The Hospice of Baton Rouge has a long-term vision to expand its reach beyond traditional bereavement programs. The nonprofit is eager to help anyone, of any age, in the community manage and process their grief regardless of the cause.
“There’s a much bigger need to address the issue of grief in our community,” says Chief Operating Officer Jeff Williams. “It’s something that can impact any facet of our community, especially in light of what we’ve been through because of the pandemic and recent natural disasters.”
The Hospice of Baton Rouge is proactively tackling this problem beyond the traditions of counseling. Denise Domingue, Director of Community Out-reach and leader of bereavement services, says a prime example is the children’s program, Camp Conquer. The program was initially launched in response to the flood of 2016 to provide grief support services to children affected by the loss of their homes.
Domingue says the five-day camp carefully tackles the complex emotions related to grief in group sizes averaging between 50 and 60 children. “We’ll teach them about anger, fear, and other difficult emotions, and how to deal with them in constructive ways … all through a variety of fun activities,” Domingue says. Teaching these children valuable life skills coupled with language and tactics that they can understand and apply on their own is essential for the program’s mission.
They also provide equine therapy for smaller groups of eight to ten children who have suffered a recent loss. Equine therapy, also known as Equine-Assisted Therapy (EAT), uses the connection between people and horses to promote healing and emotional under-standing. Horses are extremely intelligent creatures that can help patients recognize their feelings towards traumatic events. Some of the skills this method can teach or improve include confidence, self-efficiency, trust, perspective, social skills, impulse control, and building boundaries. Like Camp Conquer, the lessons learned here will help children cope with day-to-day interactions while battling grief.
Outside of child-focused treatments, traditional adult programs are also being expanded in numbers and frequency. The Hospice of Baton Rouge offers both support groups and individual counseling
for a range of topics. Led by licensed master social worker and bereavement Group Facilitator Chris-tine Brasseaux, these programs are offered monthly or in a series of weeks, depending on the focus. To accommodate COVID-friendly conditions, virtual appointments are welcomed while in-person sessions are also available. For family and loved ones of hospice patients, trained social workers provide support for up to 13 months following the death of a patient or as long as needed. The Hospice of Baton Rouge has options for a wide variety of needs to reach as many community members as possible.
The organization’s continued growth furthers its mission to serve the community intentionally and thoroughly. Learn more about support services or volunteer opportunities at www.hospicebr.org or call 225.767.4673.