Scott’s House is a not-for-profit 501(c)3 end-of-life house, located in Santa Fe, New Mexico, that offers its guests free room and board and care to those who are terminally ill and enrolled in a hospice program.
Scott’s House is an alternative to one’s home, and is set up to provide its guests the type of respite they’d expect in their own home environment. At Scott’s House, everything is provided to its guests free of charge.
Scott’s House nursing staff and trained volunteers are prepared to offer 24-hour care of the type that a responsible family member could provide in a private residence. The Scott’s House staff is trained to perform health care tasks that a family member at home may be trained or instructed to do. These tasks include assistance with activities of daily living—bathing and grooming, repositioning or transferring from one position to another, and helping with medications.
Each Scott’s House guest is assigned a private bedroom with access to a bathroom, the living quarters and the grounds. A kitchen is on site but used and maintained by Scott’s House staff and volunteers. Meals and personal laundry service are also provided.
It is the responsibility of each guest, during their stay at Scott’s House, that they arrange with their hospice care physician the coordination and management of their medical care. Scott’s House staff and volunteers cooperate with the hospice staff in providing care and support for the hospice care plan.
There is no charge for anything for any guest at Scott’s House.
Glenys Carl, as founder of Scott’s House and Coming Home Connection, as a tireless and selfless attendant to and advocate for those who can’t tend to or advocate for themselves, and just for being a pretty amazing human being, has received many many awards over the past 20 years.
- In 2003, she was awarded Santa Fe’s annual Spirit of the Community Prize
- In 2013, the organization Encore.org honored her as a Purpose Prize Fellow
- In 2014, she was selected by Money magazine as one of New Mexico’s most notable citizens
- In 2016, the Manhattan Institute chose her as one of that year’s four recipients of their annual Richard Cornuelle award (which honors nonprofit leaders who have found innovative, private solutions to America’s pressing social problems)
- In 2017, she was chosen as one of The New Mexican’s 10 Who Made a Difference
In addition to all that recognition, Carl has also established partnerships and collaborations, and brought in contributions, from organizations such as the ConAlma Foundation, the Santa Fe Community Foundation, the New Mexico Community Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, the McCune Charitable Foundation, the Rotary Club, Presbyterian Medical Services, Ambercare, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center, Kitchen Angels, and the generosity of numerous individuals.
But ask Carl about anything she’s ever been singled out for and she’ll be the first to tell you: “It is not about the awards.”
It being her work. It being helping others. It being Coming Home Connection, the nonprofit she founded in 2007 (where she has to date overseen the training of over 325 volunteers and the delivery of in-home care to up to 50 households per month in the Santa Fe area) and now Scott’s House—the first free residential hospice-care and respite facility here in New Mexico, and one of only a few in the entire country to offer a place where people facing advanced illnesses and the end of their lives can go to—essentially—die.
But unlike so many hospitals, nursing homes, and long-term care facilities, Scott’s House offers residents in-home around-the-clock care from qualified nurses (who are also trained to administer medicines), where residents can move on, pass, expire, transition in an environment that addresses each resident’s physical, emotional, social, and spiritual needs, that provides care and support to the resident’s caregivers as well, and that focuses on the resident’s pain and other symptoms in ways that allow the resident to live as comfortably as possible and make the most of the time that remains for them.
Scott’s House came into being because, as founder of Coming Home, Carl soon realized that “Coming Home,” she says, “doesn’t have a place to put people.” Being that Coming Home is, as explicitly stated by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, like all hospices, “not a place” and that “Hospice services can be provided to a person with limited life expectancy and his/her family, wherever they live. This means a patient living in a nursing facility or long-term care facility.”
Carl, then, being Carl (meaning she’s that rare type of person who answers Why? with Why not?), decided to set up a hospice that is a place. “A place,” stresses Carl, who hardly stresses anything, really, but whose convictions come through so purely and cleanly and so much from her heart, that whenever she says almost anything it has value to it, “to pass nicely and respectfully in a nice environment.”
In a way, Carl has been providing care to others almost her entire life. Born in Wales during World War II, Carl spent most of her childhood years with her grandmother (whose husband returned from the trenches of World War I with what was then referred to as shell shock—the debilitating psychological condition that’s known today as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). “My grandmother used to take me around to care for people in England and Wales [where hospices, coincidentally, originated],” recalls Carl, whose father was away in the army at that time, while her mother had had to go to work in a parachute factory. “My grandmother didn’t get paid for it. She just did it.”
After meeting and marrying an American, Carl later immigrated to America in the mid-60s with her three young sons, and worked in Detroit’s first Head Start program. She soon relocated to California—first to Berkeley, where she tried to put her University of Wales teaching degree to use, then to the mountains of Santa Cruz for nine years (where she taught and waitressed), and then to Los Angeles.
Aside from those trips with her grandmother, the other formative period in her life, probably the most formative, was the incapacitation and eventual death of her son Scott, for whom Scott’s House is named.
As she described it in her 2005 memoir, Hold My Hand, in 1987 Scott, who’d recently moved to Australia to attend college, suffered a traumatic head injury (after being severely beaten by burglars who’d broken into his home). Carl flew down to Australia immediately, and after Scott emerged from a three-month-long coma, she organized volunteers to care for him—because he was not covered by the Australian medical system.
In 1989, only 25, Scott died. (She has two remaining sons, one a marine biologist in Denmark and the other a woodworker in Pecos. And she has many grandchildren and a great-grandchild.)
Carl then relocated to Santa Fe the next year, where “a friend who’d known me since we were kids,” says Carl, “had just had a house built on Tano Road.”
That’s about when she got her first official hospice job, too—working with people with AIDS at Trevor Hawkins’ Southwest Care Center. Which is where the seeds for Coming Home Connection, and Scott’s House, first sprouted.
“I saw this lack of care for young AIDS patients who had no money and I remember thinking,” says Carl, “What about people who can’t afford care? Medicare pays for hospice but not for home care.”
So she founded Coming Home.
And now it’s just the opposite: it’s not younger people needing end-of-life care, it’s the burgeoning numbers of elderly (the over-65 population in Santa Fe is expected to grow by 64% by 2030). “People are getting older and living longer, especially here in Santa Fe,” observes Carl, “but many of them are disabled in some capacity and need care. And many of them just don’t know where to even start.”
“Most of them have to go to a nursing home,” she adds. “Which is when I saw the need for a hospice home.”
Her secret—one she hopes others around the country will pick up on—was in going to the nursing school at the Santa Fe Community College, “and taking as many of their nursing students as would join,” says Carl. “They learn a lot from one-on-one contact with patients, with our residents.”
It’s challenging work, no doubt. But it’s also rewarding—almost indescribably so.
“When people are dying,” Carl tries to explain, “a lot of times people become open. When passing, something strange comes around you. But then you get to your car and it’s gone. It’s like an opening. It goes as quickly as it comes.”
As for her new venture’s namesake. “He’s always there in the little things,” smiles Carl. “And he’d laugh his head off at me right now.”
Maybe. Or just as likely he’d be helping out however he could as well. “I threw myself into this work because,” says Carl, “if I hadn’t moved, I’d still be sipping tea, looking at the fire.”
Scott’s House is currently collecting donations to purchase a home in Santa Fe to establish a place for patients to spend their final days in a peaceful, supportive environment free of charge. Please support our efforts and give today.
Susan and Jane are just the kind of people Glenys Carl wants to help by establishing Scott’s House, which would be the first “social model hospice” facility in the state of New Mexico and one of only about 50 in the country.
“A Hospice House would have nurses, providers and volunteers all trained in hospice/comfort care. It could support our vulnerable homeless population so they don’t have to spend their last days on the streets. Or our large elderly and retirement population could elect to die in a Hospice House and not a nursing home. Our Native American population has rituals such as drumming that is often asked to be done quietly in a hospital. Death is part of our life, we all must go. I can tell you from years of experience, the environment counts. A beautiful death helps parents, children, spouses remember a loving and comfortable passing. It is collective space where grief can be supported by other families.
I commend and support your efforts 100%. I hope our community will one day SOON have such a valuable and amazing resource.”
Jennifer Trainor CNP
Hold My Hand: A Mother’s Journey
In this inspirational book Glenys describes her fight to rehabilitate Scott after the doctors advised that no more could be done to help his mobility and he should be put in a home. Glenys was determined she would look after Scott herself and teach him to walk again. Scott’s courage and his mother’s determination to give him the best possible life imbue with book with a powerful message of hope. Purchase a signed paperback book today to help support Scott’s House.
Signed Books are $30 plus $5 for Shipping ($10 of which go to support Scott’s House)