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A New Trend in Life-Valued Care

ve8QAd   |   April 01, 1997

Before embarking on an important journey you usually make plans, set goals and provide for your belongings, pets or family members left behind. The people organizing the Journey Home, a comfort care facility for the terminally ill, view death the same way — a final journey home.

The first of this type of home opened twelve years ago. Now, with Journey Home, there will soon be seven in the metro Rochester, New York, area, with another two in surrounding counties (all bearing individual names). Being service oriented, they take no position that could be construed as political. Their policy states that they will neither hasten nor postpone the natural dying process. Life is highly valued from conception to natural death.

Each home is a two-bed facility, allowing them to avoid being classified under NY state law as hospice care. Three or more beds would be subject to bureaucratic red tape.

Patients are referred by physicians, nurses and existing hospice facilities. In NY, hospice care is commonly offered as temporary assistance during the last stages of life. For example, relatives sometimes need a physical and mental break from the taxing duties of home care. Or a patient may need special attention to bring pain under control. These services are a godsend. However, many patients find themselves in need of longer term care. For example, if the spouse of a couple in their eighties were to become terminally ill, it would likely be impossible for the other to provide the necessary care. That’s where Journey Home comes in.

They accept patients who are estimated to live no longer than three months and have signed a do-not-resuscitate order. In other words, patients are not looking for any extraordinary medical treatment, simply comfort and support in a home-like environment as they complete their dying process. All services are provided free of charge.

Financial support from the community for Journey Home is as varied as the patients they plan to serve. Churches, memorials and individuals have been the primary source of income so far. However, fundraising events have ranged from a dinner theater to golf tournaments. A family donated this house and a lot that the home will be relocated to. Labor unions have agreed to provide the excavation and foundation for their new location.

They plan to have two paid staff, both nurses. It is estimated that nurses make up one-third of the 100 volunteers recruited. However, a medical background is not necessary to be involved.

Part of the preparation for opening was to educate the surrounding community, so a 30,000-piece mailing was sent. In addition to educating those receiving this mailing, half of their volunteer base was secured in addition to raising needed funds and establishing a core of financial contributors.

Volunteers will perform a myriad of tasks ranging from mowing the grass to providing medical care to patients. There are basically two levels of volunteers — patient and nonpatient related. The administrative end will be housed in the basement of the home. Nonpatient volunteers will not likely even see their guests. Those who do assist patients provide for their basic needs. Some simply keep them company by talking with or reading to them. Others help to bathe, feed and provide for other necessary needs.

The cost for this life-valued care is considerably less than comparable hospital or hospice services. The room charge alone in the local hospital is $520 per day versus a mere $68 per day in Journey Home which includes total care.

For more information contact: Journey Home, 7 Northwood Dr., Rochester, NY 14612. Phone (716) 227-8137.

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