meet all six of the Consumer Reports suggested conditions for choosing a hospice agency. The six criteria are listed below along with a few comments regarding CHC’s superior status in meeting them.

Consumer Reports writes, “Most people are referred to hospice by their doctor. Patients, family members, even friends can also make referrals. If you’re looking for a program, check with the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.  But beware: More than half of U.S. hospice programs are for-profit, according to Medicare figures, and several recent news reports have highlighted problems at some of those programs.”

Here’s what Consumer Reports thinks Americans should look for in a hospice program:

1.)        Not-for-profit status and 20 or more years of experience.

There is no other hospice program in the region as experienced as CHC.  In January, CHC will be beginning its 35th year of caring for patients and families as a national recognized, award-winning, not-for-profit hospice agency.

2.)        Hospice-certified nurses and doctors on staff and available 24 hours per day.

CHC currently has a record number 12 hospice and palliative care certified nurses on staff, as well as two full-time board certified hospice and palliative care physicians. Also on staff is a Doctor of Nursing Practice with an advanced certification in hospice and palliative nursing.  Unlike most hospice programs, CHC not only has nurses and physicians on call and available, but adds all core care service disciplines with social workers and spiritual care counselors on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week for patient and family emergencies.

3.         Palliative-care consultants who can begin care if you’re not yet ready for hospice.

CHC’s comprehensive palliative care programming provides consultation services which may include: pain management, goals of care / advance care planning, counseling and support, assistance with coordination of care, referral assistance with available community resources, and education on discontinuation of curative treatment along with information on end-of-life care decision-making processes.  In 2015, CHC will be opening the region’s first free-standing palliative care outpatient clinic where palliative care consultations will take place by appointment.

4.         An inpatient unit, where patients can go if symptoms can’t be managed at home.

CHC continues to be the only hospice in the region that owns and operates freestanding, dedicated, Medicare-certified hospice inpatient units.  We have two seven-bed, homelike facilities conveniently located in South Bend and Elkhart.

5.         Ability to provide care in nursing homes and assisted living residences.

CHC currently has more than 80 contracts to provide hospice services to the residents of more than 80 nursing homes, assisted living facilities and group homes throughout its eight-county service area.

6.         Medicare approval. That way, Medicare will cover services, including equipment and home health aides as needed, plus counseling and grief support for the patient and the family.

CHC is a Medicare and state licensed hospice program.  During its most recent inspection by the Indiana State Department of Health, it received a no deficiency finding or a “perfect survey” for its recertification for federal Medicare hospice certification status.  Its bereavement counseling programming is one of the most advanced and comprehensive in the nation and is open to anyone in the community who has lost a loved one.  Grief counseling is provided at no charge whether or not there was a prior experience with hospice or CHC.

With approximately 7.3 million subscribers, Consumer Reports has been published monthly by Consumers Union since 1936.  The magazine issues reviews and comparisons of a wide variety of consumer products and services.  As a not for profit, Consumers Union has no shareholders and the Consumer Reports magazine accepts no advertising.