Tidewell Hospice unveils the first of three new bereavement centers
Florida-based Tidewell Hospice recently opened a new bereavement center in its home state. Although plans for the remodeling of the former Ellenton Hospice have been at length prepared, a growing need for community bereavement support during the pandemic has helped advance construction of the redeveloped space, now the Tidewell Family. Grief Center.
Through the center, Tidewell Hospice will provide one-on-one counseling sessions, group therapy and educational resources to families in Manatee and Sarasota Counties in Florida who are experiencing the loss of a loved one, whether or not the deceased is a patient. .
Tidewell Hospice is owned by parent company Empath Health, which merged with Stratum Health in February 2019, joining forces to provide a full continuum of home and community care. According to Callie Weber, operational director of adult bereavement services at Tidewell Hospice, creating a dedicated bereavement support center has been a multi-year effort.
“We feel like grieving really needs a spotlight in terms of the attention it receives. It’s a need that not only our hospice families have, but also our community through various losses, ”Weber said. “We felt that by having centers where people had a place of healing to feel understood and supported in their journey of grief. We have always provided free bereavement support for our families and for the community, but this is a space specially designed for the bereaved.
Services at the center, located in Ellenton, Florida, will be provided free of charge to families and caregivers, funded in part by the hospice’s philanthropic arm. The renovations to the 4,000 square foot facility were funded by a $ 1.1 million grant from the Tidewell Foundation.
Tidewell Hospice serves patients in four counties of Charlotte, DeSoto, Manatee and Sarasota in Florida. The hospice provides bereavement services to more than 8,000 people each year, seeing an increase in demand for bereavement support as the COVID-19 pandemic swept the country.
The deadly virus has killed more than 691,500 people across the country, according to recent data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The pandemic was part of the momentum to move forward in the center, with Florida among the regions hardest hit by the virus. More than 53,500 lives have been lost to COVID-19 in the Sunshine State since the outbreak began, according to a recent report from the Florida Health Department.
“The need for a grief-focused center has always been there, but with COVID-19 it has forced an additional component of grief and loss into our world,” Weber said. “We had a slight increase in our bereavement support referrals, and they were often more complicated during the pandemic with loved ones unable to be with or see the person when they die. Ultimately, this has complicated mourning, causes private mourning, and has people who carry a lot of shame, guilt, and harsh feelings around the loss from COVID. “
Before launching the center, the hospice provider assessed where the demand for bereavement care was increasing, recognizing a “very high demand in the community” for bereavement support for children, according to Weber. Bereavement Center extends TideWell Hospice’s children’s bereavement services, called Blue Butterfly, which provide support to youth ages 5-18 who have experienced the loss of a parent, sibling or other person .
The facility includes outdoor spaces such as a basketball court, butterfly gardens, a pond and a maze. These areas are designed for activities for adults and children, including Tai Chi classes, yoga, and meditation, among others. Inside you will find chat and coffee rooms, as well as areas for group and individual therapy.
The main features of the building created a space for interactivity and artistic expression as a varied and holistic approach to bereavement support programs, according to Ken Kinzie, vice president of education and bereavement support services at Tidewell Hospice.
The bereavement center is the first of three ongoing, according to Kinzie, who told Hospice News that Tidewell Hospice plans to open bereavement centers in each of its four-county service areas in a growing effort to expand support community in mourning. That effort includes extending bereavement support to staff suffering heavy losses during the pandemic, Kinzie said. In addition to a different approach and model of community support with the center, COVID-19 support groups for staff have also recently been set up.
The center currently offers virtual programming and one-on-one services, hoping to expand with group and in-person therapy by November if it can safely resume, according to Kinzie.
“It’s educating the community that grief and loss is very different from what people think,” Kinzie told Hospice News. “We have seen a huge impact of COVID in and around our community, and we provide a lot of staff support not only for our own organization, but for other healthcare workers. Our healthcare partners asked if we can help their staff due to burnout and compassion fatigue as they see more patients dying and more families losing loved ones.