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Thu, Jun 11th 2015 02:00 pm

Until recently, there were no programs offered locally to train individuals who wished to pursue a career as a home health aide (HHA). Instead, they had to travel to Rochester to receive proper training - a process that was inconvenient, timely and costly for everyone involved.

As the only hospice provider in Niagara County, Niagara Hospice looks to recruit the best staff for each discipline of care. Home health aides are an essential part of the Hospice team. They provide basic bedside care and assist with bathing, dressing and eating. The HHA often spends the most time with the patient and family, so proper training is essential.

Kay Dekker, Vice President of Hospice Services said, "We were having a great deal of trouble finding exceptional home health aide candidates to provide care to our patients, both at home and at Hospice House." In 2013, looking for a solution to recruit well- trained HHA's, Dekker approached the Orleans-Niagara BOCES program to collaborate on a home health aide training program in Niagara County.

As part of the application process to the state education department to become a certified program, BOCES needed to partner with facilities willing to provide sites where supervised training hours could be provided. Niagara Hospice agreed to provide space for the training programs at Niagara Hospice House, located on Sunset Drive in Lockport. Following the approval of the state education department, BOCES started training home health aides from all over Niagara County. Karen Kwandrans, RN and Health Occupations Coordinator at BOCES, said: "The HHA's had a wonderful experience at Niagara Hospice. Janet and the staff were great!"

Janet Ligammari, RN and Niagara Hospice House Clinical Director, was equally enthusiastic. "It has been so rewarding to work with the home health aides at Hospice House," she said. "These training programs have really benefited HHA trainees as well as the organizations where they will one day work, including Niagara Hospice."

BOCES has a history of support and collaboration with Niagara Hospice. Most recently, students from the Orleans-Niagara BOCES Niagara Career and Technical Education Center (NCTEC) Culinary Arts Program made a donation to support Niagara Hospice's work. The students in Mr. Bob Ihle's class raised $500 at their Thanksgiving baked goods sale and Annual Open House pasta dinner. Over 300 pasta dinners were served at the event. Many of the students that participate in the program go on to careers in the culinary arts. Two graduates of the NCTEC Culinary Arts Program, Tiffany Clark and Jen Anderson, now work in the culinary department at Niagara Hospice House.

"We are fortunate to have such a wonderful vocational high school program in our area, particularly one that also supports community organizations like Niagara Hospice," said Sal Lipuma, Director of Support Services at Niagara Hospice House. "We are very grateful for their continued support and enthusiasm."

The NCTEC Culinary Arts Program has been a long-time supporter of Niagara Hospice through various fundraisers, and by baking desserts for several Niagara Hospice events for the community and bereaved family members.

Niagara Hospice has served over 25,000 Niagara County residents and their families since 1988. Hospice is specialized care for the terminally ill. Niagara Hospice provides supportive services to both the patient and family - providing more care, comfort, dignity and choice. For more information, call Niagara Hospice at 439-4417 or visit www.NiagaraHospice.org.


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