Celebrating Life in Our Community
Like most Western nations, the United States is expected to see a significant increase in its older adult population in the coming decades. With that change in population dynamics, it’s easy to see why compassionate end-of-life care is more necessary than ever.
In Wake County, North Carolina, those caring end of life services are offered through Transitions LifeCare — a “hospice home” and community services building nestled in the middle of an idyllic sheep farm in west Raleigh. Transitions is offering comfort, peace, and hope to individuals and families, and patients of all ages.
The need is significant. The older adult population in Wake County is expected to double by 2025. In recent years, that growing need has led to major growth at Transitions LifeCare, and the John William Pope Foundation has been privileged to play an instrumental role.
“Individuals often come to us after having exhausted all of their resources due to their illness or a medical crisis or a difficult family situation,” said John Thoma, Transitions’ CEO. “We help to lift their burden, and we’re able to do so partly through gifts from generous foundations, including the Pope Foundation.”
Services are available to residents of Wake County and the surrounding counties of Durham, Franklin, Harnett, eastern Chatham, and Johnston, and the cities of Chapel Hill and Carrboro. Transitions offers both inpatient and residential care.
In 2012, Transitions served nearly 3,800 patients, including 500 individuals who qualified for its Benevolent Care Program, which provides care for patients lacking health care or financial resources.
At an average cost of $150 each day for hospice services, charity care is a needed benefit for many individuals and families. “We take a holistic approach to care,” Thoma said. “We don’t just focus on an illness — we care for the whole person, providing medical care but also emotional, spiritual, and psycho-social support.”
A new facility
In January 2010, Transitions opened its brand new William M. Dunlap Center for Caring, the first freestanding hospice facility in the county. The outlet offers 48,000 sq. ft. with rooms that open to the gardens and grounds of the facility. In its first year of operation, the center served 330 patients and nearly doubled that number the following year.
“In hospice care, we’re caring for the individual, but we’re also caring for their loved ones,” Thoma said. “In our hospice home, family members are encouraged to visit and stay with their loved one. We have comfortable accommodations to help.”
But direct care isn’t the only service Transitions is able to offer. The Transitions GriefCare program provides counseling for adults, teens, and children in both Raleigh and Dunn. Their website explains: ” The goal of our grief support groups is to provide a safe place for individuals and/or families to explore and express their grief in a manner that is comfortable and healing in nature.”
Additional support for families and individuals comes throughout the year with educational classes and caregiver support resources. The expansion of these services has provided tremendous resources for Wake County and surrounding areas, at little to no cost.
A family commitment
Support for Transitions LifeCare has long been a commitment of the Pope family. Before John William Pope passed away from advanced-stage non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2006, he expressed a desire that the Pope Foundation invest in worthwhile health care causes in the future.
As a tribute to the excellent care that Transitions provided to John William Pope and his family — and in loving memory of Mr. Pope — the foundation gave a matching grant of $1 million in 2007 to complete construction on the new inpatient facility.
Mr. Pope deeply appreciated the in-home care and hospice service, and he wanted others to have the same opportunity — to avoid the cost, pain, and suffering of a hospital stay.
Since the initial gift, the Pope Foundation has continued its financial support. “I cannot thank the Pope Foundation enough,” said Thoma. “The support has made a huge difference.”
Transitions LifeCare is an independent 501(c)3 that welcomes financial support and volunteer assistance. To learn more about the work of Transitions and how you can get involved, visit their website at www.transitionslifecare.org.
Original article published in 2012. Updated in 2016.