The Health Communication Research Institute, Inc. (HCRI, Inc.), a 501(c)(3) non-profit, was founded in 1989 with a mission to improve doctor/patient communication, specifically around end-of-life conversations. Over the years, HCRI focused on the reduction of health care disparities. As homelessness increased across the USA, HCRI, Inc. found that the most underserved population of all – the homeless – was experiencing more untreated chronic diseases, little preventative care and no palliative/hospice care.
The result – more people are dying every day on the streets of this country from cancer, diabetes, heart disease, infections, liver disorders, HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C. The effects of living unsheltered significantly ages homeless men and women and prevents the effective treatment and management of chronic illness. Homeless individuals are dying younger and have higher mortality/morbidity rates than housed chronically ill individualsIn 2015, HCRI, Inc. began a new journey – to create a hospice house for the terminally ill homeless in Sacramento, CA – Joshua’s House Volunteer Hospice – in memory of a young man, Joshua Lee Nielson (1980-2014), who had a vision of preventing these men and women from dying alone, scared and in pain on the streets or along the rivers of our community.
It will house initially 15 residents at a time and provide art and music therapy, writing as healing therapy, shelter, meals, clothing and compassionate care while local health partners (Sutter Health, UC Davis Health, Dignity Health and Kaiser Permanente) will provide hospice care.