November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month, and hospices across the country are reaching out to raise awareness about the highest quality care for people coping with life-limiting illness.
Niagara Hospice Director of Marketing and 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 said many patients die without ever being offered the tangible end-of-life support that hospice care provides. 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," Degan said.
Niagara Hospice has several activities planned throughout the month to help increase awareness of hospice care. Several hospice and palliative care educational programs will be held throughout Niagara County at area churches and businesses. Any organization that would like to schedule a presentation can call the Niagara Hospice speakers bureau line at 716-280-0742. Presentations can be scheduled into next year.
Niagara Hospice will also host an advance-care planning program from 3-4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 8, in the administrative building at Niagara Hospice, 4675 Sunset Drive, Lockport. The free program is open to the community, with the goal of encouraging families to have meaningful discussions about critical and end-of-life health care options.
"Advance health care planning allows peace of mind for you and your family by reducing uncertainty, and avoiding confusion and conflict over your care," said Cheryl Ferguson, BSW, MSW, Niagara Hospice social worker. "If you ever become unable to make health care decisions for yourself, who do want to do that for you?"
Ferguson will facilitate the Nov. 8 program and be available to answer questions. Call 716-280-0742 to register for the free program.
In addition to celebrating National Hospice and Palliative Care Month, Niagara Hospice staff and volunteers will celebrate veterans on Veterans Day with hand-delivered patriotic-themed carnations that will be delivered by Niagara Hospice volunteers who are also veterans. Niagara Hospice family caregivers will also be recognized for their hard work in caring for their loved one. They will receive decorated bakery boxes filled with homemade cookies the week of Thanksgiving.
"We want our caregivers to know that they are appreciated and hope they enjoy the cookies made by our volunteers, or that they can share them with family as they gather for the Thanksgiving holiday," volunteer coordinator Allison Bolt said.
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 comfort, dignity and choice. For more information, call 716-439-4417 or visit www.NiagaraHospice.org.