News & Features

Feature: Zen Hospice Project, a Model for Compassionate Care
Learn how Zen Hospice Project describes their programs and practices

Through a range of services that include direct care, educational programs and inspirational support, we have served more than 31,000 people. Our primary geographic focus is the Bay Area but our impact and models have national and international relevance.

Zen Hospice was initially founded in San Francisco to provide community-based hospice services to indigent cancer patients.  We quickly expanded that focus as an early responder to the AIDS crisis, providing care in an era when fear was rampant. In 1990, Zen Hospice opened its iconic Guest House to help attend to those dying and in most need of support.

Since then, Zen Hospice has created and implemented a model volunteer program that teaches compassionate caregiving to those facing end-of-life with contemplative tools.  Volunteers serve our Guest House and San Francisco’s city-run long-term care hospital, providing daily and continual support for one of the city’s most underserved communities. Zen Hospice’s volunteer program has emerged as the longest continuously running hospice volunteer program in the country.

In 2010, Zen Hospice renovated and re-opened the Guest House as a licensed residential care facility for the chronically ill with 24-hour nursing staff, all of whom are trained in our specific approach to mindful, compassionate and skillful care. In the Guest House we are able to care for a diverse audience of need including “residents” and families with limited financial resources.

The practices Zen Hospice began using over twenty years ago are still central to our practice: “Our mission is to help change the experience of dying.  We create a space for living that offers the opportunity for individuals, their loved ones and caregivers to find comfort, connection and healing in this shared human experience.   Through our pioneering model of care, we inspire each other to live fully.”

In recognition of Zen Hospice’s distinctive approach to volunteer hospice care, the Cleo Foundation supported Zen Hospice’s Volunteer Caregiver Program in 2008 and 2011 (the Cleo Foundation prefers that three years elapse between grants).

Check out Zen Hospice Project’s website to learn more.