Death. It can be an uncomfortable topic in long-term care, but new innovations are enhancing how senior living providers cater to residents at the end of life.
One nonprofit continuing care retirement community (CCRC) in Norridge, Ill. offers the Chrysalis Room, a dedicated space to celebrate and honor the end-of-life experience. Created in collaboration with Loretta Downs, founder of Chrysalis End-of-Life Inspirations, and a team of designers in 2013, the Chrysalis Room provides a sacred and functional space for families to be able to hold vigil, explains Dawn Mondschein, administrator at Central Baptist Village (CB Village).
The name, Chrysalis, refers to the stage in which a caterpillar transforms into a butterfly.
“Some long-term care organizations don’t seem to feel end of life is within their realm of responsibility,” Mondschein says. “It’s being empowered and bold enough to step up and embrace the idea and confront it head on.”
The alternative for many residents of long-term care is to wind up in a hospital, often undergoing painful and unnecessary procedures and tests in their final hours, she says. By providing the Chrysalis Room, CB Village says it has fewer residents transferred to a hospital for end-of-life care.
“CB Village helps prepare residents and families for difficult end-of-life decisions and care options well in advance,” Mondschein says. “They discuss the Chrysalis Room as a compassionate alternative offering strong emotional support, palliative care and clinical expertise, right here in the resident’s ‘home.’”
Last year, the Chrysalis Room earned CB Village a Mather Lifeways Institute on Aging Promising Practices Award, which recognizes innovations in the aging services industry. Mather Lifeways is an Evanston, Ill.-based nonprofit that creates programs, places and residences for the area’s aging population.