The Southern California Hospice Foundation is building the first-of-its-kind residential, end-of-life care home to be established in Orange County, Calif., and the fourth such residence in the state. Dubbed Heavenly Home, the six-bedroom facility provides vulnerable hospice patients with a place to live during the last three weeks of life, staffed with full time caregivers.
The foundation expects the $775,000 facility to open in 2021 in Mission Viejo, Calif. The organization is not a hospice provider. They are a nonprofit foundation that seeks to fill patient and family needs that occur outside of the Medicare hospice benefit, such as food, utility bills, housing, transportation, final wishes and other services.
Hospice providers will come into the Heavenly Home facility to actually provide the care. The project is designed to serve patients who cannot remain in their own homes, have no caregivers, have no residence of their own, and who cannot afford or access assisted living or other facilities.
“The Heavenly Home project is our newest endeavor, aimed at addressing housing and caregiving for patients at the end of life,” Michelle Wulfestieg, executive director of Southern California Hospice Foundation, told Hospice News. “The idea of hospice is that the provider goes wherever the patient calls home, so Heavenly Home project will be a place for patients who don’t have the ability to die in their own home. The hospice will come in and provide hospice care as though it were the patients’ own home.”
The project was inspired in part by experiences of patients such as Frank, an oncology nurse who himself was diagnosed with terminal cancer. As he neared death, Frank’s landlord asked him to leave his home to avoid having to disclose that someone died in the residence when the building went up for sale, Wulfestieg told Hospice News. Frank was unable to work, had no income and his family lived in other states.
Anonymous donors were able to help Frank, opening up their own home to him during the last three weeks of his life. After Heavenly Home begins operations, the facility will provide space for more patients who have similar needs.
Patients will be required to pay an estimated daily fee of $400 to $500 to reside at Heavenly Home. The facility will offer a sliding scale, allowing patients to pay what they can afford, with. philanthropic dollars making up any shortfalls between these payments and the organization’s costs.
In addition to the hospices that will come in to provide care, two certified nurse assistants will be onsite 24 hours per day, seven days per week.
“We have great relationships with hospcies in the community,” Wulfestieg. “When we do open our doors we intend to reach out to those hospices that we work with, letting them know that this is a location where they can place patients discharged from the hospital who may not have the means to go to their own home.”