LOCKPORT – A handmade quilt that offers encouragement and caring messages will welcome hospice guests in Rebekah’s Pathway, a new collaborative Niagara Hospice site in the Odd Fellow and Rebekah Rehabilitation and Health Care Center.
Niagara Hospice volunteers began collecting precut quilt squares of signatures and messages at the grand opening of the new site at the beginning of the month and plan to complete the quilt for presentation in the spring. It will hang in the hallway at the entrance of Rebekah’s Pathway, a dedicated Niagara Hospice wing in the nursing home.
The quilt will be sewn by Mary Dixon, a volunteer for Niagara Hospice since 2007, along with Karen Feger and Sally Weber, Niagara Hospice human resources coordinator, who started the project.
Dixon said the idea of creating signature quilts began in 2007, shortly before she began volunteering.
She said at that time volunteers made four quilts, which still hang in Hospice House on Sunset Drive in Lockport. People have continued to add messages as the original messages fade.
“It’s amazing. Over the years people have gone over the other signatures and written new messages. I think it gives the family comfort, and it’s a place for them to put a message,” Dixon said.
She said some of the messages for Rebekah’s Pathway are congratulations or memorials, while others are very personal.
“We’ve got special pens so the writing won’t fade,” Dixon said of the new quilt. “But there will be room for people to add messages. We can make it quite large. We haven’t decided, but we might put a couple of blank squares.”
She said unlike a memorial that has names carved into it, this quilt can evolve with new messages.
The cotton quilt will be teal and an orange/brown when completed, with the off-white muslin signature squares attached within the design.
“Signature quilts are often done for anniversaries or weddings,” Dixon said. “It’s a hands-on personal message,” said Dixon. “It gives you a warm feeling that people can share their thoughts in a quilt. And a quilt is made for warmth, so it all goes together.”
Rebekah’s Pathway, which is a nine-bed wing, is located in one of three nursing homes that have dedicated Niagara Hospice units so that people facing end-of-life decisions in nursing homes can get the extra care of Niagara Hospice without leaving nursing homes, which for many have become a second home. Other sites are David’s Path in the Schoellkopf Health Care Center at Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center and Jeanne’s House at Northgate Health Care Center in Wheatfield.
Some of the staff members at these nursing homes have become like family and have been invited to share messages on square blocks for the quilt.
Kay Dekker, vice president of hospice services at Niagara Hospice, said, “Collaborations such as this are unique, and their success depends on every individual involved. We are fortunate to have an exceptional partner here in Lockport in the dedicated Odd Fellow staff, and we look forward to providing additional resources for the benefit of their seriously ill residents.”
Dekker also said that when a resident receiving hospice services dies, the door is not closed on the family. Family members have the benefit of bereavement services from Niagara Hospice for 13 months.
“These services are extended to the staff, who often become very much like family to the residents they care for,” said Dekker.
Hospice care is appropriate when the prognosis is approximately six months or less to live if the disease were to run its normal course. Many patients live beyond six months and can continue receiving hospice care by meeting criteria set by Medicare.
For more information about Niagara Hospice, visit www.niagarahospice.org or call 439-4417. More information about Odd Fellow & Rebekah Rehabilitation & Health Care Center can be found at www.oddfellowrehab.org or by calling 434-6324.