Iris Mini: Questions to Ask Hospice

While most hospices provide the same basic set of services, each hospice may handle specific care issues differently. You may have multiple hospice options when choosing your care. Before you choose a hospice provider for your family, learn as much about potential options as possible.

Below is a list of questions to ask hospice providers to help you select the program that best meets your needs.


Are all of the costs of hospice care covered by Medicare or health insurance?

Is the hospice program state-licensed and Medicare-certified?

How does the hospice staff work to honor the patient’s wishes?

How often will each hospice staff member visit?

How does the hospice provide services for residents in different care settings?

Does the hospice use a staffing service for after-hours care, or does the hospice staff handle after-hours care?

What measure does the hospice use to ensure quality of care?


What does the admission process involve?

If we choose your hospice, when will someone be available to do the admission?

Caregiver Support

Are family caregivers given the information and training they need to care for the patient at home?

Is respite care (relief for the caregiver) available?

Medical Care

What is the role of the patient’s physician once hospice care begins?

How will the hospice physician oversee the patient’s care and work with the patient’s doctor?

Have you cared for a patient with my diagnosis before? What was that experience like for you? Were there symptoms issues that were challenging for you to manage?

Does the hospice staff regularly discuss and routinely evaluate pain control and symptom management with patients and families?

Does the hospice have a massage therapist on staff to provide stress relief and help with pain management?

How quickly does the hospice respond to after-hours emergencies?

Under what circumstances would a patient go to the hospital?

What will happen if care cannot be managed at home? Do you have an inpatient option available?

How does the hospice respond (i.e., escalate services) when the patient makes a change for the worse?

What services are provided when death occurs?

Emotional and Spiritual Support

How does the hospice meet the spiritual and emotional needs of the patient and family?

Does the hospice help with referrals to other services as needed?

Is the chaplain available to conduct funeral services?

Are other services, such as chaplain or social worker, available after hours?

Volunteer Support

What services do volunteers offer?

What screening and type of training do hospice volunteers receive before they visit with patients and families?

Grief Support

What services does the hospice offer to help the patient and loved ones deal with grief and loss?

Are loved ones told what to expect in the dying process and what happens after the patient’s death?

What bereavement services are available after the patient dies?