Transitions LifeCare in Raleigh, North Carolina, formerly known as Wake County Hospice, is a hospice and palliative care organization specializing in caring for patients who are navigating the challenges presented by serious illnesses. In addition to serving the patients, Transitions serves the families and caregivers of these patients. Typically, patients and their families served at Transitions are from low- and moderate-income households living in Wake and surrounding counties.  

The CCME foundation provided a $50,000 grant to expand Transitions’ capacity in serving the Hispanic community through its program, Alianza de Cuidado y Apoyo: Supporting the Hispanic Community to Navigate Serious Illness. The Hispanic community within North Carolina is generally underserved in the areas of palliative and hospice care, and barriers such as a lack of health insurance, language and cultural traditions, health literacy and educational levels, and a distrust of the medical system contribute to negative health outcomes within the population. The program intends to reach more than 5,000 people. Transitions staff began working with the Community Health Workers at El Centro Hispano and using El Centro’s current programming and networks in the Triangle area to develop tools, resources, and expand its mutual knowledge base about how to provide the best care for Hispanic population regarding serious illness and end of life care.   

The key to reaching the Hispanic community has been through relationship building, which ultimately builds trust and collaboration. Alianza de Cuidado y Apoyo Project Director, Betsy Barton, added that one way in which Transitions displayed its commitment was by simply “showing up” at the Frida Kahlo Awards, honoring LGBTQIA+ within the Latinx community and sponsored by El Centro. They include the El Centro outreach workers when holding educational events and trainings on the Transitions campus to further the knowledge base and outreach efforts and participate in Spanish-speaking events held by the El Centro community workers featuring the tools developed through the project collaboration. Ms. Barton stated, “It was a delight to see them using the tools we shared and making it their own.”  

Just some of these tools include the card game Go Wish, the Five Wishes form (which helps individuals address their own end of life wishes); the Hello (Hola) game (which helps players explore their life choices and end of life wishes in a less intimidating way), and a fact sheet that assists patients in communicating with their doctors after being diagnosed with a serious illness. All tools are developed collaboratively and provided in Spanish. 

The staff at Transitions has been using the grant to expand its capacity within the Hispanic community but also in adapting to additional needs and requests as they come up. There is an interest in learning more about dementia care and supporting these caregivers within the community. Other collaborations have evolved, such as Transitions’ intake forms, handbooks, and other documents being translated into Spanish as well as staff training on how to work with an interpreter within a clinical setting.    

To learn more about the work of Transitions LifeCare in Wake County, visit www.transitionslifecare.org.