Making the Call to Hospice: What to Expect in the First Conversation

by Naomi Clark, RN, BSN, CHPN

Contemplating care near the end of a person’s life can be emotional and challenging. Many times, conversations about end of life are delayed because having these discussions can be difficult and feel like you are giving up on yourself or loved one. No one wants those they care about to die; it’s natural to feel this way.

You can gain some control when facing declining health or a life-limiting illness by being informed and researching the options for care. The best time to learn about your health care options is before a medical crisis happens. It will allow you time to understand your choices and talk through everything with those who care about you, so you can make thought-out decisions that are best for you.

Hospice care is an option for end-of-life care that helps people live comfortably, with a sense of normalcy, regardless of a terminal diagnosis. Hospice is care for the whole person that focuses on comfort and easing the person’s symptoms—physically, spiritually and emotionally. 

The decision to make the initial call to hospice can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Consider thinking about Hospice as a helping hand, extra support and knowledge when traveling an unfamiliar path. If you or a loved one are thinking about hospice, you may already be eligible for the extra support provided by Hospice.

middle aged couple looking at cell phoneAnyone can make the first call to Hospice of the Red River Valley to learn more about this specialized type of care if the patient and family or caregivers understand Hospice is being contacted on their behalf. People who can contact Hospice include the patient themselves, family members or friends, doctor’s office or other community organizations.

Hospice is a lifeline, extra support, TLC and expertise—a way to help ease the burdens of a life-limiting illness while empowering the patient and their caregivers. Hospice is not just for the care of the patient; it’s also care for the entire family through support and guidance as changes happen and the end-of-life journey progresses. Hospice also provides tailored grief support for families and caregivers after the passing of their loved one for up to 13 months.

Calling hospice means you’re ready to focus on quality of life and the specific goals you want to accomplish. For some that may mean simply sitting comfortably and enjoying time with your spouse, meeting your first grandchild, spending another summer in the garden—whatever is most important to you.

The initial call to Hospice includes:

  • Discussing what services may look like
  • Scheduling an in-person visit with you to talk more in depth about your unique situation
  • Gathering background and demographic information from you
  • Sending medical record requests to your health care institution
  • Contacting your physician on your behalf

The initial visit with hospice staff is at no charge, and there are no obligations to proceed with hospice care at that time. We encourage you to have support people present with you during the initial visit, so they can help you listen, take notes and process the information.

Hospice of the Red River Valley welcomes meeting with you any time to answer questions and provide information—even if you don’t feel you’re ready for the care yet. This will help you make the most informed decisions when you are ready in the future. Calling before a crisis hits and learning the information in advance ensures decisions are made with careful consideration and your family members are informed of your health care choices. Our goal is to always lift the burden of worry and alleviate uneasiness of the unknown. Knowledge is power, and the more you can prepare in advance, the less unknowns there will be in the future.

If you’re living with a life-limiting illness, Hospice of the Red River Valley can help. When you’re ready to learn more, contact us or call (800) 237-4629. We’ll visit with you at a time convenient for you. If hospice care is right for you, we will do the follow-up work, including contacting your doctor, starting the necessary paperwork and arranging a visit with a hospice nurse.

Naomi Clark, RN, BSN, CHPN, is an RN clinical intake coordinator with Hospice of the Red River Valley.

About Hospice of the Red River Valley
In 1981, Hospice of the Red River Valley was founded on the belief that everyone deserves access to high-quality end-of-life care. We fulfill our nonprofit mission by providing medical, emotional, personal and spiritual care, as well as grief support to our patients, their families and caregivers during a tender time in life. Our staff helps those we serve experience more meaningful moments through exceptional hospice care, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, wherever a patient calls home. The organization serves more than 40,000 square miles in North Dakota and Minnesota, including in and around Bismarck, Detroit Lakes, Devils Lake, Fargo, Fergus Falls, Grand Forks, Lisbon, Thief River Falls, Valley City and many more communities. Hospice of the Red River Valley offers round-the-clock availability via phone, prompt response times and same-day admissions, including evenings, weekends and holidays. Contact us anytime at 800-237-4629 or


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