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EDUCATION EFFORTS ADDRESS LATE HOSPICE REFERRALS

How will I know? Education campaign to raise awareness of the benefits of earlier referrals for hospice care

Thu, Aug 4th 2016 01:10 pm
Niagara Hospice Volunteer Coordinator Allison Bolt  shares what Hospice is to her, dispelling one of the many myths of 
hospice care.
Niagara Hospice Volunteer Coordinator Allison Bolt shares what Hospice is to her, dispelling one of the many myths of hospice care.
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How will I know? Education campaign to raise awareness of the benefits of earlier referrals for hospice care

(Lockport, NY) - How will I know? That's the question many ask when faced with serious illness. It may be: "How will I know my caregiver needs more help?" Or, "How will I know all the services available to me and my family?" Or it may be, "How will I know it's time to call Hospice?"

"Too many patients come to us with only weeks left to live, or who are actively dying," said Danielle Burngasser, RN, CHPN and Niagara Hospice Director of Homecare and Intake. "These are the patients that break our hearts; knowing we could have done so much more for them and their families had someone just had the hospice conversation with them sooner."

Hospice care is appropriate for individuals with a prognosis of approximately six months or less to live, if the disease were to run its normal course. Some patients live beyond six months. Several studies have shown that people with a terminal illness who choose hospice care often live longer and with better quality of life than those who do not take advantage of their hospice benefit. Hospice services are a fully covered Medicare benefit. Most other insurance providers also cover hospice care, so cost of care should never be a barrier to accessing what is known as the gold standard of end of life care.

Hospice professionals recommend that if you know or meet someone who could use some help - an exhausted caregiver, a neighbor dealing with serious illness - ask them to learn about hospice; to make the call that could be the best call they ever make.

Niagara Hospice director of marketing & public relations, Patricia Degan said, "It's unfortunate that too many families are denied the benefit of hospice care, or wait too long to accept the many supports the hospice team provides. Patients who receive hospice only in their final days, or even hours of life, leave families wishing they had known about hospice care sooner." Degan referred to Dr. Atul Gawande's book, Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End, that explores how patients with terminal diagnoses are often cared for and how many doctors, Gawande included, are not properly trained or prepared to confront sensitive situations such as chronic illness and nearing death. "Many patients die without ever being offered the tangible end-of-life support that hospice care provides," says Degan. "They may instead struggle with untreated pain and with the side-effects of by-now futile curative medical treatments. They suffer all this, in addition to watching their families struggle to cope with the escalating demands of care."

To address the detriment late referrals for hospice care present, Degan stated that the Niagara Hospice Speakers Bureau is actively recruiting service groups, employers, faith groups and anyone interested in learning how to ease the journey when faced with serious illness. Speakers Bureau staff and volunteers welcome the opportunity to speak to Niagara County groups and organizations that want to be better informed on both palliative and hospice care options that are available through Niagara Hospice. Information will also be provided about the Pathways palliative care program that is designed for individuals dealing with serious, chronic illness. Pathways is not for hospice patients and is available to patients receiving curative treatments for disease. Call the Speakers Bureau line at (716) 280-0742 or visit the Resources tab at NiagaraHospice.org to schedule a presentation.

More information about hospice and the Pathways palliative care program is available at www.NiagaraHospice.org or by calling Niagara Hospice at 439-4417.

 

Niagara Hospice has provided end-of-life comfort, care and support since 1988 to over 25,000 Niagara County individuals and families faced with terminal illness. No one is ever denied hospice care due to inability to pay. For more information, visit NiagaraHospice.org or call 716-HOSPICE.

 

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