Washington Post’s “Hospice Guide” and how to evaluate a hospice agency

Hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season!

The Washington Post has published a series of articles about the “business of dying.”  In conjunction with that series, they have developed a useful “Hospice Guide.” The guide lists over 3,000 hospice agencies by county, by state.  Both for-profit and not-for-profit hospice agencies are listed.  One fact the guide reveals is that for-profit hospices spend less money per patient on nursing care, on average.

Here’s a link:

Washington Post Hospice Guide

In a description of how to use this guide, the Washington Post offers expert advice on how to evaluate a hospice agency (using the parameters included in the guide).  This expert advice includes:

  • Age and size: The experts generally favored hospices that are older and that serve more than a small number patients at a time. A hospice over say, 10 years old, has a track record as well as experience. Medium-sized and larger hospices may be better able to provide backup and more intense services, experts said.
  • Accreditation: Hospices that have been accredited have opened themselves up to outside scrutiny. 
  • Live-discharge rate: This statistic shows how many people leave the hospice alive and several industry experts have suggested it is a good reflection of quality.
  • Spending: The guide includes data on how much the hospice spends per patient on nurses, doctors and therapy.
  • Patients receiving home visit in last two days: For patients receiving routine hospice care at home, the hardest days for the patient and family are often the last days prior to death. This measures the proportion of those patients who received a skilled visit from a nurse or therapist in those last two days.