The End of Life Gift Which Gives Back

There are songs, poems, paintings and plays which bring about images of love, angels and Heaven. These beautiful works of art come from the imaginations and talents of people who see the darkness of the world and hope to open a window and let in the light. But it is not from song lyrics and brush strokes that change the world from dark to light; it is the passion of those willing to open any window to the world which accomplishes such a feat. These people are rare; through the ages performing great works of compassion to benefit others while creating a lasting impression on everyone who is touched by their creations. One such open window in Tulsa is Clarehouse.

Kelley Scott opened this window 15 years ago after realizing how loved ones are often faced with almost overwhelming issues while caring for a dying relative. She is the founder and Executive Director for Clarehouse. Although it was a difficult one to open, she knew that this was something that had to be done. Working as a hospital and Hospice nurse, she would see for herself the difficulties for the loved ones and knew that there had to be a way to help them. She initiated the idea for a community home for terminally ill people that offers care to Hospice patients who are in their last days and weeks of life and not receiving enough caregiver support to remain in their own homes.

“Most people want to die at home, but that is very challenging for a lot of different reasons. We provide a solution to those issues,” Scott said. She explained that there are a plethora of social/financial reasons that make it difficult for people to care for their loved ones in the final days of life. This is where Clarehouse is an option. It is generally for the last month of life and is available to anyone enrolled in a Medical Hospice program.

“We consider ourselves as an extension of the family and fill that void as the 24-7 caregiver in the last weeks of life as well as provide the place for them to live,” Scott said. She added that they are not just another hospice provider in an environment where there are many already. She explained they are unique in the sense they fill the gap left by hospice care and do so in a non-clinical non institutional way. Clarehouse offers the opportunity for the dying to spend their final days in a beautiful and loving environment that is like home when they simply cannot be at home.

The facility is staffed with personnel who help with bathing, toileting, medication, feeding, laundry and other daily needs. Most of these are volunteers. There are 250 of them who donate their time to give to others. But it is not just basic needs that the volunteers provide. Many of them donate time to be bedside companions while others are musicians who provide music. There is also a choir that comes out, pet owners who provide pet therapy as well as many others who provide services such as reading, massage therapy, and spiritual support.

“I realized I was there for as much, if not more, for the staff and the family members as I was for the guests. They are the ones who are left behind and for the staff of course, who is under an incredible amount of stress all the time. For the dogs to come in, it’s really a welcome relief and a sense of living and loving with the dogs,” Julie Mueller said. She provides pet therapy and has been doing so for over four years.

“We do not charge a dime. We are a completely free community-based philanthropy driven service. No one that comes here and receives care is charged a dime,” Scott said. This aspect of caregiving is only one of many that make Clarehouse so unique. This organization is not profit driven; it is passion driven. Through fundraising, the organization raises the $1.3 million that is needed to operate each year. “It’s a total community effort to keep us funded,” she added. For more information about Clarehouse, visit clarehouse.org.