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The Joan Nicole Prince Home- A Comfort Care Residence

Posted on: 2013 09 28

Many thank to Karen McGann for writing this informative piece on an important place, the Joan Ncole Prince Home. The Joan Nicole Prince Home – A Comfort Care Residence What is a Comfort Care Residence? By definition, it is a residential care option for the terminally ill which operates according to a specific model. Each home cares for two residents at a time, providing comfort and palliative care in a holistic, non medical setting. With the help of volunteers and qualified staff, care is provided at no cost to residents or their families. A Hospice agency provides services and care through nursing, social work, chaplain and aide visits. Each comfort care home acts independently, choosing from a list of referred patients based on their own assessment of who has the greatest need and the least options for care. The Joan Nicole Prince Home is just such a residence. Located in the village of Scotia, it provides 24- hour care to terminally ill residents who are unable to stay in their homes. A loving and compassionate team of staff and trained volunteers, who act as surrogate family to residents and their loved ones, provide shelter, food, and end of life care, free of charge, in a beautiful, serene and safe home. Established in 2006 as a legacy to a Niskayuna native and mother of four who lost a courageous battle with breast cancer, the Home provides a unique atmosphere where residents and their families and loved ones, free of the formidable challenges of end of life care, can maintain their bonds and experience the special closeness that is so important during this momentous time. Just as importantly, it provides a strong sense of being in community, and the sense that residents, families and loved ones are never alone. There will always be someone there to support you, deal with issues, grieve, loss, celebrate life and revel in the miracle of the human experience together. In 2011, in order to enhance our primary mission of providing the best possible care for the terminally ill, the Home expanded its’ efforts to increase knowledge, skills and awareness in the community surrounding end of life issues, especially those pertaining to palliative and comfort care. Through the diligent efforts of our Board of Directors, our Executive Director, Susan Tomlinson and the staff, in partnering with local agencies, educational institutions, and corporations, we established a program entitled “Cultivating a Community of Compassionate Caregivers” .The program focuses on the following goals. 1. Providing JNP staff and volunteers and other health care providers either practicing or in training, specific educational programs to enhance their knowledge and skills in the area of end of life issues. 2. Offering opportunities for education and support to those in the community caring for family or loved ones at home. 3. Providing increased awareness in the community at large regarding both general and specific end of life issues. The following journal entry of a future health care professional who received training developed by our staff for all volunteers, illustrates a powerful example of how this endeavor is already manifesting itself in providing the best possible care for the terminally ill through education and training, “I often find myself wondering just how much of an impact I can have on the lives of others. Who am I? Among other things I am a daughter, a friend, a college student, and a volunteer. However, while at the Joan Nicole Prince Home, I discovered that I could also define myself as something more: a compassionate caregiver. As I neared the end of my shift, I was standing in the kitchen filled with a diverse group of people. The two elderly residents both had their families visiting, and after retrieving a few extra chairs from around the house, they all managed to sit together at the table, it amazed me that they chose to do this, rather than convening in the residents’ private rooms. The scene was uplifting, with members of multiple generations from completely different families interacting together in harmony. There was singing, laughter, and peace. Even after a long day of providing daily care, cooking and giving medication, I had no desire to leave. Feeling this complete comfort and understanding struck me as something special. It did not matter that there were different races, ages, religious beliefs or health statuses. The focus was on the residents themselves and their families, not the medications, the diagnoses or any of the difficulties that come with end of life care…. Upon reflection, I realized that this experience is allowing me to take on a new role as a caregiver. I am learning how to provide for patient’s medical needs while treating them with respect, dignity, and compassion. I believe that this newly discovered ability will be invaluable to my future as a health care professional. Witnessing the profound impact that care givers of any kind can have on their patients and their families has shown me that sometimes it is not the medicine you provide but the compassion you show that can make the positive difference for patients. Research on comfort care models show that the terminally ill experience less physical and emotional stress and live longer with a better quality of life than those who experience a medical treatment focused model, and that families experience less anxiety, depression and complicated grief surrounding the death of their loved ones. What the research does not illustrate, but is illustrated above, are the benefits to the community as a whole derived from this model. In order for efforts like comfort care homes to be sustained, the community in which it operates must commit to a collective responsibility to maintain the community together, to make each ones needs everyone’s needs and to meet those needs together….. that helps us all in myriad ways. Karen McGann is a volunteer with the Joan Nicole Prince Home. She served as a resident care volunteer since November of 2008 and as Board Member since 2009. She served as Board President from 2010-2011 and currently focuses her energies on fundraising and public relations for the Home. She can be reached at volcoorjnp@nycap.rr.com .

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