"It Takes A Community"

Newaygo County Compassion Home

"Because The End of Life is Still a Part Of Living"

Mission

To provide compassionate loving support to the terminally ill in a peaceful, comfortable home setting while caring for the physical, spiritual and emotional needs of our guests and their families.



Vision

To establish homes that will provide a safe, supportive, loving environment for persons suffering in the end stages of terminal illness.  

The end of life is still part of living  

Imagine… the sorrow as the person most loved by you is in the final chapter of his or her life. This person may be your mother, father, spouse, child or friend. This beloved individual has shared life’s best and worst moments with you. Together you have experienced many life lessons and you are eternally grateful for all you have learned. Alas, it is time for one final lesson as your loved one teaches you how to die with grace and dignity. Over the past three years you have been a constant companion and you have watched your loved one fight to regain his or her health, but disease is a formidable opponent. He or she is simply unable to continue to endure the deterioration of the body as the disease forges on. The last three years have taken their toll on you as well. You have been trying to juggle your own family, career and commitments while supporting your loved one. You have been left with feelings of inadequacy and guilt for you cannot stop this disease. You have been desperately hoping for a miracle and you pray that miracle is one more day, one more week, one more month, so you can demonstrate how very much you love him or her. Eventually, you begin to understand that you must accept life on life’s terms. You realize the miracle is not more time, but the quality of the moments you share right now. The miracle is the support you can give right now. The miracle is the compassion and love you can give in this moment. The miracle is in the support you receive from the Compassion Home as they partner with you to provide the tender support that both you and your loved one need during his or her final chapter in life.


The Vision

For years the medical community has recognized the lack of resources available for end of life care in Newaygo County, West Michigan and throughout the country. In the fall of 2013 a group of nurses in Newaygo County learned about the Mother Teresa House in Lansing, Michigan. A three bedroom home staffed mainly by volunteers, Mother Teresa House works with area hospice agencies to provide compassionate, respectful end of life care for those who are not able to stay in their home. The vision was born to bring that same undeniable peaceful, calm option to the residents of Newaygo County.


Over the course of three years members of the Mother Teresa House and the Toni and Trish House in Midland, Michigan have mentored a growing group of dedicated nurses and community leaders to establish a home for the dying in Newaygo County. A comfortable home setting creates a safe place to nourish the physical, spiritual and emotional needs of dying guests and their families. The group chose a name that would reflect the mission of the organization and the Newaygo County Compassion Home for the Terminally Ill was founded. Informally, it is fondly referred to as the Compassion Home. The vision is simple; establish a home in Newaygo County that will provide a safe, supportive, loving environment for persons suffering in the end stages of terminal illness. It is our desire to become a strong model for the establishment of similar homes throughout West Michigan.


The Newaygo County Compassion Home for the Terminally Ill was incorporated as a 501(c) 3 in October of 2015. As members of the Omega Social Hospice Network, the Compassion Home was  able to establish a two bedroom home in White Cloud, Michigan in July 2018.   The Compassion continues to develop support that will establish a (4) four bedroom home in Fremont, Michigan to be open in the Summer/Fall 2020.


The Need

Stanford School of Medicine studies have shown that approximately 80% of Americans would prefer to die at home or in a home-like setting. Yet only 20% of Americans die at home. Most spend their final days in the sterile environment of an acute care facility surrounded by machines and strangers.


Why

For many facing end of life, families are separated by geography, while others are simply unable to care for the terminally ill due to lack of resources or not having a safe space within the home. Not only is there a shortage of family caregivers and paid caregivers, but families need respite. There are also cultural barriers to hospice care and most families lack the knowledge and experience to care for a dying loved one. Family members may struggle to maintain a balance between their terminally ill loved one and the demands of their own children and jobs. Compassion Home will provide a solution at a fragile and vulnerable time of life. Karen M. Wyatt, MD, author of What Really Matters: 7 Lessons for Living from the Stories of the Dying, states “social hospice homes may revolutionize end of life care in the United States”.


The social hospice model stems from passionate grassroots efforts to establish community supported homes offering a place of warmth and loving care for people who can no longer remain in their own homes during the last months of life. End-of- life homes vary in size, appearance and internal policies. Located in multiple states across the country, they all share a common holistic foundation and philosophy. Each home reflects the spirit of the people and the culture of the community that came together to create and sustain it.


    • Community supported homes for end-of-life care

        • Are fundamentally grass-roots in nature

          • Are raised by the community and proudly belong to the community

            • Are independent and freestanding

              • Are not funded by Medicare/Medicaid/Insurance Providers

                • Are staffed by paid caregivers and volunteers who “quickly become extended family”

                  • Work collaboratively with the residents hospice provider

                    • Complement the services that already exists in the community

                      • Are not a hospital, nursing home, hospice or medical facility
                      • Provide a home and family to those facing end of life and carry the heart of everything that means


                      We Will Serve

                      Guests of the Compassion Home will be in the last days to weeks of a terminal illness. Each guest will be under hospice care provided by one of the hospice providers serving Newaygo County. A recent survey of six local providers showed that 145 residents in Newaygo County were actively serviced by hospice at that moment. It was indicated that while some of those receiving services had adequate resources, many of them needed additional support. Newaygo County hospice agencies are supportive of the concept of a social hospice home to fill the gap in services.


                      Guests that meet criteria for admission to the Compassion Home will be cared for regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation or age. We intend to serve up to three guests at one time. We estimate that we will serve approximately 100 guests per year. In addition to serving our guests, family members will be supported. Volunteers of the Compassion Home will also be affected. We anticipate the total number of individuals who will be positively impacted by the Compassion Home in one year to be approximately 500. The Compassion Home is a community supported endeavor and we believe the residual effects will be positive for all involved.


                      Conclusion

                      Facing one’s own mortality or the mortality of a loved one is one of the most challenging experiences of this life. Atul Gawande, M.D. is an American surgeon, best-selling author and public health researcher. In his book, Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End, he states

                      “In the end, people don’t view their life as merely the average of all its moments-which, after all, is mostly nothing much plus some sleep. For human beings, life is meaningful because it is a story. A story has a sense of a whole, and its arc is determined by the significant moments, the ones where something happens. Measurements of people’s minute-by-minute levels of pleasure and pain miss the fundamental aspect of human existence. A seemingly happy life may be empty. A seemingly difficult life may be devoted to a great cause. We have purpose larger than ourselves. Our ultimate goal, after all, is not a good death but a good life to the very end.”


                      Inspired by Mother Teresa of Calcutta’s modern day example of serving the poor, the destitute and the dying the medical community of Newaygo County is coming together to care for those at the end of life…Because the end of life is part of living…