SPOTLIGHTING SUCCESS IN THE NETWORK
ARIZONA END OF LIFE CARE PARTNERSHIP
This feature story is an extension of UWRA’s Aging in Place research conducted in 2019, funded by a grant from the Cinda A. Hallman Memorial Fund, which addresses two of the recommendations made by UWRA: 1) Amplify United Way’s commitments to older adults, and 2) Drive knowledge sharing across the United Way network.
UWRA had the opportunity during its Aging in Place research to learn more about the Arizona End of Life Care Partnership (EOLCP), which is anchored at United Way of Tucson & Southern Arizona.
According to Sarah Ascher, Senior Director for the Arizona EOLCP, “The EOLCP is a collaborative partnership, dedicated to creating a comprehensive network of end of life care support and resources in Tucson and Southern Arizona.” Tony Penn, President & CEO, United Way of Tucson & Southern Arizona, noted, “The EOLCP’s mission is to fundamentally change the way we talk about death.”
Since its formation in 2017, the EOLCP is becoming a national model and is now one of the largest funded partnerships of its kind in the U.S.
Discussing death can be a difficult conversation. Bree Johnston, Professor of Medicine, University of Arizona College of Medicine, Banner University Medical Center – Tucson, said it this way: “In this country, we’ve sidelined death. We have pretended that it is optional.” She further explained, “We, in medicine, tend to be very focused on what procedures we can do, but we need to talk more to people about what’s important to them, what gives them meaning in their life.”
A goal of the EOLCP is to normalize that conversation. Maribel Alvarez, Associate Dean, Community Engagement for the University of Arizona, College of Social & Behavioral Sciences, acknowledged an unexpected benefit of the EOLCP when she observed, “We are beginning to see that death is just one of the doors through which we can talk about other things.” Nancy Johnson, CEO of El Rio Health, went further to say, “This is a fabulous opportunity for our community to create better lives for everyone.”
The EOLCP continues to evolve into a network of organizations and individuals committed to promoting quality of life at every stage through education, support, sound policy, and choices, ensuring that Tucson is a great place to live and end well.
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