Peace at the End of Life
Everyone deserves to experience peace at the end of life. Caring House was established to ease the burden associated with caring for a loved one at the end of life and/or spending it in a facility, and we’ve transformed the experience into a peaceful and dignified one. Now, instead of worrying about their loved one’s day-to-day needs, family and friends spend their time supporting and connecting with their loved one and each other in our calm, tranquil home-based setting, which has a profoundly positive effect on their mental wellness.
What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?
In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?
In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?
Expand existing project, program, or initiative
What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?
The Stanford School of Medicine reports that 80% of Americans would prefer to die at home, if possible. In reality, 60% die in hospitals, 20% in nursing homes and only 20% at home. Many families are unable or prefer other options for numerous reasons. Most notably, the day-to-day needs required do not allow families to be fully present and process their emotions, while connecting in an intimate way. The alternative is often a medical facility with bright lights and loud noises. We’ve also heard stories of stressful or traumatic experiences around a loved one’s death and the years of anguish that resulted. Then there’s the feedback shared by our families – one such example: "I never really understood how much taking care of my husband during these last few months was affecting us both. The mental and physical exhaustion was overwhelming. To be able to go back to being his wife instead of his caretaker, even if it was just for one short week, was a gift I will forever be grateful for…"
Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.
Caring House is the first and only non-profit, home-based setting in LA County completely focused on helping residents and families through the end-of-life journey. Although we opened the doors to our home in early 2016, it was actually 14 years in the making. Community members saw the need in 2022 and began planning to make it a reality. When someone chooses to have their loved one stay with us, it’s not just that loved one who received care. We care for the entire family, so they can leave their worries at our front door, including any financial concerns. If a family cannot afford the full cost of care, they are simply asked to pay to the best of their ability. We cover the difference through support from both individual donors and funding like this. Since we don’t turn anyone away for an inability to pay, we serve families with a wide variety of demographics – from background to socio-economic status – a reflection of the diversity in LA County in general. We also proudly reserve two of our bedrooms for those with much higher financial need, including a small percentage of the homeless population. Our home is also just that, a home. Nestled in a tree-shaded residential neighborhood with a white picket fence and idyllic gardens, our founders purposefully created a calm and tranquil home environment – a home-away-from-home for our families – where the six private bedrooms are designed for peace and dignity, and it smells like home in the form of fresh-baked cookies.
Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.
While many make arrangements about finances following death, so few consider the end-of-life process itself. Once the process begins, everyone is emotional and stressed. Then, overwhelmed with the responsibilities and decisions, countless families have come close to their breaking point during admissions, and conversations often revolve around cost. Our ultimate goal is to relieve that stress, so families can just be families, process their emotions, and experience a peaceful resolution. We are committed to providing the most compassionate, supportive care to our families in partnership with the Medicare-certified hospice of their choice. Together, we take care of all the details that overwhelm the families. We also ask for details about our residents and their preferences, so they truly feel at home and families feel at ease, especially when they’re not around. The family of one resident told us that we changed their entire perception of death, calling it “a beautiful death.”
What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?
We measure our impact, in part, through residents and families welcomed. Since 2016, we’ve created better endings for more than 400 residents and families, relieving stress for 2,400 community members. Two-thirds of those families were welcomed thanks to generous community support. We’ve recently seen an increased need in our community. Our average occupancy rate and the number of families we’ve served has grown significantly over the past six months, and we’re on track to help approximately 150% more families in 2022 than prior years. However, as the occupancy rate and number of families served grows, so does the percentage of families in need of financial assistance. That also means we can make more people feel the way this daughter does: “Because of Caring House, my dad got to pass with dignity. Thank you for allowing our final memories of my dad to be in a place where he could watch sports and be at peace. I could never repay you for the support you gave us this year.”
Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?
Direct Impact: 720
Indirect Impact: 1,500