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Services expanded

Trillium House now offering short-term respite stays for non-hospice patients

A resident room at the Trillium House is pictured. The Trillium House, which opened in summer 2018, is a nonprofit hospice house aiming to provide hospice patients with a comfortable, homelike setting for their hospice journey. Based on room availability and community requests, the hospice home recently began offering short-term respite care stays to non-hospice patients. (Journal file photo)

MARQUETTE — Providing care to a loved one who is suffering from a chronic illness or recovering from a surgery can be a full-time job.

To help offer respite for more caregivers in the area, Marquette’s Trillium House recently expanded the scope of its respite program, allowing the local hospice house to accommodate non-hospice patients for several days in its homelike environment.

This stems from a need for the service expressed by the community, as many families of patients who are not receiving hospice called the hospice house and expressed a desire to get their loved one into its short-term respite care, said Trillium House Board President Dr. Aaron Scholnik and Trillium House Executive Director Pat Bray,

However, at the time, Trillium House could only accept residents who were formally enrolled in a hospice program and needed a safe, comfortable place to live and receive hospice care, they said.

“Even before we were open, we had families calling us who were in that situation and you could just tell they were struggling with exactly what the people who are caring for a loved one in hospice are,” Bray said in an interview. “It was just hard to be able to say to them ‘I’m sorry, we can’t help you.’ So when we went through a year and saw what our situation was, we had 1 to 2 rooms available quite often. It was nice that the board took that on and said ‘Our mission is going to stay the same, but if we can help somebody out who’s in a very similar situation, we need to do that.'”

Due to the need expressed by area residents, the Trillium House’s Board of Directors decided to “follow the lead” of Trillium’s sister hospice house, the Houghton-based Omega House and make itself available for non-hospice guests for stays of three to seven days, Bray said.

“Omega House started a respite program like this about two years ago. It’s been very well received there. It just makes sense to use this welcoming home the best we can,” Bray said in a press release. “This new option is for families who have decided that hospice isn’t an option yet, but they struggle with the exact same challenges.”

While the hospice house opened up around a year ago with the goal of serving hospice patients and has served over 40 since opening, Bray and Scholnik said offering respite stays for non-hospice residents when possible is important for the community.

“We have to learn to adapt to that and try to meet the needs of the community as well as the call of our mission, which is to provide a home away from home for hospice patients,” Scholnik said.

Those in hospice are prioritized for admission, he said, which means respite stays will be accepted only as room are available. Furthermore, Bray said, by limiting respite stays to a seven-day maximum, it’s “highly unlikely any hospice patient would end up having to wait to live at Trillium.”

The Trillium House, an eight-room hospice house located at 1144 Northland Drive in Marquette, is pictured. The hospice home recently opened its short-term respite care program to non-hospice patients due to needs expressed by the community. (Journal file photo)

Bray has shared this decision and new development with multiple home health agencies, as well as UP Health System staff, he said, noting it “received a highly positive response,” as “the need for more options for these families is a real one in the area.”

“We work so closely with the medical hospice providers and hospital we have a really good idea of the day a new resident will come to live with us. We’ll provide respite care when we’re confident we’ll have a room available for that stay,” Bray said in a press release.

The hospice house’s staff includes care aides and volunteers who provide meals, assistance with medications, personal daily care, as well as “peace of mind” for its residents, officials said. Hospice care is delivered to Trillium House residents by their own hospice provider.

The nonprofit hospice house and licensed adult foster care facility depends on the contributions of many for its operations, Scholnik said.

“We’re really grateful for the enthusiastic generosity of people in the community who are continuing their financial support and personal support of Trillium House by funding the Trillium care fund, which helps us to continue to operate the house,” Scholnik said.

For those interested in a non-hospice respite stay for a loved one, Bray recommends calling the Trillium House at 906-264-5026 as far in advance of the requested stay as possible to learn more about the process.

“If it’s even something you might consider, call us and we can talk through if it makes sense and what all the details are,” Bray said.

Respite stays for non-hospice guests will be at the organization’s daily care fee of $260.

For those wondering about insurance coverage of the daily stay fee, Scholnik recommends asking their insurance provider about coverage of respite care in adult foster care facility.

Trillium House is a licensed adult foster care home located at 1144 Northland Drive in Marquette. To learn more about its services, programming and how to help support the hospice house, visit www.trilliumhospicehouse.org.

Cecilia Brown can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 248.