When you’re seeking hospice care or palliative care in Chicago, you have plenty of options. Choosing the right organization for end-of-life care or for assistance during treatment for a life-threatening illness may involve researching multiple providers. It’s important to start the process early, since this gives you time to thoroughly assess different hospice providers and find the right one for your family. Entering hospice care early also helps make the transition go smoothly and gives you and your loved ones extra support and relief from full-time care-giving duties. To simplify the process, these are five of the main things you should consider when seeking palliative or hospice care:

1. Reputation in the Community

A hospice care provider should have a reputation as a caring, compassionate organization. Check Google and other sites for online reviews from other families that have used hospice services in your area to see what people are saying about particular care providers. Star reviews can be useful, but you should also dive deeper into written reviews and see what aspects of care families really appreciated or wished had been different.

Many families searching for hospice and palliative care in Chicago look for an organization with a care mission that matches their own values. If your loved one has a strong spiritual life, finding hospice care that respects and encourages religious connections may be a priority. Patients with a desire to engage in familiar hobbies might want care that focuses on maintaining a good quality of life as long as possible. Online reviews can give you insight into whether a care provider lives up to their mission statement.

2. Available Care Options

Palliative care and hospice care aren’t static experiences but instead include dynamic challenges throughout a patient’s experience. Your loved one might need spiritual services or want to enjoy the peace that music brings through music therapy. Patients who were previously active may enjoy sports therapy that lets them engage in the experiences they love as long as they can.

Family members might benefit from grief or bereavement counseling as they adapt to the terminal illness diagnosis and the events surrounding a loved one’s death. Consider asking how long bereavement support lasts beyond the loss of a loved one. Support that continues for six to 12 months helps family members work through the grief process and move into an emotional space that lets them celebrate their memories of the person who has passed on.

Some other things you might want to ask a palliative care provider include whether patients have access to nutrition services, physical therapy and speech therapy. Assistance with household tasks and providing physical company to alleviate loneliness are other things a hospice care provider might include among their services. A patient’s needs might also change over time, and a care program that offers a variety of options may be able to provide more personalized care during different stages of the end-of-life journey. Care providers that offer services 24 hours a day make it easier to schedule care when and where you need it.

3. Location

Remaining close to family and friends is often a major concern for patients who enter hospice. Maintaining contact with loved ones helps terminally ill patients enjoy their remaining time and lets them create memories that family members can cherish for years to come. For this reason, many patients in palliative or hospice care in Chicago prefer to continue living at home and have caregivers come to them.

Patients who opt for care at home need hospice care that offers coverage throughout their area. This might mean contracting with a care provider that can send team members not only to the patient’s home but also to local hospitals or medical facilities where the patient may spend time.

4. Experienced and Caring Staff

The staff at a hospice or palliative care facility can make a big difference in your experience as a patient or as the family member of a patient. These employees and volunteers make sure your loved one takes necessary medication on time, provide emotional and spiritual support, lend an ear when patients want to talk and help families navigate complex insurance paperwork.

Talking to members of the clinical and professional staff, administrative workers and volunteers at the facility you are considering may give you a feel for how they view their work. Seek out a care team that is committed to a focus on comfort and peace during the end of life, and look for hospice care with an interdisciplinary team approach.

The experience level of staff members may be just as important as their attitudes toward end-of-life and palliative care. Professional caregivers and medical staff with years of experience have developed an array of skills and techniques to help patients with a wide range of needs and preferences. An experienced care team may be able to make suggestions about how to ease the care burden on relatives or might note particular challenges a patient is having and come up with potential solutions on the spot.

5. Excellent References

References let you know how other patients and families feel about the care they received from a particular hospice organization. Ask hospice care providers if you can contact previous clients. You might also want to get references from local medical professionals who have previously referred patients to hospice care. If your own doctor referred you to a specific hospice care provider, ask why that one was recommended.

You might also be able to find client testimonials on the websites of local hospice care providers, which can provide insight into how positive the care experience has been for previous patients.

At Three Oaks Hospice in Chicago, we are committed to providing compassionate end-of-life care tailored to each patient’s needs. Our care team works together to provide everything from medical support for managing symptoms to soothing music therapy and spiritual programs that ease the mind. We encourage interested families looking for hospice or palliative care in Chicago to check out our online reviews and testimonials or give us a call to speak to our staff and learn more about the options we have available for helping individuals with a terminal or life-limiting illness get the care they need.