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Together We Go: [Update July 28, 2016- Amplify and Experience Map] Together We Go: Update- partnering to create an initial experiment!

Government stipend allows a family with a young child to live with a dying person, offering care while facilitating a parent to stay home.

Photo of Cheryl Espinosa-Jones

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Who is your idea designed for and how does it reimagine the end-of-life experience?

Currently, excellent care at the end of life is facilitated by available family or community and/or high access to money. Pairing strangers who are interested in supporting each other offers families a chance to integrate an experiential understanding of death in their children, introduces generational opportunities at the end of life and supplies much needed physical support to those who don't have access to that support otherwise. Helps both parties financially while enhancing both experiences

When my first child was a baby, I worked for a friend who was at the end of her life, helping out in her apartment and running the necessary errands, etc. It was a rich experience! I have many fond memories of watching their interactions, their eye contact, their connection. I envision an opportunity for families to get more comfortable with the life cycle from early on and I notice that sometimes it is easier to adjust to the realities of death with friendly strangers, then apply those lessons to your own family. This would also contribute to reducing the stress on parents of early childhood  by offering productive and meaningful occupation that allows someone to stay home with the child. It would also reduce the need for outside services because people who are cared for in the home do better.

What early, lightweight experiment might you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

The senior village movement ( could casually connect people at the end of life with young families. Perhaps the person at end of life has room in their house to offer at a reduced rental in exchange for some looking after, which could be defined by arrangement. The experiment would be to see what pluses and minuses come from pairing these two populations. Does the dying person find the child exhausting, or inspiring? How does this support more connection at the end?

What skills, input or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

This is an untried idea but one I would love to fill out. It needs a group of good thinkers to help develop it, think through how it works and plan how to get it going. Would also be invaluable to generate ways to find people willing to start developing ways to automate the process. Envision it being like a dating site, where the two parts of the equation can find each other and are vetted for similar value systems and expectations. Ultimately would like to see an app that facilitates.

Tell us about your work experience:

I've been a grief counselor for 30 years and have worked extensively with cancer and illness. My first wife died of cancer after a long illness and I learned lots about the people aspect of dying. On my radio show, Good Grief I've had many guests who talk about how to improve end of life.

This idea emerged from

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Attachments (2)

Together We Go Amplify.pdf

Test usefulness to see if expectation are met. These include service to elder/dying person and normalization of death and dying process to young families. Also facilitates a parent staying home with young children if the family desires that. Further, the elder/dying person can be cared for in a family-like environment. Conducive to greater autonomy, better mental health and benefit to the broader community.

Together We Go Experience Map.pdf

How might people at the end of their lives connect with people who can care for them in a family atmosphere? There is an advantage for all parties to coming together and see a person through the end of their lives. The experience of end of life is deep, meaningful and fulfilling if the parties insure they are compatible.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Elaine Mansfield

Cheryl, this got buried in my pile. I think of the incredible help that comes from volunteers in my local hospice. We have a huge number of available volunteers who sit with sick people, hold vigils, walk dogs, weed gardens, take people shopping, offer rest time for family, and even adopt pets the dying person will have to leave behind. Some people spend many hours every day if the patient needs this, but I don't think anyone is paid. We work mostly with volunteers, but I imagine that could be broadened when people have money to pay. Our hospice takes anyone into the residence if they need a supportive place to die, whether they pay or not. So why not be a little more active in helping people stay at home if that's what they wish?
I hope this idea flies. Thank you, Elaine

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