Mitchell House, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in Sioux City, Iowa, is opening the city’s first boarding house for hospice patients in fall of 2020.
The house is designed for terminally ill patients whose residences are not suitable for routine or continuous home care, or those whose care needs are too complex for family caregivers to manage. In some instances, caregivers may also be unable to support their dying loved one due to their own illness, injury or frailty.
While Mitchell House doesn’t provide medical care directly, local hospices and other health care providers, as appropriate, will have access to the facility to treat patients residing there. Nurses, volunteers and aides affiliated with the house will be onsite 24/7 to provide additional support.
Organizations such as Mitchell House allow patients who can’t end their lives at home to avoid admission to a hospital or nursing home.
“The severity of the hospice clients’ conditions will vary. But because each patient is followed by an individual hospice agency with their individualized plan of care, we will have them to rely on for care,” said Ann Meyers, a Mitchell House board member and director of the Hospice of Siouxland. “Even patients who have able caregivers may not have a home that is set up appropriately for end of life care. This would fit into their needs. Sometimes younger people who are passing away don’t want their children to have that image in their home of their parents passing. Also people may not have family will have the choice to not go into a nursing home. We will provide another option.”
The facility will feature six furnished suites that include a 400-square-foot bedroom, a bathroom and a dressing area, as well as a “great room” with a fireplace where patients, family and friends can gather and interact. The great room will be large with vaulted ceilings, and patients and families will have access to a dining room and a playroom for younger visitors. Mitchell House will also include a shared kitchen, pantry and laundry facility that family members can use, as well as free wireless internet. The exterior will include a garden and a small wooded area.
The project is financed mostly through philanthropy, with a fundraising goal of $4.5 million. Of those funds, $2.5 million will be allocated for the building and operations with the remaining $2 million being placed in an endowment.
The house will be named for Ray Mitchell, Jr., husband of the facility’s founder and board member, Margaret Mitchell-Wilcox, who died in 1997.
“The board is made up of people that have strong histories with her space and knowledge of hospice. We are passionate about making this very home-like and not institutional,” Meyers said.