Caring Circle in St. Joseph, MI and Our Lady’s Hospice in Thigio, Kenya
Despite the roughly 7,800 miles between Michigan and Kenya, two hospice organizations have used video conferencing technology to foster meaningful relationships with one another. In June of 2017, Hospice at Home, Caring Circle located in St. Joseph, Michigan was partnered with Our Lady’s Hospice in Thigio, Kenya. Teams from both organizations participate in monthly Skype calls to collaborate on objectives and goals for the partnership. Despite challenges with internet and phone connections in Thigio, the teams began to build a strong relationship early in the partnership.
Through the planning that took place via teleconference, the partners determined that a trip to Kenya, consisting of an interdisciplinary team from Caring Circle, was a necessary step for the partnership. In the spring of 2018, a social worker, nurse, spiritual care and aide from Caring Circle visited Thigio. During this visit, the team had daily meetings with various staff at Our Lady’s Hospice, provided educational in-services, shadowed clinical staff on patient visits, and explored local community resources. Upon returning from Thigio, the traveling staff hosted an event to share their experience with the community in Michigan. The event included a slideshow, reception and silent auction fundraiser to further support the partnership.
Then in September, Caring Circle hosted Sr. Deborah Mallot, Director of Our Lady’s Hospice for a brief visit. During her stay, Sr. Deborah gave a presentation in the community and visited several locations of Caring Circle’s work. Her goal was to interact with the palliative care team and share insight into the partnership and daily life in Thigio.
Donations from Caring Circle are already helping Our Lady’s Hospice build a prayer room for patients and families and create an indigent care fund for patients who cannot pay. But in addition to the financial support, Sr. Deborah feels that staff from both organizations are connecting very well and is amazed at the support and engagement of Caring Circle. “This partnership adds a great element to a work day – it provides a different opportunity to exercise our skills and it broadens our perspective of the world.”
Another team from Kenya is planning a visit to Michigan in the spring of 2019.