While it’s a Medicare requirement that hospices make bereavement services available to the family and others identified in the bereavement care plan, the value of a hospice bereavement services program goes well beyond mere compliance. A hospice bereavement services program is both an important responsibility and a great opportunity. That being said, it’s important to take an intimate look at your program. You need to discover where you excel, and where there may be opportunity for improvement. You can’t do that without good data.

What is the hospice bereavement services program requirement for Medicare?

The Medicare hospice conditions of participation say hospices must “have an organized program for the provision of bereavement services furnished under the supervision of a qualified professional with experience or education in grief or loss counseling.” Additionally, hospices must develop a bereavement plan of care that identifies the kind of bereavement services to be offered and the frequency of service delivery. Bereavement services must be made available to the family and other individuals in the bereavement plan of care up to one year following the death of their loved one. Finally, a hospice bereavement services program should reflect the needs of the bereaved. This is where collecting good data comes in. If you don’t know what your clients think about your program, how can you be sure you’re effectively meeting their needs?

What types of services are available from a hospice bereavement services program?

Hospices may offer a number of services to help individuals cope with the death of their loved one. This includes individualized support, support groups, memorial services, and written resources. Hospices generally offer regular support by telephone or through mail communications in the year following the death of the loved one, but the bereaved are typically welcome to request assistance at any time. A hospice can choose what type of support to offer their clients. Decisions on this should be made based on client feedback so the services that you’re offering are the services that clients need and want.

What is the importance of a hospice bereavement services program to QAPI?

The Medicare CoPs require that hospices have a data-driven, hospice-wide QAPI program. Since hospice care doesn’t stop when the patient passes, bereavement services should be included in your QAPI program. A robust QAPI program is a critical component of your hospice’s planning process. It ensures uniform quality of care and services across your hospice. This commitment to quality extends beyond caring for hospice patients to caring for the bereaved following death. Understanding the impact and effectiveness of your hospice bereavement program is an important piece of ensuring a comprehensive QAPI program.

How should we evaluate the quality of our hospice bereavement services program?

Through an effective hospice bereavement services program, you support the unique hospice mission to care for both the patient and his/her loved ones. Additionally, you strengthen the likelihood that the bereaved will become advocates of your hospice’s work within your community.

One important way to understand the impact of your hospice bereavement services program is to measure satisfaction using HEALTHCAREfirst’s Hospice Grief Support Services survey (HGSS). Adapted from the NHPCO Evaluation of Grief Support Services (EGSS) survey, the HGSS survey offers valuable feedback on how your hospice bereavement services program. Key benefits include:

  • Fully transcribed client comments that give you greater insight into the client experience. They offer a clear, firsthand account of the services you provide.
  • Comment Alert! system lets you to share positive feedback with your team. It also enables you to quickly respond to negative feedback.
  • Supplemental questions that deliver additional insight and are consistent with the Hospice CAHPS survey, including “Would You Recommend” and “Emotional Support After Death.” This allows you to easily compare results across the continuum of hospice care.
  • HEALTHCAREfirst-specific composite measures group similarly focused questions by topic and report overall performance, consistent with data analysis and interpretation for Hospice CAHPS.

The HEALTHCAREfirst Difference

HEALTHCAREfirst has an entire suite of comprehensive hospice quality management solutions that enable you implement a data-drive approach to managing your QAPI program. Our solutions alleviate administrative burdens and allow you to analyze performance from many perspectives to drive meaningful improvement. More hospices choose us because of our incredible combination of experience and value.

Contact us to learn more