Friday, February 26, 2021

Spreading Love with Valentine’s Day Cards

Even during a public health emergency, hospice and palliative care professionals rise to the challenge of providing compassionate, person-centered care in the community. Katie Sue Van Valkenburg of Namaste Home Health and Hospice in Denver, CO shares how a Valentine’s Day idea grew to have a huge impact in the community.

January, 2021 – It's been nearly a year into life amidst COVID-19, and people around the country are frustrated, lonely, and craving connection. And while people are eager to commune in person, there are still many fears revolving around the risk of offering that face-to-face interaction. One activity still safe for all? Old school letter writing. And who doesn't love getting a Valentine's Day card? 

What started as a hope to collect a few cards for notably isolated hospice patients for Valentine's Day quickly grew to an incredible 650+ cards collected by Namaste Home Health and Hospice of Denver, Colorado. Between Facebook posts, viral photos, and word of mouth, cards started pouring in from all across the country, and even Canada!

Cards came from 18 different states, Washington, D.C., and two provinces of Canada. Many cards were created by families looking for a fun activity to complete with kids, others came from adults taking an emotional leadership class, and even more came from artists using the cards as their canvas. 

With the sheer number of cards, Namaste Hospice created gift baskets for eleven different skilled nursing homes and assisted living facilities in the Denver metro area. Within the basket were enough cards for every single resident of the facility to get some Valentine's Day love via a handmade card. Reports from the facilities including glowing reviews from the residents, with exclamations of joy whilst reading their personal note from strangers across the nation. 

In addition to offering endless amounts of love to hundreds of humans living in facilities, families and teachers found the project to be a teaching opportunity. Many students had not heard of hospice before, meaning the project allowed kids as young as three years old glimpses into the lives of those living in facilities and the care provided by hospice teams. 

Namaste Hospice is grateful for the support of the community and hopes to create an annual tradition of card collections. 

If you would like to share the creative ways your hospice and palliative care team is caring for patients amid the COVID-19 public health emergency, please send us your photos and stories so you can be featured in the #hapcFacesOfCaring campaign.