YoloCares: Helping Families Navigate Life’s Final Stages

PUBLISHED MAR 10, 2024 2:40 P.M.
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With spaces to relax and socialize, YoloCares facilities support patients along their care journey—not just the end of life.

With spaces to relax and socialize, YoloCares facilities support patients along their care journey—not just the end of life.   YoloCares

As the Sacramento region’s first independent hospice, YoloCares has long been a trailblazer on behalf of those with life-limiting illnesses. Today, this organization has expanded into a nationally recognized partner in the hospice world while remaining a great comfort to local families dealing with heartbreaking circumstances.

This month the nonprofit will host its 2024 Quintessential Care Summit on March 15, in partnership with Sacramento State Department of Gerontology.

The event will feature award-winning poet Mark Doty and Dr. Cameron Muir, chief innovation officer of the National Partnership for Healthcare and Hospice Innovation, in addition to a dozen other experts. The summit is being held at Sacramento State University.

Gia Martucci, a spokesperson for YoloCares, says the summit serves as “an educational resource for the local communities and beyond regarding all end-of-life issues.”

It also offers an occasion to celebrate the work done by YoloCares, a leading provider of bereavement and hospice services for residents not only of Yolo but also Sutter, Colusa, Sacramento, and Solano counties.

Deep Roots

For more than 40 years, YoloCares was known as Yolo Hospice. The organization started out as a small, volunteer-led effort in 1979 to support those at the end of their lives. Today, YoloCares still offers quality hospice services for families.

The human spirit has always been at the heart of what YoloCares does, and team members individualize care for every family they work with. What is important to a person experiencing the end of life? How should time be spent? What goals are still left to achieve? These are a few of the questions asked of patients to create the best support plan possible.

Over the years, the organization grew—both geographically and also in its roster of services offered. As decades passed, the surrounding community evolved, and Yolo Hospice kept up by diversifying the ways it served and supported. Eventually, the name Yolo Hospice was limiting the organization’s reach.

The Tom Frankel Water Wall Terrace offers
patients a serene spot for socializing.

In 2021, the decision was made to change the name to YoloCares. Communications specialist Martucci says the new name and logo were needed. “This move was made in order to be more inclusive of our programs as we have expanded over the last 40 years. Our vision is that YoloCares offers a broad continuum of care that can support patients along their care journey—not just for the last six months of their lives.”

While YoloCares supports the journey of so many others, it is also on its own path, with new opportunities to reach new families and make a difference both locally and nationally. 

Confronting Loss

While YoloCares’ original focus was on end-of-life patients, it has also recognized the importance of helping those left behind. Its Center for Loss & Hope offers a variety of counseling and support services for those who have experienced the significant loss of a loved one. These resources include: 

  • One-on-One Emotional Support—Individual support, family meetings, and referrals to long-term counseling resources. 
  • Anticipatory Loss Support Group—Designed for both those living with life-limiting conditions and those that love them. 
  • Adult Bereavement Support Group—A support group for anyone aged 18+ who has lost a loved one.
  • Child Loss Support Group—For those who have lost a child of any age.
  • Bereavement Support for LGBTQ+—YoloCares offers support in partnership with the Sacramento LGBT Community Center. 
  • Bereavement Support for Spanish Speakers—Offered in partnership with CommuniCare HealthCenters CREO Program. 
  • Stepping Stones—For children and teens dealing with the death and/or terminal illness of a loved one. Participants can remain in the program as long as they wish to. 
  • Memorial Services—Quarterly services provide grieving family members with the chance to publicly honor their lost loved one.
  • The Barbara Frankel Memorial Library—Resources and literature on loss and grief recovery. 

Enriching Experiences

In recent years, YoloCares has offered several programs to benefit patients and their families. 

Galileo Place, a project developed by YoloCares, is an adult day program in Davis that includes a 6,000-square-foot facility with an attached therapy garden.

At the time of the opening, Martucci says, Galileo Place was the first weekday respite program in Davis, providing “socialization and enrichment activities for seniors with mild cognitive impairments.”

YoloCares aims to ease caregivers’ guilt about using adult day care by creating a welcoming environment at Galileo Place.

Many caretakers of aging parents carry guilt about needing to utilize an adult day care program, Martucci says, holding legitimate concerns that their loved one will be treated in a condescending manner. Galileo Place aims to remove this stigma from the industry with its welcoming environment, she says. Each participant is respected and empowered to be independent in whatever manner they are able. 

The building is colorful, decorated smartly, and contains windows that flood rooms with natural light. This facility also includes a family room, art studio library, game room, kitchen, and even a meditation suite along with the therapy garden. The goal is to make the facility truly feel like a home, and this effort combined with meals and social time among residents have brought a positive option onto the table for many families.

YoloCares University is an educational resource for clinicians and employees of facilities that partner with the organization. The ultimate goal is to provide the highest quality of care to patients, and the university model will help clinicians obtain Continuing Education Units while learning skills in care and compassion when it comes to end-of-life care. 

The Life Transitions Project seeks to serve those living in Yolo County’s rural Capay Valley. The project addresses the issue that rural and Native American communities tend to be more prone to conditions covered by hospice—including cancer, heart disease and respiratory issues—yet lack access to hospice and palliative care.

Volunteers with special skills can lead YoloCares clients in various activities.

Get Involved

YoloCares loves its volunteers, Martucci says, and is ready to welcome more. The Citizens Who Care Volunteer Program provides a variety of ways to get involved. From providing companionship and respite care, to walking a patient’s dog, there are plenty of ways to make a meaningful difference in the lives of others through YoloCares. 

Other opportunities include the following: 

  • Flower deliveries—Bring flowers to patients and brighten their day.
  • Special events—Volunteer at fundraisers, memorial events, and more.
  • Office support—Perform clerical tasks and patient check-in calls.
  • Activities leader/special performances—Use your special skills and talents to lead patients in activities or perform for them.

Comprehensive training is provided to all volunteers, and up to 22 continuing education units can be earned for those wishing to become certified end-of-life specialists. No matter what your goals are, there is a place to serve and help at YoloCares.

As part of the California Hospice Network, YoloCares continues to lead the way as a provider of bereavement and hospice services. Contact YoloCares at (530).758-.5566 or visit YoloCares.org.


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