End-of-Life Planning and Care

The McElhattan Foundation believes it is possible for most people to have a higher quality of life at the end of life. Grants in our End-of-Life Planning and Care program area will support initiatives in three strategic areas: Awareness and Documentation, Caregiver/Provider Training and Support, and Technological Innovation. As always, we seek to fund changemakers—visionary leaders and strong teams who will create dramatic, measurable improvement in how patients and their families experience the inevitable process of dying.

We will support initiatives that educate and empower our community—Western Pennsylvania—about end-of-life decision-making, including clarifying the option of hospice care. We are open to funding broad awareness campaigns as well as targeted efforts aimed at reaching specific segments of the population, especially underserved groups. Once an individual understands their end-of-life options and decides upon their preferences, it’s essential for that person to make their wishes known, in advance and in writing, to their loved ones and medical providers. We will support initiatives designed to make recording and sharing this information easier.

We support initiatives that offer resources, such as respite care, practical training, and counseling, to family and other nonprofessional caregivers. We support programs that train or retrain professional end-of-life care providers—nurses, doctors, social workers, home healthcare aides, etc.—for careers that pay family-sustaining wages. We are particularly interested in improving communication skills around end-of-life care for providers, and in high-quality home-based care. This work too will be focused in Western Pennsylvania.

We believe technology can play a role in improving the “quality of death” for many people. Perhaps there is an application for existing technology, like augmented reality, in training caregivers, or perhaps someone can use emerging technology to prevent pressure sores. We would love to see this innovation begin in Pittsburgh, but we are open to applications from end-of-life tech innovators anywhere in the U.S. (To clarify: the bar here is high. We are not funding requests to purchase equipment like VR headsets, iPads, etc. We are looking for game-changing new ideas that could move the entire field of end-of-life care forward.)

Note: Our focus is “Quality of life at the end of life.” We realize “end of life” is broad, but we’ve chosen it intentionally, building upon our mission of preserving and enhancing human life and our vision of eliminating end-of-life suffering. “Hospice care” has a specific definition under Medicare, and we want to support more than hospice programs. “Palliative care” can apply to conditions that are not necessarily fatal, but we’re concerned with issues that come up in association with death. “End of life,” to us, also includes more than just medical care. For many people, dying also raises legal, spiritual, and cultural questions that need to be addressed with just as much attention as, for example, pain control.