Hospice Houses for the Homeless

The development of Hospice Houses offering a haven for homeless people who are also facing a serious or terminal illness – helping them get off the street at this difficult time of life – is starting to spread. I reported on this model – and the challenges and rewards of trying to create a safe hospice home for the homeless — in the newsletter of the Hospice House Network (www.hospicehouse.us) and in a 2017 post at the Lancet’s United States of Health U.S. blog page.

Recent news stories have profiled the spread of this model, such as Grace House Akron in Ohio, a nonprofit organization trying to establish a home for dying patients who don’t have a home or caregivers at the end of their lives. Modeled on a similar charity called Malachi House in Cleveland, its developers concluded that building a new six-bed structure from scratch would cost less than rehabbing an existing structure. They held a launch event May 3 at the Akron Civic Theater.

Another Hospice House for the homeless, Journey Home Hospice, opened April 30 in Toronto, Ontario, as a partnership of agencies including Hospice Toronto. They started with four beds at a pilot site but aim to create a 10-bed hospice in the next two years as an extension of home-based palliative care. In Sacramento, Calif., Joshua’s House is being developed by a group led by a retired associate professor in the UC Davis School of Medicine in memory of her grandson, who died on the street in Nebraska in 2014. And in Salt Lake City, the Inn Between, one of the earliest Hospice Houses for the homeless, is moving to a new larger location and hopes eventually to have 75 beds.

These types of programs are born out of the belief that no one should die alone or on the street. They typically work with existing hospice agencies with established home-based care teams that bring a similar level of interdisciplinary hospice services into the Hospice House. With all of the discussion nationally about homelessness and how to address it, Hospice Houses for the homeless are an important addition to the continuum of services in society’s safety net.

Larry Beresford, Editor and Publisher

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