A view from “Glow: More Than a Runway,” a fashion show to increase understanding about World Hospice
and Palliative Care Day.

Hospice strutted its stuff recently with “Glow: More Than a Runway.” The fashion show, hosted by Hospice of the Chesapeake in partnership with Saks Fifth Avenue, strived to raise awareness about World Hospice and Palliative Care Day on Oct. 8.

“We’ve done galas before, but this is quite a new endeavor for us,” Hospice of the Chesapeake Chief Advancement Officer Shauna Chabot told McKnight’s Home Care Daily Pulse in advance of the event held in Chevy Chase, MD. “It’s a little bit untraditional for us. But the goals are still the same. We want to raise awareness and increase understanding of hospice and palliative care and grief care and, and hopefully garner some financial support for our organization and for the mission at large.”

The show, which hosted about 150 guests in its inaugural year, had an international flair, showcasing fashion designers from around the world. It also hosted South African ambassador Nomaindiya Cathleen Mfeketo and United Kingdom ambassador Karen Pierce. But the ambassadors were not there simply by coincidence; their presence held an important connection to Hospice of the Chesapeake.

“The reason we chose them is that the modern hospice movement was actually started in London by Dame Cicely Saunders at St. Christopher’s hospice in London,” Chabot said. “That’s why England is important. South Africa is important because we have a sister hospice there, Brits-Hartbeespoort Hospice, northwest of Johannesburg. A teeny-tiny little hospice, their annual budget is about $60,000 a year. And we, in 2023, will be celebrating 20 years of partnership with them.”

In the wake of a global pandemic and increased social isolation, an overarching theme of the gala was “healing hearts and communities.” The problems stemming from COVID-19 disproportionately affected families with loved ones in hospice, Chabot explained.

“In the beginning of COVID, people were in the hospital and they were dying, and they were isolated. And the family members were left behind not being able to be with their loved ones in the end,” Chabot said. “Healing hearts and communities is really that overarching theme that recognizes the struggle that we’ve all been through. We hear from families every day that are experiencing advanced illness, that they feel this sense of loneliness, and it’s quite profound.”

While hospice and palliative care often have negative perceptions in American society, Chabot hopes that events like the fashion show can change the industry’s image.

“Nobody wants to think about death until it’s right there,” she said. “And there’s a lot of things that hospice can do to not intentionally or significantly extend life.”

She noted that there is a myth that hospice takes place one or days before death.

“It’s absolutely not true,” Chabot said. “It’s a six-month benefit. We provide a doctor, a nurse, a social worker, an aide, a chaplain and a volunteer. We put a whole team around every patient. I’m looking forward to being able to get that message out and hopefully have people become more comfortable with the idea of hospice and palliative care.”

Editor’s note: Home Sweet Home is a feature appearing Mondays in McKnight’s Home Care Daily Pulse. The story focuses on a heartwarming, entertaining or quirky happening affecting the world of home care. If you have a topic that might be worthy of the spotlight in Home Sweet Home, please email Liza Berger at [email protected].