Hundreds die with dignity each year thanks to her vision

Kelley Scott, the founder and executive director of Clarehouse, believes that providing end-of-life care is a privilege.



Kelley Scott is the executive director of Clarehouse.

Valerie Grant

Kelley Scott wanted to be a nurse since she was a little girl in Oklahoma City.

“My mother and my two aunts were nurses,” she says, “and I loved the stories they told me about their nursing school days. My heart has always been in nursing.”

For her first nursing job, she had a choice between a surgical floor and oncology. Her mother advised against oncology. “She said it would be too hard on me,” Scott recalls.

Perhaps out of youthful rebellion, Scott chose the oncology job. She learned how to manage emotional attachments and establish boundaries. That has enabled her to maintain her intensity and passion for hospice work. “Providing end-of-life care,” she says, “is a privilege.”

Even with medical visits from hospice workers, many families are unable to provide the 24/7 care that enables people to die comfortably at home.

Scott had a dream of how to fill the gap. She envisioned a caring and compassionate home (not a “facility”) where guests (not “patients”) could die with dignity. What’s more, it would be free of charge. Every expert she consulted laughed at her. “It will never work,” they told her. With the support of volunteers, she did it anyway.

Today, Scott is executive director of 13-year-old Clarehouse, a 10-bedroom, wooded campus in south Tulsa where more than 300 individuals die every year surrounded by family and friends.

Education is her current passion. Scott spends time with the health care students who rotate through Clarehouse, personally urging them to find their passion. She is working to replicate the Clarehouse model for end-of-life care homes in other communities. (See her website, omega homenetwork.org.)

“Isn’t it depressing?” is the question she is asked frequently. “Clarehouse is full of light, love and laughter,” she says. “Someone dies here almost every day, but there’s so much living going on here, too.”

The need is great. “We have a tsunami of aging baby boomers,” she says. “Who will be at their bedside?”

For more information, visit clarehouse.org.

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