Written by Laura Roe Stevens | Photographed by Vincent Rios
Quality care at the end of life addresses more than a person’s physical
comfort and daily care. It should also provide for emotional and spiritual
needs by “creating a calm environment and removing distractions
that can improve mood, evoke memories and help the person relax,”
according to the Mayo Clinic.
That’s where Torrance-based Caring House—a nonmedical, end-of-life
care house in Los Angeles—excels. “Caring House is an invaluable
community asset,” says Sally Eberhard, senior vice president of
planning and development at Torrance Memorial Medical Center. “I’ve
seen how Caring House really meets the needs of people at the end of life
and their families, who need more support.”
Ed Long, cofounder and president of the organization, says people often
confuse Caring House with hospice. While hospice is a visit- ing service
providing medical care, Caring House provides a safe and comfortable “home-away-from-home”
and nonmedical care, 24 hours a day. “We are all about peace and
dignity at the end of life,” says Long. “We didn’t realize
it when we started, but the benefits of what we do stick with families
for the rest of their lives.”
For example, Long says one resident chose to live at Caring House because
the dying father didn’t want to burden his wife with caring for
him, nor did he want his two young children to have memories of him dying
in their home. “It was a beautiful time. The children came over
after school every day, visiting their dad and doing their homework—one
day even baking cupcakes with us in our kitchen. It was a loving time
for the whole family here,” Long shares.
There are many reasons why someone might opt to live their last weeks or
days at Caring House. Perhaps a person’s home is not safe to navigate.
Some people prefer not to hire or cannot afford visiting home care, or
prefer not to have strangers in their home. Family members can become
exhausted providing or supervising care. Others don’t want to burden
family members who may have illnesses of their own.
Whatever the reason, most people immediately feel at ease within its clean,
homey atmosphere, says Long. Caring House’s mission is to provide
“a loving home for the last stage.” Caregivers do not wear
uniforms, for instance, and the home has five private bedrooms for up
to five residents at a time.
For their medical care, residents choose a Medicare-certified hospice service.
Each resident’s chosen hospice team will visit them at Caring House
to provide symptom and pain management and other medical services.
Stress, anxiety and fear don’t have to dominate a family when their
loved one receives a terminal diagnosis. Caring House can help them find
peace, ease their burdens and give them the ability to focus on spending
precious quality time together.