By Charlie Inglefield
The new Hospiz Zentralschweiz is due to open on 6 January 2020 in Luzern’s Littau suburbs. The story behind the creation of this hospice is a remarkable one, given that it is an entirely privately funded project and based on a dream of two people who had never previously met before January 2014. Introduced by the director of Palliativ Zug, Birgit Hermes at a networking event, Hans Peter Stutz and Sibylle Jean-Petit-Matile just clicked.
“It was a perfect match and after a couple of minutes we knew we could trust each other”, said Sibylle.
In that first meeting a vision was born to build a hospice, which could serve central Switzerland’s cantons. As Hans Peter mentioned, palliative care in Switzerland is limited, particularly so for families who struggle to afford this type of care.
“There is little palliative help in Switzerland despite the many hospitals we have in the country.“
Finding the perfect location
Sibylle, a physician and Hans Peter, a successful businessman immediately set about creating their perfect hospice site. As Hans Peter put it, “Our vision was to have a house, not a typical hospital that can be depressing for a visitor”.
Starting with no money and just a dream, Sibylle and Hans Peter looked at many properties across Zug and Lucerne before finally falling for a former doctor’s house in Littau, Luzern.
‘The house found us” says Sibylle.
Disused for the last 20 years and in desperate need of a complete overhaul, the property was perfect for Sibylle and Hans Peter’ idea of having a ‘home away from home’.
“We wanted to create a home and to give visitors a positive experience. None of those big white doors that can be intimidating, or doctors with white gowns.”
The kindness of strangers
Every last detail has been accounted for thanks to the tireless fundraising efforts of Hans Peter and Sibylle, a loyal support team and initial funding from a private person. The total rebuilding process when finished would have cost CHF 7.5m. Hans Peter and Sibylle have managed to raise a lot of money that is needed to realize the hospice.
Both Hans Peter and Sibylle plan to create a unique offering and not be seen just as a traditional hospice. The hospice will contain 12 single rooms that strengthen their goal of treating each patient as an individual.
“We put the emphasis on not just the patient but their families and relatives. For example we will provide a day-care centre where the patient can rest and speak to our network of specialists (nurses/a priest/psychiatrist) so family members can rest also.”
The hospice also provides a support service once their loved one has died through the strong network of helpers they have onsite. Significantly Hans Peter and Sibylle have recognized a crucial gap that exists within Switzerland’s current palliative care system.
“After 15 days in hospital the patient has to head home – either into home-care or an old people’s home. This is the gap. We can provide that support at our hospice.”
A lot more support from within Switzerland is necessary
There are challenges that Hans Peter and Sibylle continue to face on a daily basis. Politics, a reliance on foreign investment and the healthcare system are chief among them.
The subject of death is not an attractive topic of conversation and for that reason alone; people shy away from it let alone prioritize investment. Compare the financial and facilities support that are available when bringing a life into the world as Sibylle points out.
“Death is a part of life and we want to stress the importance of the end of life phase through a community driven initiative like this.”
Health insurance and the paths available at the palliative care stage remain complicated. It can be as much as CHF 7,500 per month at a hospice and this is why Hans Peter and Sibylle have created a special fund currently at CHF 250,000 which will be made available to people who cannot afford hospice fees. Their objective is to make sure that their hospice is available to anyone, regardless of wealth or supposed standing.
They will welcome their first ‘Kings and Queens’ on 6 January 2020, six years on from when Hans Peter and Sibylle first met. Their motivation of helping people who are less fortunate than others is about to be achieved.
Natalie Albrecht who is the Founder of Zug4you and an entrepreneur based in Zug is acting as an ambassador on behalf of the Hospice. Natalie is helping raise funds and can be contacted on email@example.com.
If you would like to donate or would like to find out more, please visit their website:
This article was kindly contributed by Charlie Inglefield.