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Online Tools to Compare Hospice Care in New Jersey

More than half the hospice programs in New Jersey are ranked above average, according to a website just launched by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

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For the first time, the dying and their family members have a way to rate and compare hospice programs, with this rating tool ranking more than half of New Jersey programs above average.

The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently launched the Hospice Compare website, which, like the Nursing Home Compare page, allows people to see ratings for programs and compare them to others.

Follow this link to search an interactive database of hospices in New Jersey.

The information on the site provides a snapshot of the quality of care each hospice facility provided to its patients between October 2015 and September 2016, according to CMS. It is important to compare hospices because the quality of care given to patients can vary. There are seven quality indicators reported, including the percentage of patients checked for pain and the proportion asked about their preferences for life-sustaining treatment. (See the story, New Jersey Funds Project to Improve End-of-Life Care.)

Nationally, hospices scored very high on six of the seven indicators, with more than 90 percent compliance. The only measure with a lower score was the timely and thorough assessment of patient pain, with about 78 percent of hospices passing that.

Full scores are available for 49 hospices in New Jersey, with at least partial data for another seven and three reporting no data.

Of those reporting information for all measures, 27 ranked above the national average. Six had near perfect scores in all seven indicators. Tri-County Home and Hospice Care of Woodbury in Gloucester County got perfect scores on five of the seven metrics and 99 percent on the other two.

On the other hand, 13 of the hospices in the state scored less than 50 percent on at least one measure, nearly all on the pain assessment metric, which requires that within a day of learning about a patient’s pain, hospice staff find out the length and severity of pain. Life Source Services of Paramus in Bergen had a perfect score for treating shortness of breath, but reportedly did not ask any patients about their spiritual and religious beliefs at the beginning of their care, which CMS says should be done to help ensure all of a patient’s needs are met.

The only county for which no hospices were reported was Warren. Several other counties had only one program listed, which could make comparisons moot. Still, most hospices in the state serve more than one county, according to the New Jersey Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.

In addition to ratings by agency, the site includes information about hospice care, a checklist of questions to ask when looking for a hospice, and a way to file a complaint about hospice services.

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