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Learn how you and your family can benefit from expert care and personalized support from the specialists in symptom management and comfort for end-of-life situations.
Admission into hospice is a matter of choice. Individuals and families considering hospice care often have questions. Below are answers to common questions. You can always call (716) 439-4417 to speak to an admissions nurse about services and patient eligibility.
Who qualifies for hospice care?
Niagara Hospice provides care to Niagara County residents whose prognosis is approximately six months or less, if the illness runs its normal course, regardless of diagnosis. Many patients live beyond 6 months due to comfort measures Niagara Hospice can provide. If curative treatment is no longer effective and you desire a treatment plan based on comfort and dignity, hospice care may be appropriate for you. You need not try to determine if you qualify – our intake representatives are available to provide an informational consultation at no cost and with no obligation to accept services.
See the types of symptoms that can lead to hospice care eligibility.
What are some of the signs that it may be time to call Niagara Hospice?
Our goal is to admit people sooner to help with the physical symptoms associated with terminal illness while also alleviating social, emotional and spiritual suffering. If you observe several of the following symptoms and behaviors, it may be time to call:
- Needs help eating, bathing, dressing, toileting or getting out of bed
- Frequent falls, infections or wounds that won’t heal
- Often short of breath
- Unexplained weight loss in recent month or loss of appetite
- Frequent hospitalizations & ER visits
Who can make a referral?
Anyone can call us at (716) 439-4417 or 716-HOSPICE to obtain information or to make a referral for hospice care. If you or a family member call, we will ask permission to contact the primary physician to verify hospice may be appropriate and request medical information.
What happens once a referral is made?
When a referral is made, a Niagara Hospice representative will gather basic information from the individual by phone, and then offer a home visit by an intake representative to fully explain the hospice program. With their consent, Niagara Hospice will contact their physician to obtain medical information and to update their physician on the referral. This is all done free of charge and with no obligation.
If a person is found to be appropriate for hospice care after the confidential consultation, a physician order is requested for admission into our program. If you think hospice may be right for you or a loved one, call (716) 439-4417 and we will do the rest.
Niagara Hospice Admission Process
- With the patient’s consent, the Admissions Department will contact the attending physician to ensure that he or she agrees that hospice care is appropriate.
- The patient or representative will be asked to sign consent for election of hospice services. The consent is similar to the form a patient signs when entering a hospital. It states that the patient understands that hospice care is palliative, aimed at pain relief and symptom control, rather than being a curative treatment. It also outlines the multiple hospice services that will be provided to the patient and family.
- Once a patient’s physician and Hospice agree that hospice care may be appropriate for the patient, the Admissions Department will make an appointment for an Admissions Nurse to visit the patient and family. This visit is to further explain hospice services, to assess the patient’s needs, and to discuss the patient’s and family’s goals of care.
- The patient and the family should have the following information ready for Hospice staff members before they arrive:
- All medications, dosages, and how often medication is taken should be written/printed on a piece of paper
- Any insurance cards and Medicare and/or Medicaid cards
- We respect the patient’s rights and wishes regarding who may receive information regarding their condition. Therefore, we ask that you provide us with a complete list of names, addresses and phone numbers of any family members or friends the patient wants information given to regarding their condition, if necessary.
- A copy of any advance directives, such as a Health Care Proxy, Power of Attorney or Do Not Resuscitate Order (DNR)
- A listing of any durable medical equipment in the home that is from a supplier
- A list of any staff in the home from an agency
- Any other significant information the Hospice staff may need to know
When should I call Hospice?
If you have been diagnosed with a potentially life-threatening illness, it could be time to find out about hospice services so an informed decision can be made by the patient and family. Call us at (716) 439-4417 to get the information you need.
Early hospice referrals enable the hospice team to provide support to patients and primary caregivers at the earliest that guidelines permit. As disease progression occurs, your goals can be met and issues that might arise can be addressed immediately, before they become more difficult to remedy. Unfortunately, too many patients and families have said they wished they had requested hospice services much sooner.
What about payment for hospice services?
Most health insurers including Medicare, Medicaid, Managed Long Term Care (MLTC) plans and the Veteran’s Administration (VA) have hospice coverage. No one is denied hospice care due to inability to pay. Care for patients without insurance or with limited insurance is paid for privately and can be based on a sliding fee scale. Niagara Hospice raises funds to help off-set costs of the under-insured and to support the mission of Niagara Hospice.
Payment for hospice services not provided in the patient’s home
Niagara Hospice maintains service care contracts with many hospitals, nursing homes, intermediate care facilities and adult care facilities. While the services of Niagara Hospice typically involve no expense to the patient, each contract provider may charge fees associated with room and board and/or services provided for care of the patient’s unrelated terminal diagnosis. Each contract and setting is unique. Medicare and Medicaid regulations prevent hospice providers from providing care in non-contracted facilities.
Patients considering hospice care should ask their respective insurance carriers about the impact of accessing hospice either through Medicare and Medicaid, or through private insurance. Each carrier may have limitations of care and/or out-of-pocket expenses. Niagara Hospice personnel will make every effort to ensure all patients are fully informed about their options prior to making a decision about hospice care.
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