Learning and Growing, 2016

Our second year was our first full year, and we kept busy! With our goal being to provide a place for people to die with dignity we were suddenly faced with the question, what if someone gets better? It had been six months since Ben had walked through our doors. He had been given just weeks left to live; yet, he was now facing being discharged from hospice as he no longer qualified. This was such great news but was a lot to process for Ben. We made sure he had people to talk with and started mapping out what the future might look like. I will always be grateful to Ben, we learned a lot together. There are a lot of hurdles to face when you are suddenly on your own and I think Ben encountered the majority of them. Through it all, we kept in touch and I am so proud to say that several years later Ben has been doing great.  

This was when we began our protocol of not only providing a stay to address the acute medical condition but also the time to process that and plan for the future. It’s a delicate balance to provide enough time to complete that process and not too much time that it becomes enabling. I began to seek out advice and training in how to connect people to services once they were no longer living with us. I tried to help people learn skills that would enable them to manage their own care. How to schedule appointments and plan to follow through and actually get to the appointments. We started assisting people with Medicaid and social security applications. I quickly learned that when someone moves out on their own, they have less of a chance to succeed if they don’t continue to have the support of stable case management.  

We lost a few people in our second year that had moved out on their own. I remained in touch with them and checked in regularly. I was honored to have been able to spend time with them in their final days and receive the call when they had passed. Rick Silva passed just minutes after I left him at the hospital. After living with us for several months, he chose to leave and live in VA housing. He had only been moved out for a month or so before he wound up at his final hospital stay. His mother and I still speak regularly. 

Along with learning how to care for our residents in that second year, I was also learning how to be a working member of our community. I experienced so many firsts. I went to my first ever conference as a speaker (photo shown)! It was in Michigan and I saw my first ever firefly and I am still talking about it. I started meeting community partners and learning about all the great services available in our city. I spoke in front of city council meetings and we began a neighborhood advisory council. I once stepped in and spoke to a woman's group in a member's home when Kim was sick. As I walked out of their back room where I was leaving my coat, I missed a step, slipped and fell flat on my face. I still can’t believe that no one saw it!  

Our house grew that year and I still get the same warm feeling when I think about walking through the back door of our home and seeing someone in the kitchen making coffee. People gathered around the table eating breakfast. Our house manager Mark asking me how many eggs I’d like and catching me up on what happened after I left the night before. Walking past the garage and catching at least two people smoking. I do not think I ever saw that room empty. I started to relax a little in that second year as I felt more comfortable in my role. But I always kept my eye out for steps. 

Please consider making a donation to help celebrate our 5th Anniversary and to ensure we continue to offer our services for many years to come by clicking here

Continue reading about our friends who passed with us at The INN Between in 2016 by visiting our Obituaries page here. 

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