Member Spotlight: Blue Butterfly-Tidewell Hospice
About Blue Butterfly
The Blue Butterfly Family Grief Center is a program of the Empath Tidewell Grief Care Division. Our mission is to provide grief support to children and their families after a death. Our program serves children from as young as 4 years old all the way to 18, as well as their adult caregiver, which can include their parent, grandparents or other relative.
Blue Butterfly’s program is unique as the program is staffed by licensed mental health professionals and supported by specially-trained volunteers. We use clinical practices and programs shown to be effective in supporting grieving children. These grief groups not only support children, but also their caregivers in order for them to learn to deal with their grief so they in turn can help their children.
Blue Butterfly offers grief support groups at four locations across the region. Specifically in Port Charlotte, Newtown Sarasota, Lakewood Ranch and Ellenton. Children and families may enroll in a Blue Butterfly support group after the death of a significant person in their life. There is no time limit for when a family can seek services, and there is no fee for the family to participate.
In addition to peer support groups, we also offer individual and family grief counseling. Our staff of mental health professionals are available to provide case management to all of our families to walk them through anything that may pop up on their grief journey.
Blue Butterfly is grateful to be known as this region’s grief support resource for children and families. In addition to the other services mentioned, we also support the community at crisis and traumatic events that impact the community at large, schools, etc.
Interview with Danielle Visone, MSW, LCSW, Director, Blue Butterfly Family Grief Center
Q: Tell me about what problem this program/service solves?
A: Often, members of our community don’t know about the benefits for hospice care, or they don’t understand what hospice services provide for their loved ones. There is a stigma that unfortunately has led to the belief that hospice “kills” your loved one, when really our services are about providing loving care and support for families during a difficult time.
Q: Can you tell me about a specific person who has used this program?
A: Recently a young teen in our community lost her battle with a rare cancer. Her family chose to reach out to Tidewell to provide loving care as she spent her final days surrounding by family. As a society we don’t like to think about children being sick, or we tend to believe that hospice care is only available to the elderly. Tidewell had the honor of serving this young woman and ensuring she was pain free and well cared for so her family could focus on just loving her.
Q: Now that they have gone through this program, what is their life like?
A: One of the greatest benefits Tidewell offers is a full-family approach. During a loved one’s journey in our care, we also focus on providing services such as grief counseling to their family members. What really sets us apart is our Community Grief services that provide free counseling to community members who have lost someone they love, even if they didn’t utilize our hospice services. I know many of our Tidewell families appreciate the support they received during their loved one’s care.
Q: What attracted you to this cause?
A: I lost my father in 1999 to cancer and saw the invaluable support my family received at the end of his life. We benefited greatly from the care provided by phenomenal nurses.
Q: How has this changed you personally?
A: I get to share my journey every day with our wonderful community and be a resource for others. Often, I connect with individuals who think they will “never” need Tidewell’s services, but I am there for when the unexpected happens. Receiving a terminal diagnosis or watching a parent succumb to dementia is difficult, but I like our community to know that they have a strong support system waiting in the wings ready to help.
Q: What was the biggest challenge you are facing?
A: Again, the stigma around hospice care. Also, the misunderstanding between for-profit and non-profit care. Tidewell is the only non-profit hospice serving Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte, and DeSoto counties. We have a record of exceptional care that spans over 40 years. It is so important to know that as a non-profit we never turn anyone away and that our valuable services, like community grief counseling are free.
Q: What do you think other people should know about this organization?
A: We thrive because of our amazing volunteers. Sarasota draws a lot of retirees and I regularly meet individuals who are looking for a way to engage with the community. Giving your time to support someone in their end-of-life journey is so precious and valuable. There are so many ways to give back, whether you are a Veteran and want to assist with special recognition ceremonies or are a skilled knitter and want to make caps and blankets; your talents are welcomed. We could not be the amazing organization that we are without our volunteers.
Q: What goals do you have for the organization?
A: Our goal is to continue serving our community by creating a quality, dignified end-of-life experience. We are part of the Empath Health nonprofit integrated network of care supporting those living with chronic or advanced illness, and we hope to educate our community around the continued benefits of hospice care.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to share with me?
A: If anyone has any questions about Tidewell’s services, they can always call us 24/7, 365 days a year at (855) 843-3935.