Why a ‘comfort care’ home is the goal of a new local organizing campaign
By CHERYL PLETCHER, RN
As a hospice nurse, much time and effort is spent with a family to identify what is important as the end of a life draws near. Working in this sacred phase of life is a blessing beyond compare. The territory is uncharted for the person who is on the journey, and often for the family as well. And so, I serve as a guide as well as nurse and comforter.
Some events in life are given great time and thought in preparation, such as weddings and the birth of a child. The finish line of life seems to loom as an unexpected and unwelcome part of the race of life whether your age is young or old. Like any vacation journey, there is always a time to return home.
The finish line that I see locally includes personal as well as community resources. The most important and nearly essential resource is a family or people to serve as your family caregiver. The cornerstone of the end of life health care system is the hospice program. Hospice has professionals to visit you at home, wherever you live, to create a plan of care that offers quality and comfort on your terms.
Unfortunately, there is a gap in the hospice system related to the caregiver segment. You cannot die safely at home alone. A plan must be devised to find a place of care giving if you do not have a family willing or able to provide 24-hour care. For those with financial resources, caregivers can be hired for care at home. Staying at home in familiar surroundings is always the best option. But not all hospice patients are fortunate enough to have either family or financial resources.
The gap is not in medical care but family care. Hospice does not provide a family.
A wonderful community model for end of life care has developed in other states and is now in Iredell County. Serenity House in Mooresville partners with four local hospice programs to serve those patients and families who are unable to provide care at home until the passing occurs. No fees are charged by the Carolina Comfort Coalition, the charity that operates this 2 bed non-medical group home. Community members and service groups in the town rally finances as well as volunteers to serve the neediest of people with an act of mercy – caring for those at the finish line of life. Serenity House has served residents from Davidson as well as Cornelius since opening in 2007.
Dreaming for Davidson is the newest project of the Carolina Comfort Coalition to expand this comfort care home model of care into the Davidson / Cornelius area.
Establishing a new Serenity type house supports the Council of Aging’s goal to promote aging in place. A comfort care home in any town touches many lives as we each make our way around the final curve when our turn and time arrives to finish our race. Precious lives deserve precious care.
Cheryl Pletcher is Executive Director of Carolina Comfort Coalition, which runs Serenity House in Mooresville.