There was a gentleman who lived in an assisted living facility. He was quiet and fiercely independent. When it became obvious he could no longer care for himself, his neighbors rallied together, came up with a schedule and became his in-home help. They bought groceries, prepared meals, and helped him to dress and undress each day.
His daughter, who lived out of state, was worried about him. She knew he was declining, but being so far away she was unable to see for herself.
Hospice received a telephone call and, through many subsequent phone conversations, it became clear he could no longer manage at home. Serenity House was offered as an option. Of course an independent man would not hear of a 24-hour-care facility for himself. Home was where he was and where he wanted to stay. In reviewing options with the hospice medical social worker, the daughter decided Serenity House was the best place for her father. She asked him to please try it.
A neighbor, who brought him, was very nervous for the gentleman. This was a big change. The Serenity House staff worked hard to meet his needs and to make him comfortable. We kept his room dark as he requested. We spoke quietly. Over the next 24 hours we got to know him better and allowed him to be as independent as possible.
The next day he picked up the phone and called his daughter. His words to her were “Thank you for doing what you did. These people are angels.” She shared this story with me when I made the call to let her know her father had died peacefully.
All this took place at the old Serenity House. I told her we were moving to our new Serenity House in a couple of days. She said she would be out to pick up her father’s belongings before we moved.
Monday, was the last day at the old house. All the patients had been transferred and only two of us remained, gathering a few items. The daughter arrived. We spent time talking about her dad, and about his time at Serenity House.
Again, she expressed her relief and gratitude – relief that we were able to provide him with loving care and gratitude to be able to hear in his voice that he was comfortable and pain free in his final days. She said he was afraid to die in pain, and Serenity House took his pain away.
To me this is what Serenity House is all about. We are able to help families in times of crisis, and establish relationships no matter the physical distance.
To be there for a patient and to be there for a family member is what is so meaningful.
I know in my soul that the heart of Serenity House has moved on to the new House and that no matter what size or shape the building, the heart beats on.
Nonprofit since 1908, Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care provides high quality, comprehensive home health, hospice and related services necessary to promote the health and well-being of all community residents, including those unable to pay. Serving all of Santa Barbara including Santa Ynez and Lompoc Valleys. For more information, call (805) 965-5555 or visit www.vnhcsb.org.