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Nov 22, 2021 | Foundation, News, Nursing, Patient Stories, Social Work, Spiritual Care

Donors help the hospice team overcome barriers for a patient in homelessness

Patient experiencing homelessnessThe end-of-life process can be difficult and scary. Patients can face additional challenges during this time, such as a lack of resources or support systems. This was the case for one Hospice of the Northwest patient, whose journey was also complicated by homelessness.

Mark* came to hospice with a difficult past. He lived with the challenges of mental health, substance use, and homelessness. These barriers had gotten in the way of his medical care for many years, making it difficult to find healthcare or access support services. Now, the bureaucratic pain from these past experiences made it hard to trust the hospice team he needed at the end of his life.

“As a social worker, I am so proud to be able to support people in the community that might not otherwise be able to access medical care,” said Mark’s Hospice of the Northwest Social Worker, Katie. “Our team was able to come together and meet him where he was. We helped take care of his symptoms and really advocated to create a long-term care plan that would be safe and healthy for him as he approached the end of his life.”

To meet Mark’s needs, the team established a plan to stay mobile and provide care within his environment. Mark’s nurse, Nadine, worked creatively to address his symptoms while making sure he was comfortable, regardless of where he was living. Katie collaborated with community partners and was able to arrange a safe place for him to live. Mark had been estranged from his family for many years, so his spiritual counselor, Deana, helped him process his end-of-life journey and reconnect with his family.

“It really took all of us working together with our separate strengths, with each of our disciplines,” said Katie. “It was beautiful seeing this process come together for him. He had a safe place to live, reconnected with his family, and he was able to pass peacefully with them at his bedside.”

Another important member of the hospice team was the network of donors supporting patient care through the Hospice of the Northwest Foundation. Donor funds provided resources that profoundly impacted Mark’s quality of life, giving him compassion and dignity during this most vulnerable time. Often, the hospice team would bring his favorite snacks or a beverage to the visit, purchased with gift cards provided by the Foundation. These small gifts provided an opportunity for the team to share small moments of joy with Mark. Donors also provided support to address the biggest barrier for Mark, his lack of safe housing, by paying for a motel until he was accepted into a facility. 

“One of the robust parts of our team is that we are able to request support from the Hospice of the Northwest Foundation, where really wonderful, generous donors offer their resources to help support our community,” noted Katie.

* Patient name has been changed

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