Building a Home Away from Home

October 2015

There’s just something about the connection between a father and daughter. Lynn Lien remembers her father, William “Billy” Kee, as a strong man, a former SEC football player who could play just about any sport he put his mind to. He was, she said with a twinkle in her eye, “a character.” He was fiercely independent, but he also had a soft spot. His daughters were always his little girls, even after they were grown.

Inner strength was a quality Mr. Kee passed on to Lynn, who was a source of strength for her father during a very difficult time of life. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer at the age of 71, and when the prognosis was found to be terminal, Lynn was there to help him make the transition into hospice care.

Alive Hospice opened Middle Tennessee’s first hospice residence in Nashville in 2000, and it was a blessing for Mr. Kee and his family. There, they were surrounded by a team of Alive Hospice caregivers – a physician, nurses, social worker, chaplain and volunteers – who made the last 10 days of his life the very best they could be. It was a homelike environment, a peaceful place to spend time with a man who meant so much to Lynn and her family.

Today, Lynn Lien is an Alive Hospice board member. The Alive Hospice Residence was a safe haven for her family, and she believes one is needed in Murfreesboro, too. Plenty of others in Rutherford County agree.

And so, Alive Hospice has announced plans for a 10-bed Residence in the Parkway Office Park just off Medical Center Parkway. When it opens in late 2016/early 2017, it will be the first facility of its kind in Rutherford County: a free-standing, dedicated hospice facility for terminally ill patients that will serve patients in Alive Hospice’s southern sector of Rutherford, Bedford, Cannon, Coffee and DeKalb counties.

There’s a lot of work still to be done, but the planning continues every day. One of the key tasks we’re engaged in right now is designing the space (inside and out) with an eye toward creating an environment ideally suited for terminally ill patients and their families.

So how do you design a hospice facility? You start with the experience you want patients, families and visitors to have. From the moment they arrive, it should inspire feelings of serenity, solace and security. It should make them feel at home, because for the time they’re with us, it will be their home.

The appearance of the building should be fresh, beautiful and calming. When you open the door, the interior lighting should be soothing as you step into an immaculate reception area. The decor and the art on the walls should be warm and tranquil.

We’ve also looked closely at the layout of the building. We have to make it easy for visitors to find their way around, because every minute with a terminally ill loved one is precious. We have to provide amenities to make their stay comfortable: a dining area with delicious meals, for instance; family gathering areas; a quiet space; and don’t forget toys and a children’s space!

Patients’ rooms should be large enough to accommodate several visitors, and don’t forget the hide-a-bed for those who want to stay overnight. The furniture should be stately and well maintained, and patients will be encouraged to bring personal items from home.

It should be a place where patients and families can have the same experience Lynn Lien’s family had: a home away from home. This will be the community’s hospice residence, after all. It will be all of this and more.

Our mission: We provide loving care to people with life-threatening illnesses, support to their families and service to the community in a spirit of enriching lives.