Gaia Home, a Bismarck-based non-profit made significant steps in 2021 toward building what will be one of the first residential end-of-life care facilities in North Dakota, to provide people with another option for care during their final season of life. Most recently Gaia Home received confirmation from the Internal Revenue Service that it qualifies as a 501(c)(3) public charity, which means donations are tax deductible.
The Gaia Home dream started to become a reality during North Dakota’s 2021 legislative session when lawmakers approved SB 2226, which created the Residential End-of-Life facility licensure. “The Rockstad Foundation was integral to the success of our legislative effort to allow North Dakotans to choose to spend their last days in the comfort of a home environment, with the services of the hospice provider of their choice,” says Kilee Harmon, Gaia Home Executive Director. Harmon is currently working with the North Dakota Department of Health and an Administrative Rules Committee to draft regulations for the newly created residential end-of-life facility licensure.
After Governor Doug Burgum signed SB 2226, Gaia Home conducted focus groups with people who have experienced the end-of-life journey of a loved one, local hospice providers, out-of-state hospice providers who operate similar facilities, and members of the Indigenous population to determine the amenities and design features needed in the Gaia Home residential facility. “Jeff Ubl of the Ubl Design Group took the feedback from our focus groups and graciously donated pre-design services to Gaia Home to ensure its future design promotes a culturally appropriate and beautiful final season of life for our guests,” explains Harmon.
The location of Gaia Home in Bismarck is still being determined. “We’re evaluating all potential land options and partners as our vision is to build an enclave of residential units and community spaces for guests and their families to live in during life’s final season, with a main building for administration and other amenities,” says Harmon. Hospice providers selected by the family, as well as Gaia Home caregiving staff and volunteers, will ensure the guest facing the end of life is comfortable and cared for in a private home setting. Gaia Home will allow family and friends to focus on spending quality time with their loved ones rather than providing caregiver duties.
“Our board is actively recruiting volunteers to assist with a major fundraising effort to begin in 2022 to fund the Gaia Home initiative. This residential end-of-life facility will be a blessing to those who do not want to die at home or in a non-home setting when in-home hospice care is not an option,” explains Harmon. Gaia Home anticipates the Gaia Giving Campaign will occur over the next two years.
“Gaia Home has made an amazing amount of progress in its inaugural year. I would like to thank everyone in the community who has supported this initiative thus far, as well as our Board of Directors, and volunteers,” says Harmon.