14 Companies Leading The Way In End-Of-Life Care

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Death is the only guaranteed thing in life, yet it’s the only thing we don’t adequately plan for. As a funeral professional, I’m sure this idea creates a lot of frustration for you. After all, you are the person families seek out to remember their loved one, regardless if any plans or wishes were documented.

If plans aren’t made, it’s still up to you to give the family and their loved one an honorable and meaningful end-of-life. And this isn’t just frustrating for you, it’s frustrating for your families, too. Let’s be honest, no one wants to be burdened with making such hard decisions during a time of grief. But what if I told you that thanks to the companies below, people are now beginning to think about their end-of-life wishes more and more?

See for yourself by checking out the 14 companies I believe are leading the way in end-of-life care:


#1: Fuelfor creates an innovative “Hospice Handbook”

companies-1Here are just a few of Fuelfor’s suggestions to improve hospice care around the world.

When Singapore and Barcelona-based healthcare design consultancy Fuelfor spent almost an entire year looking at hospice care and it’s issues, they found that it was an “invisible and avoided service”. That’s when they created the “Hospital Hospice Book” which, according to Fast Company, “redesigns not only the look and function of hospice care facilities, but also how hospice workers communicate with each other, how people learn about and experience the hospice process, and how people pay for care”.

Their award-winning handbook covers seven strategies they suggest will improve the overall quality of hospice care. Some of their strategies include: proposing a credit system, a newly thought out care hub, an app for patients and caregivers, among several others. To view the complete Hospice Handbook proposed by Fuelfor, click here (trust me, it’s worth reading).


#2: Aeon offers in-person “End Of Life Tours”

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One man tries out a coffin during his end-of-life seminar held by Japan’s largest retailer, Aeon. (SOURCE:Reuters/Toru Hanai)

Tours are a great way to explore something or somewhere you’re not familiar with, and now, thanks to Aeon (one of Japan’s largest shopping chains), you can take a tour of what your end-of-life could be like. This tour, called Shukatsu in Japan, offers consumers the opportunity to test out coffins, take photos for their funeral, learn how to write their own will and more. The tour even gives participants a chance to take part in a simulation where they can scatter their own “ashes” (a bag of salt). The tour is only $85, and in my opinion, well worth the money when you know you can take part of your end-of-life wishes into your own hands.


#3: Have The Talk of a Lifetime encourages a meaningful life celebration

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When Have The Talk of a Lifetime launched at NFDA last year, I was incredibly thrilled to see so many funeral service organizations coming together to support an important cause: starting those end-of-life conversations. Have The Talk of a Lifetime is composed of nearly a dozen national funeral service organizations, representing more than 16,000 people in funeral service.

The goal? According to Jessica Koth of the National Funeral Director’s Association (NFDA) , it’s to “help [funeral professionals] speak to the public with one voice and inspire families to have conversations about the importance of funeral and memorial services.” Have The Talk of a Lifetime is helping people spark the conversation about their funeral through presentations and an online downloadable workbook that offers conversation starters, worksheets and lists of questions geared towards planning a meaningful funeral that’s unique to the loved one. To view the online workbook or attend a workshop for yourself, be sure to check out their website.


#4: Vital Decisions (quite literally) gives a wake-up call to the sick and dying

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Imagine for a moment that you’re very sick (not with the flu) and your doctor has already had that dreaded conversation about end-of-life planning with you, but you haven’t chosen to do anything about it just yet. Now imagine a woman named Kate calls you and asks you questions like “When you say that getting better is the most important thing on your mind, what does that look like for you?”. The goal of Kate’s call is to get you to think about your end-of-life medical decisions, like what type of treatment you want to receive and how to manage your symptoms if or when they become worse.

Vital Decisions is made up of 50 social workers who first send out a letter, then basically cold call you to offer what they call “nondirected’ end-of-life counseling.” Although the thought of cold calling the dying could be an idea you have to get used to, Vital Decisions could be the perfect solution to the growing gap between Americans’ wishes to die at home and the reality of them dying in a hospital (according to CBS, 75% do).


#5: Everplans makes planning for the end a painless process

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Sure, starting the end-of-life conversation is important, but what about the nitty gritty details like trusts, advance directives, wills, last wishes and even the smallest details like what to do with your pets when you pass away? Co-founder of Everplans, Abby Schneiderman, learned the hard way how difficult it can be to make these decisions while dealing with the burden of losing a loved one when her brother unexpectedly passed away. According to an interview with the New York Times, she said “My brother was 51 and had all of the resources to have a plan in place. But my family was still left with a huge amount of logistics and complicated decisions that we had to make.” And that’s when she truly understood the problem her growing company was solving when it comes to losing a loved one.

According to the website, an “Everplan” is “a simple, secure way to make sure you’ve taken care of everything”. The website walks users through step-by-step to create a plan for the end in a less complicated, confusing fashion. I like to think Everplans is on their way to making the process of planning easier, cheaper, and more approachable than ever before. And as it (and other similar companies like it) grows in popularity, I’m sure it will.


#6,7,8 & 9: These companies are on a mission to help you get your affairs in order

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Just like Everplans, there are many websites out there to help consumers keep their documents, contacts, legal information and other important information in order for their family once their time comes. AfterSteps.com, Principled Heart and Organize My Affairs all are online options that allow you to store all your information and documents safely and securely online. All three require you to confirm 2-3 validators and beneficiaries to ensure your information is with the right people when it needs to be. The What If Workbook is an offline version of these websites, and this particular service offers more direction in planning your actual memorial. All of these options are great for making sure your family doesn’t experience the burden of making those hard end-of-life decisions without you.


#10  & 11: These initiatives aim to spark the conversations about death

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Similar to the initiative Have The Talk of a Lifetime, DeathWise and The Conversation Project aim to help families spark the conversation about end-of-life decisions before it’s too late. DeathWise sparked in a business meeting full of Silicon Valley execs who were looking to help people in a more personal way. “We plan for our kids’ college educations and for our retirement. Why don’t we plan for death?” they said on their reason for creating DeathWise.

The Conversation Project is a grassroots public campaign that embraces social media and community to encourage people everywhere to start thinking about their end-of-life wishes… and share them with their family. Their simple, easy to follow Conversation Starter Kit is free and packed with tons of valuable information and ways to get that end-of-life conversation started at the kitchen table in the least awkward and morbid way possible. I really enjoyed both of these, however I favor The Conversation Project because of it’s inviting design and personal approach.


#12: funeralOne helps funeral professionals encourage their families to plan ahead

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funeralOne’s website platform, f1Connect, provides families a way to research, prepare and plan their own funeral arrangements right on the funeral home’s website.

Yes, it’s true, even the funeralOne team has joined the movement of encouraging people to plan ahead. But unlike the companies mentioned above, funeralOne works with funeral professionals to help them connect with their families to pre-plan funeral services. A study done in 2012 found that 66% of Hospice and 87% of Healthcare organizations referred families to a direct cremation with no funeral service. funeralOne aims to close the gap between funeral professionals and families by providing them with free online pre-planning resources that make planning a funeral less intimidating and easier than they ever imaged. Thanks to f1Connect’s free planning resources, some funeral homes have reported up to a 2,000% increase in their pre-need leads.


And the list of end-of-life planning companies keeps growing…

These 12 companies aren’t the only ones helping people handle their end-of-life planning. Other companies like eFuneral, a content base full of resources for planning ahead and Advanced Directive, a user-friendly emergency medical directive are growing by the day.

With all of these companies popping up in the last ten years, I can’t help but think that we’re taking a step in the right direction towards getting people to think about their end-of-life. The topic of death has been avoided, disregarded and seen as “taboo” for too long. But with the effort of these companies, and with your help as a funeral professional, I truly believe we can help people die on their terms, in the most honorable, meaningful way possible. After all, if we have the power to live the life we want, we should have the power to die the way we want, too.


Take part in the end-of-life movement

Want to help lead the way in end-of-life care AND increase your pre-need leads, all while helping your families plan for the expected? Find out how you can by scheduling a free, in-depth website consultation with one of funeralOne’s Website Success Specialists. To schedule your consultation, click here or give us a call at 800-798-2575, ext. 5!


What other companies are leading the way in end-of-life care? Tell us your favorites in the comments below!

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  1. Navin

    They offer an amazing way to get your stuff together online in quick easy steps and select the family members/ loved ones who should get the information when you pass away. Also, the price is hardly 1$ for a month.

  2. funeralOne Blog » Blog Archive 4 Stats that Should Change Funeral Service But Haven't

    […] The Talk of A Lifetime and other start-ups focused on end-of-life planning are getting us on a good start, but we need to find a universally easy way for anyone to start […]