When a loved one is given a terminal diagnosis, the goal moves from beating the disease to making their last days as comfortable as possible. To accomplish this, many choose to enroll the patient in a hospitality care program. Hospice programs are live-in care services designed to allow patients needing frequent hospital visits a more permanent, comfortable alternative to a hotel (or worse, frequent commutes from home).

Around most quality hospitals, there are a number of hospitices programs to choose from. Like all choices that affect a loved one with a life-limiting illness, this decision can feel overwhelming. In an effort to streamline this important decision-making process, here are a few questions that need to be answered in order to choose the program that is right for your loved one.

Who would you recommend?
Your doctor has reasonably deal with most of the programs surrounding your hospital. Ask for his opinion on the matter. If a member of his or her family were to need hospital care, where would he send them? What criteria does he base that decision on? Does he have a personal connection with that facility that influences his decision? Have previous patients complained to him about any specific programs? Your doctor is a valuable resource for information, so use it to the fullest extent.

How does the program communicate with the hospital?
Are the workers and volunteers up to speed on your loved one's condition, or will you need to provide a copy of the medical records yourself? Will they be sending updates to your doctor? Make sure that the service you are entrusting with the last days of someone's life is playing an active role in their treatment plan.

How are services provided after hours?
How many staff are available at night? Who will be available to administrator treatments after hours? How many after hours staff are volunteers? How thoroughly have the volunteers been trained on your loved one's treatment program?

What services are provided?
Obviously food and lodging must meet your standards, but what other services does the program offer? What entertainment will be available for your loved one on their good days? Is childcare provided for family members coming for an extended visit? What kind of grief counseling is available? With which long-term care facilities do they work? These questions are critical when choosing a program with an indeterminate length of stay.

What is the hospice program's mission, or goal, for your loved one?
This question may seem superfluous, but it is critical to understanding the vision behind the program's treatment plan. Do they have a clear idea of ​​what they hope to provide not only to the patient, but also to the family and friends who will be leaving on this program to provide for their loved one in their greatest moment of need. Make sure that the mission statement of the program matches up with what you desire for your loved one in their final days.