Last week I was speaking at the Women, Wealth and Wisdom conference sponsored by the Texas A&M Foundation. This was the 5th year the foundation hosted this empowering conference for women and I was excited to be invited to give the morning keynote.
It was a whole day of speakers with topics and speakers talking about financial planning, estate planning and other topics to empower women to take control of their finances and their life. My talk of course, was Help! My Parents Are Aging. I talked about all of the different options that we now have for elder care in the US and more specifically in Texas.
This talk is always well received as there are so many questions people have. The eldercare system is a difficult one to navigate and often people do not know where to turn for help. This crowd was no different than others I had spoken to and had numerous questions about different situations they have encountered.
But when this lady ask me this question, I literally went nuts! It really struck a cord with me and I wanted to empower everyone in the room with the truth. The question she asked was: "Does the hospital have the right to tell me which hospice company I can use?"
NO! NO! NO!, I screamed! You have the right always to choose whatever company you want . It is not only your right but it is your duty as the advocate for your aging parent tr spouse. The hard truth is, sometimes people in the healthcare system refer you to others for their own financial gain. The doctor who refers you may be the medical director for the hospice company. You are under no obligation to use his company.
Unfortunately, social workers, case managers and others are sometimes bribed with fancy lunches, manicures and pedicure parties for their staff and other goodies. Read: Beware of Referrals From Your Healthcare Worker
The hospital or rehabilitation center may also own a home health agency or a hospice company and guess where they are going to refer you? Oh, they will give you three companies to choose from because that is what the law requires but you will be steered towards their company. They may say something like, " You can choose whoever you like but we already have the records. If you go with another company, you will be starting all over again." Not true!! Every company will have access to the same records.They may send someone from their hospice company to speak to you. Ask to speak to a representative from the other two companies also. It is your choice and your right! No one can take that away from you unless you allow them to.
So here is what I suggest you do. When someone recommends a particular company, ask them why they are recommending that company. They should be able to tell you some success stories or give you concrete reasons why this company is the best choice for your family. You should also know it the hospital or rehab facility who is referring you has an affiliation with the company they are suggesting.
Don't get me wrong. There are a lot of good people in the healthcare system who really want the best for you and your family. the trouble is that all healthcare workers do not have this level of compassion and empathy.
Hospice is a very personal service and you want to have the right fit for your family. I recommend interviewing 2 or 3 to make your decision. Ask your friends if they have used a hospice company they would recommend. Ask friends on Facebook and if you keep hearing the same company multiple times, that is a good sign.
As always, Good luck on your journey!