Hospice of Santa Barbara and Visiting Nurse and Hospice Care Work Together to Make Sure that ‘No One Dies Alone’

In a unique collaboration between Hospice of Santa Barbara and Visiting Nurse and Hospice Care, the No One Dies Alone (NODA) program helps ensure that those who are dying in our community, with no family or friends nearby, have someone with them during those final hours. 

This partnership also includes local residential facilities where many of these patients reside. Trained volunteers bring comfort and compassion to those we serve in the last 48-72 hours of life, and as the name of the program indicates, ensure No One Dies Alone.

“There are situations where someone is the last surviving member in their family or lives across the country from friends and relatives,” said David Selberg, CEO of Hospice of Santa Barbara. “We want to make sure that we are there with them in their final hours and we are grateful to partner with Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care for this sacred work.”

When a person is facing their end-of-life journey, simply knowing someone is there with them can make all the difference, and provide the comfort needed to find peace. The intent is to provide a healing presence to help the patient feel he or she has not been abandoned.

“Much of the work we do at Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care is to help our patients live well even as they face end of life,” stated Lynda Tanner, President & CEO. “For nearly 111 years, our mission has been to provide compassionate and trusted care, and sometimes simply being mindfully present in support of someone facing end of life fulfills the most immediate need.”

It takes a very special person to do this work. Sharing someone’s end of life experience can be incredibly moving and powerful. Dying is a journey each one of us will take. It is a journey into the ultimate unknown. Being present and being a part of a person’s journey is sacred work.

The heart of this work is about being rather than doing – about compassionate presence and heartfelt intention rather than fixing or solving issues for others. To be a calming presence and truly compassionate with another requires a large degree of personal and spiritual maturity, as well as a capacity for reflection on one’s lived experience.

Volunteers may simply choose to sit in silence with the patient, letting them know they are there from time to time with voice and/or touch. They may do simple things like placing a cool cloth on the patient’s forehead, using swabs if the patient’s lips seem dry or chapped, holding the hand or arm as a loving presence.

Less “identifiable “music, played softly, can calm and soothe, and may help a dying person let go of pain and unbind from the ties of this world. Silence can be just as important as sound, however. There can be great value in holding silence, especially in the presence of the dying, whose journey is to leave this world of talk and noise.

Current NODA work takes place in personal homes as well as these locations: Sarah House, The Californian, Serenity House, Alexander Gardens & Villa Alamar, Heritage House, Buena Vista Care Center, Samarkand, and Alto Lucero.

Those who are interested in volunteering for NODA can go online at www.hospiceofsantabarbara.org or call the Hospice of Santa Barbara offices at (805) 563-8820. All volunteers go through a rigorous training process.

Hospice of Santa Barbara provides professional counseling, support groups, and patient care services free of charge to individuals and families who are grieving the death of a loved one or experiencing the impact of a life-threatening illness. Hospice of Santa Barbara also provides counseling in our offices and on twelve local junior and high school campuses to children and teens who are grieving a loss. For more information about Hospice of Santa Barbara, including volunteer opportunities, call (805) 563-8820 or visit www.hospiceofsantabarbara.org.

Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care (VNHC) is the leading nonprofit provider of comprehensive home health care, personal care, palliative care, hospice care, and related services necessary to promote the health and well-being of all community residents. VNHC is accredited by The Joint Commission in Home Health and Hospice Care and recognized as a “Champion of Healthcare” and a “Best Place to Work” by the Pacific Coast Business Times. Established in 1908, VNHC is one Santa Barbara’s oldest nonprofit healthcare organizations serving the greater Santa Barbara area, and Santa Ynez and Lompoc Valleys. VNHC’s mission is to provide compassionate and trusted care. For more information, visit www.vnhcsb.org or call (805) 965-5555.

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