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Calculating the volunteer cost savings match

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What are hospice volunteers?

The hospice movement was started by volunteers and there are currently more than 460,000 hospice volunteers nationwide. 

To retain the volunteer-based essence of hospice, one of the Medicare conditions of participation requires that hospices incorporate volunteer services into their daily patient care and operations routine.

Is there a requirement on the number of hospice volunteer hours?

Medicare requires that volunteer must provide services that equal at least 5% of the total patient care hours of all paid hospice employees and contract staff. Read more about this requirement here: What is a hospice’s volunteer requirement?

How is the Medicare 5% requirement calculated?

The percentage of volunteer time is calculated in three steps:

  • Step 1:  Calculate the sum of volunteer direct care patient hours plus volunteer  bereavement support patient hours plus volunteer administrative hours. See What is a hospice’s volunteer requirement? for clarification on these various types of volunteer hours and activities as well as clarification on what volunteer activities may be applied for use in this calculation.
  • Step 2: Calculate the sum of employee direct care patient hours plus contractor direct care patient hours
  • Step 3: Divide the number in Step 1 by the number in Step 2 and multiply by 100. The result is the percentage of volunteer hours

What activities performed by hospice employees or contractors are included?

Similar to the limitations placed on volunteer activities that may be included for the purposed of this Medicare match calculation, not all activities performed by a hospice’s employees or contractors are included in Step 2. 

Hours for the following staff are included in the calculation (though others may be included as well): nurse, social worker, physician, physical therapist, hospice aide, chaplain, bereavement counselor

  • All direct care activities are included in the calculation
  • Telephone calls to patients, families, or surviving family members are included
  • Staff education time is not included 
  • IDG time is not included

Where can you get more information?

Read more about hospice volunteer requirements: NHPCO Hospice Volunteer FAQ