By: Nancy Cook-Monroe
Abode Contemplative Care for the Dying, a non-medical home for individuals at the end of life in San Antonio, will host the Omega Home Network’s annual conference June 24-26 at the San Antonio Marriott Rivercenter Hotel. The Omega Home Network (OHN) is a national membership organization that promotes the development of community homes for dying people who otherwise would lack care.
OHN’s members represent 26 such homes throughout the United States, with 30 more in planning stages. Several factors are driving their growth: Families today are far-flung, therefore people in their final months and weeks of life are often alone and unable to care for themselves. While insurance pays for the hospice benefit, this benefit does not include housing. Increasingly, even with the hospice benefit paying for care, individuals do not have a place to live or someone to care for them at end-of-life.
The dynamic will accelerate as 10,000 Baby Boomers a day are turning 65. With diminishing geriatric training nationwide, the healthcare system and social services are unprepared to care for elders as they eventually enter their final phase of life.
Homes offering compassionate care also reflect a growing shift in attitude about death, choosing quality of life as it wanes over medical attempts to prolong it.
The conference keynote speaker is Frank Ostaseski, a pioneer in end-of-life care and author of the top-selling book “The Five Invitations: Discovering What Death Can Teach Us About Living Fully.” He was co-founder in 1987 of the Zen Hospice Project, the first Buddhist hospice in America. Oprah Winfrey has featured him and Bill Moyers included his work in his PBS series “On Our Own Terms.” In 2001 the Dalai Lama honored Ostaseski for his years of compassionate service.
Tickets to the conference ($150-$250) and individual tickets for Ostaseski’s presentation ($45) are available at abodehome.org/events#.
Conference topics cover a gamut of homes’ needs from mindfulness to risk management, building compassion to crisis communication, the art of challenging conversations to fundraising. Particularly timely, and relevant in San Antonio with its large military and Hispanic populations, is “The Impact of Military Culture on Veterans’ End of Life Journeys” as well as one on issues of diversity and inclusion.
The conference theme, “Can You Hear the Flowers? Planting the Seeds of Awareness,” refers to a guest at Abode who, in her final moments, asked if those caring for her could hear the flowers. The conference also will explore how homes in this developing movement can best plant seeds of awareness in their communities.
The complete agenda and registration can be found at abodehome.org/events#. In whatever stages of interest or home development, all are invited to attend.
Abode Contemplative Care for the Dying was opened in 2014 by Edwin and Patsy Sasek who both had worked in the hospice world, Edwin as a chaplain. In a beautiful three-bedroom limestone home on an oak-filled lot, Abode staff and volunteers have cared for more than 200 guests. The Saseks will tell the story of how they created a community of compassion in one of the conference sessions.
Abode Hosts National Conference
By: Nancy Cook-Monroe