A hospice must routinely provide substantially all core services directly by hospice employees. These services must be provided in a manner consistent with acceptable standards of practice. These services include nursing services, medical social services, and counseling. The hospice may contract for physician services as specified in paragraph (a) of this section. A hospice may use contracted staff, if necessary, to supplement hospice employees in order to meet the needs of patients under extraordinary or other non-routine circumstances. A hospice may also enter into a written arrangement with another Medicare certified hospice program for the provision of core services to supplement hospice employee/staff to meet the needs of patients. Circumstances under which a hospice may enter into a written arrangement for the provision of core services include: Unanticipated periods of high patient loads, staffing shortages due to illness or other short-term temporary situations that interrupt patient care; and temporary travel of a patient outside of the hospice's service area.
(a) Standard: Physician services. The hospice medical director, physician employees, and contracted physician(s) of the hospice, in conjunction with the patient's attending physician, are responsible for the palliation and management of the terminal illness and conditions related to the terminal illness.
(1) All physician employees and those under contract, must function under the supervision of the hospice medical director.
(2) All physician employees and those under contract shall meet this requirement by either providing the services directly or through coordinating patient care with the attending physician.
(3) If the attending physician is unavailable, the medical director, contracted physician, and/or hospice physician employee is responsible for meeting the medical needs of the patient.
(b) Standard: Nursing services.
(1) The hospice must provide nursing care and services by or under the supervision of a registered nurse. Nursing services must ensure that the nursing needs of the patient are met as identified in the patient's initial assessment, comprehensive assessment, and updated assessments.
(2) If State law permits registered nurses to see, treat, and write orders for patients, then registered nurses may provide services to beneficiaries receiving hospice care.
(3) Highly specialized nursing services that are provided so infrequently that the provision of such services by direct hospice employees would be impracticable and prohibitively expensive, may be provided under contract.
(c) Standard: Medical social services. Medical social services must be provided by a qualified social worker, under the direction of a physician. Social work services must be based on the patient's psychosocial assessment and the patient's and family's needs and acceptance of these services.
(d) Standard: Counseling services. Counseling services must be available to the patient and family to assist the patient and family in minimizing the stress and problems that arise from the terminal illness, related conditions, and the dying process. Counseling services must include, but are not limited to, the following:
(1) Bereavement counseling. The hospice must:
(i) 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.
(ii) Make bereavement services available to the family and other individuals in the bereavement plan of care up to 1 year following the death of the patient. Bereavement counseling also extends to residents of a SNF/NF or ICF/IID when appropriate and identified in the bereavement plan of care.
(iii) Ensure that bereavement services reflect the needs of the bereaved.
(iv) Develop a bereavement plan of care that notes the kind of bereavement services to be offered and the frequency of service delivery. A special coverage provision for bereavement counseling is specified in § 418.204(c).
(2) Dietary counseling. Dietary counseling, when identified in the plan of care, must be performed by a qualified individual, which include dietitians as well as nurses and other individuals who are able to address and assure that the dietary needs of the patient are met.
(3) Spiritual counseling. The hospice must:
(i) Provide an assessment of the patient's and family's spiritual needs.
(ii) Provide spiritual counseling to meet these needs in accordance with the patient's and family's acceptance of this service, and in a manner consistent with patient and family beliefs and desires.
(iii) Make all reasonable efforts to facilitate visits by local clergy, pastoral counselors, or other individuals who can support the patient's spiritual needs to the best of its ability.
(iv) Advise the patient and family of this service.