A Consumer Guide to Hospice Care. Coleman B. Washington, DC, National Consumer's League, 1985, 25 pages, $4.
This guide to hospice care is written to provide people who might utilize hospice with a background of the variety of programs offered and the type of service that might be expected. It outlines the usual requirements of hospice programs and the various ways they are organized and funded. Case examples of families who used a wide range of services and families who used only a few of the services are given.
The guide promotes a positive view of hospice care, but also is realistic in cautioning consumers that some hospices provide better and more comprehensive services than others. A checklist for consumers at the end helps families ask questions that will give them a good understanding of what services a particular hospice will be able to deliver.
The guide would be helpful to professionals who know little about hospice as well as to families with at least a high school education. Families with an eighth-grade education or less would have trouble understanding much of the material on different organizational forms and regulations and would need a simpler presentation. Also, families under a great deal of stress, who are finding it difficult to make choices in how to care for a loved one who is dying, would do better to have a more concise explanation of the local hospice programs available.
The strength of the guide is its comprehensive coverage and yet personal attention to actual case presentations in a booklet that can easily be read in a half hour. It should however be read prior to the crises of decision making whenever possible. If the first exposure to the guide is the day of hospital discharge, a less detailed presentation is needed.