Proposed legislation would create framework for “end of life care homes”

Solace House of the Ozarks pushing for legislation so they can expand.

JOPLIN, Mo. – The house at 2425 S Mina Avenue in Joplin may seem like any other. But it’s what happens inside that makes it one of a kind.

“It’s a place where individuals who are under the management of a hospice provider can come and spend their last days,” says Amanda Bearden with Solace House of the Ozarks.

Solace House of the Ozarks is what the organization calls an “end of life care home,” where volunteers provide a 24/7 presence and care to people in their final days of life.

It’s different from hospice or other senior care, because the organization doesn’t provide medical care. Visitors hospice care providers still do that. The main goal is to make the time easier for family members who can’t — or wouldn’t want to focus on providing care and oversight when hospice care isn’t around.

“So we are filling in the gaps for where a family member or loved ones aren’t able to provide that 24-7 care,” explains Bearden.

The service is offered for free — the organization operates on volunteers and donations — and officially got started in March of 2020.

Right now, the non-profit can only have two beds because of a lack in definitions at the state level for homes like theirs.

“I can tell you the need is greater than that. But we want to do this right,” says Missouri Representative Lane Roberts.

Earlier this month, Roberts introduced a house bill that would define end of life care homes — setting up a framework for organizations like Solace House to operate with more than just one or two guests. It would set up things like licensing, rules and regulations through the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.

“This is something that is a labor of love for them. So if we can craft this legislation and make a success of it, and allow them to be able to realize the model that they’re after, I think it would be a big deal to them,” says Roberts. “There are states where models like this have existed, but generally you don’t have as many of these facilities as you might expect. There may be less than 50 in the entire nation. It’s not easy to put together an organization, particularly when it’s all volunteer like this one is. So there may not be as many of them grow out of this as you might think, but for those that do they will obviously be a Godsend for the people who need these kinds of facilities.”

Solace House hopes to find a new house or build their own on some donated land if the bill passes to bring their capacity to ten beds.

“We would be 100 percent ready to grow. And we’re very much looking forward to the opportunity to continue serving,” says Bearden.

If you would like to learn more about Solace House of the Ozarks, click here:


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