UA nursing students learn compassionate care at Akron's Grace House


The School of Nursing at The University of Akron (UA) believes that nurses are the backbone of today’s health care system. And the School is dedicated to training and empowering the next generation of transformational, innovative medical leaders.

Compassionate care is one important aspect of training in the School of Nursing. Students have the opportunity to truly understand the meaning of compassion when they complete clinicals at Grace House, a comfort care home in Akron.

Grace House opened this past Labor Day weekend after almost eight years of planning. The facility, located in Akron, provides a caring environment for hospice enrolled individuals who are without a caregiver, an able caregiver or cannot afford a private caregiver. Founders Holly Klein and Cindy Browning have spent a large part of their careers working with hospice patients and Grace House is a true labor of love. It is grounded in the knowledge that there are too many individuals in the community who are at the end of life, with nowhere to go, and no one to care for them. Both believe that everyone deserves to die in the presence of care, compassion and dignity, and that no one should die alone.

UA Nursing Students Learn Compassionate Care at Grace House

The home has six beds and has had 12 residents to date. Individuals come through referrals from families, social workers, hospice and hospital systems, among others. And all care to residents is free.

The Grace House team fundraised and built the facility during the pandemic, mostly through private donors and grants. It is truly a labor of love, and UA students (and additional funders) are a welcome addition.

“Grace House gives UA students a wonderful opportunity to see compassionate care in action, and to also work on their communication skills,” said Karen Fitzgerald, a pediatric nurse practitioner who serves as a professor of instruction in the School of Nursing. “It is so important for nurses to learn to work with patients and families on a human level, and to understand how these interactions impact patient care.”

“It introduces them to more than starting IVs and being in a hospital setting,” said Browning.

“Being here marks a big transition in the life of our patients and the support our staff and the nursing students provides them with meaningful interactions that make a difference in how their day goes,” said Klein.

Sarah LaTampa, a UA nursing student from Tallmadge, Ohio, recently finished clinicals at Grace House and says it is a privilege to be able to step into someone’s life when they are facing their greatest challenge. “The focus here is compassionate and awareness. That’s hard to train. That’s hard to teach.”

According to Klein, one of the biggest fears of patients is, ‘Is anyone going to remember me?’

“Knowing that a lot of these people don’t have someone available 24/7 to care for them, you have to bring a piece of you here you probably wouldn’t have brought in a normal acute care setting,” said LaTampa. “I enjoyed this rotation. It has been eye opening.”

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