Nanette Stevenson knew she needed to be an advocate for her husband,
Oliver, during the year he lived in a memory care facility. But her mind was
put at ease after the couple, who had been married for 44 years, settled in
at Evelyn’s House.
“He was in loving arms,” she says about the hospice home,
where her husband passed away on March 30, 2018. “I had
never seen care like that in my life. In addition to helping him
be as pain free as possible, they honored him and took care
of his whole body.”
However, Nanette says she hadn’t been quite sure what to
expect when they first arrived at the facility and was worried
that she might need to continue her vigilance.
Nanette's initial concern wasn’t that unusual for a family member
who had been a caregiver for a loved one, says Katie Karr, one
of the nurses on Oliver’s treatment team.
“Family members may come in feeling very guarded, but within
24 hours, you can see that change,” Katie says. She explains
that it can be difficult for caregivers to feel it is safe to let go of
responsibility when they have become so accustomed to making
sure the patient gets the right medication and proper attention.
“We’re here to do all of that,” says Katie. “It allows them to be
the loving family members they need to be.”
Indeed, Evelyn’s House provides a holistic approach to the
emotional, spiritual and physical care of both terminally ill
patients and their families. Designed to look like a home,
rather than a medical facility, Evelyn’s House is a unique space
that offers warmth, beauty and tranquility at a time when they
are most needed.
In the case of the Stevenson family, Nanette says the staff
at Evelyn’s House watched over her and her daughter, Rose,
providing comfort and helping them find peace.
“I felt everyone had complete empathy, not just for my husband,
but for me and my daughter,” she says.
It is that holistic approach that drew Katie, who has been a nurse
for about 35 years, to Evelyn’s House. She joined the facility
when it opened in 2017 after working in the home hospice field
for five years.
She finds practicing in hospice to be very rewarding because
it is the area in which she feels she can help patients and their
families the most. Katie says that while many health care practices
can feel very rushed, everything slows down in hospice. It’s a
period when professionals can help patients and their families
figure out where they are in their journey and if the timing is
right for hospice.
“You have to think about the quality of life and hospice is a form
of living,” Katie says. “You are giving them a choice to have a
good journey. I just want patients and their families to experience
a good, peaceful end.”
And that’s exactly what Evelyn’s House provided the Stevenson
family, says Nanette.
“The nurses are a very special type of people. It’s something
they do from the heart,” she says, adding that the Evelyn’s House
team was able to bring beauty and spirituality to this very sad
time. “Oliver died with dignity and that’s all I wanted.”