Hospice of the Conejo: Service to the Community Since 1977

WLW-HospiceoftheConejoServicetotheCommunityS_B248-clip_image002_thumbHospice of the Conejo was founded as a grass roots organization in 1977 by a group of dedicated and compassionate individuals who saw a need in the community for services for the terminally ill and their families. As a private, nonprofit, non-medical, community-based volunteer hospice and grief support center, our mission is to affirm life even in the face of terminal illness and grief. All services are provided at no cost. We are supported by the community we serve.

Hospice seeks out the underserved and the under-insured in order to assist them—and anyone in the community who seeks our services – and to provide some measure of comfort, relief, and dignity as they face their own death or the death of a loved one.

We do this by providing in-home, highly trained, skilled volunteers to assist those whose life-limiting illness no longer responds to cure-oriented treatment. Our grief support component, led by professional bereavement therapists, is equally strong. All are welcome and we serve all ages, genders, and income levels.

Hospice of the Conejo’s service area includes Westlake Village, Thousand Oaks, Agoura, Calabasas, and surrounding areas. In addition we frequently receive calls from other communities, including outside California, for information and referrals to service.

Hospice of the Conejo’s direct services include:

a. Hospice –Each year, more than 100 specially-trained compassionate care volunteers assist staff in providing thousands of hours of practical, non-medical assistance to the terminally ill and their families in the comfort of their own homes. Total volunteer hours for 2011 were more than 13,500 including: patient-care, public education events, administrative support, and fund-raising projects.

For the neediest:

· respite funds for 24/7 caregivers (frequently an elderly female caring for her husband),

· burial assistance funds to help with the cost of a funeral or cremation

· a lending closet of non-medical supplies – wheelchairs, walkers, nutritional supplements.

b. The No One Dies Alone (NODA) program, in partnership with Los Robles Hospital, provides specially-trained volunteers to sit at the bedside of patients who are in the last hours of life and who would otherwise probably die alone- without friends or family present.

c. Grief support – All ages are served including young parents who have lost a child in pregnancy or infancy, grieving children and teens, adults who have suffered a loss, seniors who have lost a spouse, and Spanish-speaking families who are coping with the death of a loved one.

d. We respond to urgent and unexpected community needs in the aftermath of a sudden, traumatic or violent death. We work with local schools, as requested, when a death affects students.

e. Education – Hospice provides community education through presentations and participation in health and information fairs.

Who Do We Serve?

In 2011, Hospice served approximately 4,500 people through individual and group hospice and grief support, Hospice presentations, Hospice booths at Health Fairs, Arbol de la Vida Tree Lighting, and the annual Tree Lighting, Reading of the Names ceremonies, and month-long vigil at the Oaks Shopping Center.

Through its many compassionate care programs, Hospice of the Conejo serves all in the community. For example:

· A family struggling to stay together after the accidental death of a toddler receives grief support from a Hospice therapist.

· A senior facing the devastating loss of her spouse of 56 years also has to learn how to deal with the practical aspects of life as a single individual such as shopping and cooking for one, learning how to pay bills, and pumping gas for her car.

· Two young boys who lost their father attend the Good Grief Support Group where they feel safe with other children who can identify with their struggle to make sense out of a life-changing loss. Meanwhile their mother attends a concurrent group to learn how to help her sons cope with the death of their father.

· A Spanish-speaking family who is grieving the death of a family member back in their homeland attends Padres/Compadres grief support group. They don’t have funds or time off from work to travel to the funeral and they don’t have any other family or support in their newly-adopted home.

· A Hospice Teen Mentor, who lost his father at age 5, assists with the Good Grief Support Group and acts as a role model for the children who have all lost a parent.

· A fifteen year old boy dying of cancer and his family without financial means are visited by a team of bilingual Padres/Compadres volunteers who are able to assist the family with care, information, and support.

· An 81 year old woman was diagnosed with lung cancer shortly after her husband died after being ill for three years. The same Hospice volunteer who supported the family during the husband’s illness remained with his wife until she died two years later.

· A grief support group for families of the deadly 2008 Metrolink/Chatsworth train collision met with Hospice professional counselors for more than two years. They later indicated that they could not have borne the sorrow without this ongoing support.

There are many more stories involving families who are going through the grieving process and rely on Hospice of the Conejo for support, education, guidance and practical assistance.

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Each month Community Conscience spotlights one of the 13 human services agencies who operate rent-free in our 22,000 square-foot building. Those agencies serve 50,000 people annually, and we want to share their stories. Subscribe to our newsletter to have their stories delivered to your inbox.