Places similar to residential end-of-life facilities are common in neighboring states, but are they common in North Dakota?

In the pandemic, nursing homes and hospice care have enforced many restrictions. One North Dakota woman is making it her mission to get laws changed for people seeking their final home away from home.

The final days of someone’s life are meant to be lived with dignity and oftentimes, patients don’t want to put their loved ones in a caregiver position.

That’s where Gaia Home comes in.

Kilee Harmon with the Rockstad Foundation says, “Gaia Home will be a residential end of life facility in which individuals can move in to, receive hospice services from a third party licensed hospice
provider of their choosing.”

Gaia Home is an alternate option for people terminally ill, who need 24-hour assistance, or have no immediate family to care for them; different than a nursing home or long-term care facility.

Harmon says, “Gaia Home would be a true home away from home experience.”

It would be a community of 12 twin homes that families can move into and receive end-of-life supportive care.

According to Julie Schwab with Health Tech Solutions, there are gaps in the continuum of care, which she says residential end-of-life facilities, like Gaia, can fill. Such as freeing family members from seeing their loved ones die in their homes.

Schwab says, “There’s something about that that might cause some anxiety and cause some long-standing issues for them that now they’re going back to the home where a loved one passed away.”

She says making changes to the current version of Senate Bill 2226, people outside of hospice service areas can move into places like Gaia Home and receive the care they need.

Schwab adds, “There are different options for different people and this is another option that’s available, another choice for people at the end of life and I think the more choices we can offer people at the end of life the better it is.”

Schwab says both of her parents were lucky enough to receive in-home hospice care, but not everyone has that luxury.

She explains, “To be able to have a home like this provided within a community allows people who don’t live within a service area to be able to come into the service area, move into that home during the time they’re needing hospice and to be able to experience that hospice service at the end of life.”

Schwab said the bill passed the Senate 46 to 1 and should be on its way to the House floor for a vote by March.

she says if there happens to be another pandemic, Gaia Home would not separate families since they’d be in a pod together already and family members won’t have to die alone.