November is National Hospice Month and Mel is at Niagara Hospice to find out about the wonderful work they do there. She talks with nurse practitioner and director of admissions Jane James, NP. Niagara Hospice provides care to patients with life limiting illness with a prognosis of six months or less.
How would you know it is time to consider Hospice care? Jane James says some signs you would normally look for are a decline; some sort of decline like weight loss, loss of appetite, falls, frequent hospitalizations, infections. All those can be signs it may be time to call Hospice.
Jane James says they do provide symptom management and caregiver support for the home. They provide specialized care to the patient and they not only provide care to the patient but also to the family. She says they work with the inner-disciplinary team so they have a nurse, a nurse practitioner, pharmacist, massage therapy, social work and they work with the physicians as well to come up with an individualized plan of care for that patient and their family not only to deal with their symptoms but maybe what going on with the whole family as well and how to deal and cope with this illness.
Hospice is different for each and every patient. Some of their patients have care right at the Hospice House in Lockport but the majority of the patients are cared for right in the home by their own family members. Hospice equips that family to help care for the patient. James says they also have contracts in Niagara County so they can provide Hospice care at Northgate on Nash Road, Schoellkopf in Niagara Falls, and numerous other facilities in the area where they can provide care for the patient in those facilities.
When you are ready to consider Hospice, it is a very emotional time. Hospice encourages you to call anytime to place a referral. Jane James says most of their referrals come from family members, friends, neighbors, and physicians. You can give them a call or go to their website and place a referral. After that they will send a social worker out almost immediately to meet with the family and the patient and discuss what their care is and what they provide. Then they do a nursing evaluation. James says this can all take place the same day the phone call is placed to their facility. She says the moment they get a referral they act on it pretty quickly and they send a nurse out. They do the evaluation and would determine with the medical director if the patient is appropriate and meets criteria for Hospice. After that, she says it is really about coming up with an individualized, specialized plan of care for the patient and their family. James goes on to say the feedback they receive from the family is that they provide so much caregiver relief and symptom management that families are able to enjoy their time together.