In 2018, Maine Cancer Foundation (MCF) partnered with the John T. Gorman Foundation to fund 6 hospice organizations in Maine. MCF is committed to supporting Mainers at every point in their cancer journey and we recognize the importance of high quality, end-of-life services for both cancer patients and their caregivers.
There are only 40 independent hospice organizations in the United States and 7 of them are located in Maine. This is not entirely surprising given Maine’s strong tradition of taking care of our friends and neighbors. The hospice community in Maine reflects our strong ties and ensures that cancer patients live as well as possible until their death.
MCF staff recently had a chance to visit with two of our hospice grantees and it was immediately clear that many of the benefits of hospice aren’t easily captured in a list or evaluation report. Flic Shooter at Hospice Volunteers of Waldo County and Jody Wolford-Tucker at Hospice of Hancock County serve as executive directors at their respective organizations. During our visit, both directors stressed the importance of the spiritual and emotional support offered via hospice services. Flic also emphasized the importance of ‘showing up and shutting up’. Hospice volunteers arrive at a patient’s home with the expectation that they will serve the individual needs of patients rather than a predetermined care plan. Both organizations are remarkable in that hospice volunteers, not paid staff, provide the majority of services to patients.
In some cases, hospice patients want someone at their bedside to listen to family memories. In other cases, clients are preoccupied with keeping their life partner cared for after they pass. In Maine, this means it is not uncommon to have hospice volunteers making sure enough wood is stacked for the winter. Hospice volunteers also serve caregivers. They make it possible for a caregiver to run essential errands without the worry of leaving a loved one alone.
After death, hospice continues to be a crucial resource for community members who have suffered a recent loss. Bereavement groups offer important support for Mainers who want to be with others who have also experienced a recent loss and need a place to process their grief.
Though hospice care is focused on end-of-life care, we left both Hospice Volunteers of Waldo County and Hospice of Hancock County with a sense of optimism and peace. Negotiating end-of-life issues is complicated and scary for both patients and those who love them. Hospice care means that many Mainers are able to stay at home, with those who love them best, in their final weeks. Maine Cancer Foundation is very proud to support the invaluable hospice work happening in our state.
In 2018, Maine Cancer Foundation, in partnership with the John T. Gorman Foundation, invested $50,000 in the following hospice organizations:
- Down East Hospice Volunteers
- Hospice Volunteers of Hancock County
- Hospice Volunteers of Somerset County
- Hospice Volunteers of Waldo County
- Hospice Volunteers of Waterville Area
- Pine Tree Hospice
To learn more about hospice care and services for cancer patients, click here.