Jessica's House

The Vision

Jessica’s House has a very special meaning for the South Huron community, named in honour of 22-year-old Jessica Hamather who lost her life in 2015 to an extremely rare cancer. Maria Hamather, Co-Chair of the Steering Committee believes that this community hospice is an important goal for South Huron. “Our family fully supports the plans to create a beautiful residential hospice in South Huron, providing much needed support for families during a difficult time. We are proud to work on this project with the South Huron Hospital Foundation and we know Jessica would have loved this wonderful and peaceful space. We are thankful to the Bean Family for this generous commitment to make Jessica’s House a reality, and to our amazing community for all of its support”.

Jessica’s House will act as the heart of palliative support services including both current programs and an expanded set of services such as: Day Wellness programs for individuals diagnosed with life threatening illnesses, a Bereavement Support program, Horticultural Therapy Sessions, a Men’s Prostate Cancer Support group, a Suicide Support group, and a Children’s Bereavement Support program. Patients and their families will come to the hospice for the compassionate, medical, and emotional care that they need at the end-of-life.

Access to residential hospice beds is an issue in Huron County as identified by the SW LHIN. Although most people would prefer to die at home, most die in hospital. Aside from the compassionate aspect of this, caring for terminally ill patients in an acute-care hospital is estimated to cost over 40% more than providing care in a hospital-based palliative-care unit. This is more than double the cost of providing care in a hospice bed and over 10 times more than providing at-home care. 

(Source: Bonnie Lysyk, Auditor General, December 9, 2014) more

Jessica’s House, our local, residential hospice, will be a cheerful, bright, beautiful, welcoming “home away from home” for every single person who wishes to come, regardless of age, gender-identity, economic status, race or religion. Jessica’s House will open its doors wide to offer solace and comfort while abating fear. This community hospice will provide a sanctuary for those facing end of life and it will offer dignified support to their family and friends, from the time of diagnosis until their journey’s end and beyond. Trust and respect, dignity and compassion will be the hallmarks of the services provided. While respecting each individual patient’s desires, Jessica’s House will be seen as the “go to” place from the time of diagnosis to beyond allowing families to “step in” to the continuum of services at whichever point in their journey is right for them. Built by the community to serve all those in need, Jessica’s House will exemplify what is best about our human nature to demonstrate compassion, empathy and joy. Not all families will choose to access all or any of the services that Jessica’s House will provide; however, there will be comfort in knowing that “she” is there if you need “her”. In short, Jessica’s will provide people with a choice. 

Like for the young woman whose name the hospice bears, families will be extremely important. Families of every size, shape and configuration will be welcome. Family members may stay overnight with their loved one and even bring the family pet in for visits. When a patient enters the hospice, it allows their family to hand over all the intricate details associated with pain and symptom management and simply go back to being a husband or wife, a daughter or son, a sister or brother. At Jessica’s House, families will have the opportunity to spend time together in a beautiful natural setting. Watching the sun rise and set, hearing the birds sing, and seeing the blue sky, family members will connect and reconnect while being reminded of how important they are. Situated in nature, families will find peace and tranquility while spending quality time with their loved ones. 

Upon arrival at Jessica’s House, you will be greeted in the beautiful lobby by a volunteer receptionist who will answer your questions and make you feel at home. Three beautifully appointed bedrooms with ensuites, a lovely fireplace and big-windowed family room with adjoining kitchen facilities create the space families require in difficult times. Cognitive of privacy and noise (ie., accessing linens through private closets that can be entered from the bedroom and from the hallway as well without disrupting family), avoiding the “look” of a medical facility (i.e. medical equipment stored in bedroom “cupboards” to be accessed when needed but not seen), and creating a home environment will be of paramount importance. Attention to the need to blend in with nature, both architecturally and environmentally will be important priorities. Like a welcoming cottage in the woods, people will truly enjoy the comforts of this lovely place. 

Jessica’s house will represent the very best models of teamwork. From goal-setting to fund-raising, reception to gardening, cooking to repairs, bereavement support to day wellness programs, volunteers will work alongside the paid employees including cleaning staff, personal support workers, emotional-psychosocial staff support and on-call registered nurses. Of course, physician expertise will also be continuously available. Through our partnerships with the South Huron Hospital, and potentially hospice support beyond our community, we will seek economies of scale with respect to administration, governance, purchasing, and staffing. Together the team will represent what is powerful and good about working as a team.