Each day, JourneyCare works to provide outstanding clinical care to patients in their homes, in its five inpatient Hospice CareCenters and at partner sites like senior living facilities.
JourneyCare also strives to shape the future of hospice and palliative medicine, both within and outside of the organization.
Through professional education that includes accredited fellowships, residency programs and student rotations, agency leaders share best practices and innovative therapies for managing pain and symptoms.
JourneyCare also continues a tradition founded by its legacy agencies, participating in cultural programs to build care skills locally, nationally and internationally. In the organization’s first year, team members have participated in three international programs that have continued this tradition of leadership:
Mexico City, Mexico
This spring, four health sciences students from Universidad Panamericana in Mexico and six undergraduate students from Northwestern University, who are studying public health in Mexico, visited JourneyCare’s Glenview campus.
As part of their three-day program, the students spent an afternoon with JourneyCare physicians and practitioners, including Dr. Gordon Wood, who discussed palliative care; Dr. Alan Smookler, who shared insights on hospice care; and Music-Thanatologist Tony Pederson, who demonstrated a music vigil on his harp.
The students also toured the Marshak Family Hospice CareCenter and Waud Family Healing Garden.
“There are no words to describe the feeling of peace and tranquility I felt upon entering JourneyCare,” recalled Montserrat Mayela Cuadra Alvarez, a fourthyear medical student. “From the state-of-the-art facilities and gardens to the warm and welcoming smiles from all the staff, I knew this experience would stay with me forever.
“Having the unparalleled opportunity of learning about end-of-life care directly from the experts and watching demonstrations of music-thanatology made me understand that there is still so much we can do for patients at this stage of their life. As future healthcare providers, we can really make a difference and let them know that they do not have to face their illness alone.”
Students also participated in workshops led by clinicians from sites that include Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago, both JourneyCare partners.
Cultural sensitivity is a critical component in hospice social work. While everyone copes with serious illness and loss differently, a person’s cultural or religious background can further affect how this process unfolds.
That is one reason why Bereavement Team Lead Fran Nathanson traveled to Osaka, Japan, for one week in early November 2015, as a delegate in The Osaka-Chicago Social Services Exchange, a Chicago Sister Cities International initiative that began in 2008.
The exchanges alternate between Chicago and Osaka each year and focus on understanding the social work needs for youth and families, people with disabilities and older adults. Interdisciplinary professionals are invited to build relationships, deepen cultural understanding, and share best practices related to their varied work in human services.
“It is important to understand how cultural context informs the decisions individuals and families make about medical care, and who needs to participate in those decisions,” Nathanson explains. “JourneyCare provides services to people from such a wide array of cultures, that developing a sense of ‘cultural intelligence’ through international exchange programs can provide staff with a unique perspective on how best to care for our families.”
Nathanson joined five other social service professionals from multiple disciplines, participating in site visits to Osaka social service agencies and learning from Japanese leaders about their culture and best practices. Delegates also learned about hospice and other medical care services.
After her return, Nathanson joined her fellow delegates in presenting a seminar for Chicago Sister Cities International on effective social service policy and practice across international contexts. The team discussed findings as they pertain to ethnic minorities, LGBT services, mental illness, developmental disabilities, homelessness and older adults.
“Having the opportunity to represent JourneyCare not only during the exchange, but in the follow up presentations to social service providers here in Chicago has been a wonderful way to participate in a discussion of how thoughtfully we serve our diverse clientele,” Nathanson said.
Somerset West, South Africa
Much like JourneyCare, Helderberg Hospice in Somerset West, South Africa, was founded in response to community needs and operates as a nonprofit organization. It was one of the earliest hospices opened in the African country.
It only makes sense, then, that executives from both organizations spent time learning about each other’s programs when CEO Gail Sykes and Patricia McNaught Davis, head of philanthropy and public relations, traveled to the United States in September 2015. Sykes and McNaught Davis met with leaders throughout JourneyCare, including Chief Operating Officer Kelly Fischer, the Marketing & Communications team, and Anne Rossiter, Senior Director of Philanthropy for the JourneyCare Foundation.
In addition, the duo watched a music vigil demonstration by Music-Thanatologist Margaret Pasquesi. Sykes called the practice of musicthanatology “fascinating,” adding that she was interested to learn how this discipline helps alleviate physical symptoms in patients.
“I think the most interesting point that came up was that, although we are from a tiny hospice relative to JourneyCare on the southern tip of Africa, we are able to give the same kind of professional, caring attention to our patients and their families as that given in the United States,” Sykes said. “These kinds of communication sessions prove that, although we are different with various levels of funding and facilities, we in hospice and palliative care are very proud to be able to do what we do for our community.”