Introducing the Faith Community Empowerment Project
The Faith Community Empowerment Project is an expansion of the African American Church Empowerment Project that was developed specifically to address the disparity in quality of end-of-life care amongst African American communities.
As faith community leaders outside of the African American churches became aware of the positive impact our education and training program had within the African American congregations, we began receiving inquiries about providing the same support within their own faith communities.
“It is time to refocus, reinforce, and repeat the message
that health disparities exist and that health equity benefits everyone.”
– Kathleen G. Sebelius,
Former Secretary, US Dept of Health and Human Services
Disparity of Care
While hospice use has increased over the past few decades, hospice care continues to be underutilized nation-wide to the detriment of terminally ill patients and their loved ones, who may not be receiving the many benefits that hospice provides to those facing the end of life, including: expert pain control, symptom management, increased quality of life, emotional and spiritual support, volunteer assistance, social work services, and bereavement care.
The Faith Community Empowerment Project seeks to address this disparity, ensuring community members have access to resources that could most benefit them.
Today the Faith Community Empowerment Project provides education and resources to help caregivers navigate the task of caring for loved ones approaching end of life. By training members of the faith community, we prepare embedded advocates for caregivers and patients.
The Project is comprised of five 2-hour sessions, available virtually via Zoom, or in person. Each session begins with a meal provided by the Project. The meal is followed by robust conversations addressing the following topics:
*SESSION 1: AN INTRODUCTION TO HOSPICE
In this first session, we’ll explain hospice eligibility, who pays for hospice, where hospice care happens, the hospice team concept, and grief support.
*SESSION 2: ADVANCE DIRECTIVES
Experience the emotional journey of doctors, patients, and family members as they make difficult end-of-life decisions in an ICU setting, as seen through the documentary ‘Extremis’. We’ll explore documents used to make someone’s wishes known in regards to medical treatment when they are unable to speak for themselves. Participants are encouraged to begin difficult conversations about end-of-life preferences and plans with family members and friends.
*SESSION 3: GRIEF AND BEREAVEMENT
Participants will engage in a discussion about the impact loss has on all our lives, what supportive presence looks like, and how to offer that presence to others. This session includes role-play.
*SESSION 4: “ASK THE DOCTOR”
Follow a physician on his journey to understand the importance of preparing patients and families for end-of-life issues in the documentary Being Mortal. Our hospice medical director will join the group to share experiences and answer questions. Participants are encouraged to talk with members of the community about the training and coursework.
*SESSION 5: EMPATHIC LISTENING
Bren’e Brown defines empathy as “…simply listening, holding space, withholding judgment, emotionally connecting, and communicating that incredibly healing message of you’re not alone.” Participants will review elements of empathic listening, and then use role-play to heighten listening skills. The goal will be to encourage conversation even if they do not have answers. Participants will be presented with a certificate acknowledging their training.
The Faith Community Empowerment Project director is available for follow-up support for one year, offering additional educational opportunities and resources. This also encompasses facilitating grief support, including grief support groups for those who have lost loved ones to COVID-19.
The Faith Community Empowerment Project team seeks to collaborate with the leadership of each faith community to craft a training experience that respects the particularities of the group. Following the leadership’s guidance, each training experience speaks to the specific concerns of a given community without judgement or sanction.
The Faith Community Empowerment Project is presented at no cost to participants, thanks to a grant from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation.
To learn more, simply reach out to our team.
Articles of Reference
ISLAMIC PERSPECTIVES ON END OF LIFE:
- Pulling the Plug: The Islamic Perspectives on End-of-Life Care (Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research, November 13, 2017, Maryam Sultan)
- Muslim Attitudes towards End-of-Life Decisions (The Journal of IMA, 2011, Gamal Badawi, PhD)
- How Islam Influences End-of-Life Care: Education for Palliative Care Clinicians (Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, December, 2016, Madeline Leong, MD, et al.)