~~Understand hospice care~~
The hospice care today is very different from the hospices of even 10 years ago. Today's hospices strive to provide care and comfort to a patient in the last stages of life. Hospice care can be inpatient, generally in a home-like environment, or even can be arranged for the home of the patient.
~~Recognize the needs of the patient~~
There are different levels of hospice care - some care may occur for 8 hours per day at the patient's house, while inpatient care may go around the clock. Depending on the medical and emotional needs of the patient, select the proper level of care.
~~Understand the funding of hospice care~~
Most insurance companies pick up the bill for hospice care and, in fact, may provide more care for those patients who can remain in a family home. Check with the hospices you've identified to see what payment options they offer.
~~Select and tour various hospices in your area~~
The Hospice Foundation of America (see resource section) can help you find a listing of hospice care facilities in your area. Select at least three and call ahead to set up a tour of the facilities. Check out a patient room and pay attention to any patients you may see - do they appear to be content and happy? Try to talk to a few supporting family members of patients in the facility to get an honest opinion of the facility.