A home from home at the end of life

Full annual reports (in French only) are available on request to La Maison de Tara. 


A-M StruijkPresident's report for 2014

Palliative care calls into serious question our present societal norms on numerous levels - expertise, speed, performance, results and esthetics - while raising other issues such as interaction, presence, care, and responsibility.  La Maison de Tara is part of this broad perspective, accompanying residents and their loved ones with its team of volunteers, both men and women, whose work fosters the role of civil society in the journey towards the end of life.  This shared journey creates a close relationship between carers and residents which benefits all.  The residents and their relatives benefit from such caring support in a welcoming environment, while the volunteers have the opportunity to enlarge their life experience, which brings benefits for their own families and friends.  We therefore feel justified in believing that this approach offers a little less fear of death, together with a little more support and serenity. 

At the beginning of 2014, the Board undertook an in-depth analysis of the three years of La Maison de Tara’s existence.  We sent questionnaires to the volunteers and the doctors involved, and carried out interviews with the Tara staff, as well as with representatives of the various home help organizations with which we collaborate.  The results of this enquiry encouraged us to make a number of organizational changes, particularly in respect of increasing the nursing capaciy.   

After three years in operation, we are clear that residents and their loved ones are extremely appreciative of the kind and familial atmosphere of Tara.  And this year,  the results of a questionnaire sent to all families after the death of a resident show an even greater level of appreciation than before.  They particularly stress the quality time they can spend with their relative, instead of the chores and problem-solving so much an inevitable part of care in the home.  A very moving video account by one of our residents and her daughter of their experience is available on our website (www.lamaisondetara.ch/testimonials). 

Concerts, birthdays, and evening celebrations have been organized by and for our residents and their loved ones.  These festivities show that La Maison de Tara provides a suitable environment for celebrating life, with its pains and pleasures, right up until the last days.The number of « trial stays » has doubled since their initiation in 2013. Their purpose is   to provide potential residents with an opportunity to discover how La Maison de Tara functions before they reach the final stages of their lives.  Some then return home while they can, while others decide to stay on to enjoy the quality of life Tara offers.

More than a hundred volunteers carry out a wide variety of tasks related to residents’ and families’ needs and wishes, in close collaboration with the formal staff.  A dozen volunteers look after the gardens – a source of peace and pleasure for everyone at the house. 

During a two-day seminar hosted by Webster University, we had the privilege of welcoming Mrs Christine Longaker, whose book « Finding Hope in the Face of Death » has been translated into 23 languages.  With her, we deepened our ability to show compassion both to ourselves and others,  increasing our personal understanding of our residents’ needs and the most suitable ways of being present for them in the face of distress and suffering.   

In May, to fund-raise and promote the hospice, sponsored runners in Tara T-shirts -  organized by a family member of one of our residents - participated in the Geneva Marathon.  As last year, the Holy Trinity English Church organized a lottery in support of our foundation.  The American International Club selected La Maison de Tara as its main fund-raising focus for 2014, and the Geneva Amateur Operatic Society invited a member of the Board to an event to publicize our work.  This created support and solidarity amongst the international community for a very Genevois cause ! 

It goes without saying that the present economic climate makes the identification of major donors more difficult, so we are even more grateful to those who remain supportive over the years.  It is also reassuring to note that even modest donations increase year by year, providing significant sums over time.  Such donations are also valued in respect of the ever-closer links they create between La Maison de Tara and the whole Genevois community. 

Higher visibility within the Geneva care system will allow us to welcome a greater number of residents in the coming year.  Our collaboration with the Direction de la Santé of the Canton of Geneva is more and more active, as La Maison de Tara represents, in their eyes, an interesting alternative to the usual hospitalization of patients arriving at this phase of life.  A video presentation of La Maison de Tara (French only) is now available on the website www.palliativegeneve.ch, section ‘Particuliers’.     

While the major role played by La Maison de Tara in the lives of residents has been evident from the outset, the year 2014 has allowed us to demonstrate more clearly its many benefits to their families and friends.

Anne-Marie Struijk-Mottu
President,  La Maison de Tara Foundation  

About us

La Maison de Tara was founded in Geneva in 2007 as a public utility charity in the lineage of the Hospice Movement. Its goal is to provide patients and their family, with care and support during the last days of life.

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La Maison de Tara
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