Mission House offers families time together
One of the many meaningful things about hospice care is that it is typically provided in the home, where people can live out their lives in a comfortable, familiar setting, surrounded by loved ones. But for some patients, staying at home is simply not an option.
When we opened our new hospice house in October 2015, our goal was to expand end-of-life options in the San Mateo County area. Mission House is a place for people in the last weeks of life who need intensive, round-the-clock care that cannot be provided at home. With just 10 bedrooms, Mission House offers a peaceful, homelike environment for people who might otherwise be in the hospital. Our focus at Mission House is on the whole family.
In the past year, our hospice house has become an integral part of the services offered by Mission Hospice & Home Care. We are honored to have already cared for more than 100 people – and their families.
Here are a few of their stories.
At 95, Eddie was suffering from end-stage cancer and bouts of delirium. After his final hospitalization, it became too difficult for his wife Jean to care for him at home, and they could not afford round-the-clock caregivers.
Once Eddie was at Mission House, our professional staff monitored his medications carefully to be sure that he was safe, comfortable, and present for his wife and family. They visited frequently; Jean often slept in a rollaway bed beside him.
After a volunteer hairdresser gave him a haircut, Eddie pronounced himself so handsome that his wife would have to worry that he’d be attractive to other women. On the couple’s 49th wedding anniversary, the Mission House team gathered with cake and cider. Eddie sang love songs to his wife, and the staff created a photograph album for Jean to keep. Weeks after his admission to Mission House, Eddie passed away, peacefully, his wife at his side.
Robin was a well-educated 51-year old woman with kidney failure. After eight years of self-dialysis, the treatment became less effective, and Robin felt she had no quality of life. She made the decision to discontinue dialysis, and was admitted to Mission House.
Recognizing Robin’s emotional anguish, the Mission House staff and volunteers spent hours listening to her stories, offering companionship and affection. Our caregivers prepared her favorite meals (her first request: pepperoni pizza). A nurse arranged a Valentine’s Day dinner for Robin, and coaxed her into dancing – something she had not done for years.
As her organs inevitably failed, she needed more pain medication, and became less responsive. Having helped ease her physical and emotional pain, the staff and volunteers at Mission House accompanied Robin until her last breath.
A lifelong bachelor, Barry, 60, lived alone in Belmont. His older siblings cared for him until the symptoms of his end-stage cancer became too much for them to manage.
Once he was admitted to Mission House, his family gathered at the house every day to be with their baby brother. On St. Patrick’s Day, the family brought in corned beef and all the trimmings; the Mission House cook prepared the meal, which Barry and his family shared with staff and volunteers.
When Barry needed rest, he would send his family out of his room so he could sleep. They spent time together as a family in the living room, dining room, and garden of the house, knowing that Barry was in good hands.
After Barry’s death, his family expressed their enormous gratitude – not only for the compassion and care Barry received, but also for the welcoming, warm environment of the house, which allowed them to retain their sense of family.