About This Film
Homelessness is a world we see everyday, but know little about. It wears down the mind, body, and spirit. In 2015, 92 homeless men and women died in Utah – more than half passed away in care facilities and hospitals, others in temporary housing; 39 people died in shelters, on the streets, and in crudely constructed campsites. For the homeless, death is a stark and familiar presence that lurks in back alleys, and sometimes in plain sight. Where do Utah’s homeless go when suffering at the end, in the uneasy space between life and death?
Homeless at the End, a KUED original film produced by Sally Shaum and Nancy Green, puts a much-needed human face on the challenges faced by Utah’s homeless who find themselves confronted with their mortality.
The film follows one man in particular, James Adams, through his final journey at the INN Between after his diagnosis with cancer. The film paints a touching portrait of the relationships he forms with caregivers, the other residents, and eventually with the daughter he had not seen in years.
Each person is unique, and their stories and circumstances run a wide gamut. However, the film makes the case that, regardless of the choices they have made, every human being deserves to experience the end of life with dignity.
“When Nancy and I first heard of the INN Between, we instantly knew this was a story we needed to tell,” says producer Sally Shaum. “I can’t imagine what it’s like to be ill – to be facing the end of your life, and not have a warm, safe place to stay.”
The INN Between, which officially opened August 2015, bridges the longstanding gap in end-of-life services for homeless individuals along the Wasatch Front, providing them with safety and comfort in their last days so that they don’t die alone.
While the primary focus of the INN is providing the homeless who are terminally ill a place where they can die with dignity, it also serves those who are in medical crisis.
Shot in a raw and intimate style, Homeless at the End tells the very personal stories of homeless residents’ final months and days in a unique hospice setting. The film provides a poignant account of the homeless who are physically frail and who have often been forsaken. It also highlights the important relationships that develop between residents, medical personnel, staff, and volunteers of the INN Between.
By offering a rare glimpse into the lives of the homeless as they struggle to come to terms with the end of their lives, the film shows the need for greater understanding and compassion for the terminally ill as they face the end of life.
Words from the Producers
Sally Shaum & Nancy Green
In the beginning, the process of acquiring interviews and filming at the INN Between was difficult for us. This was a sacred place--a home to folks we knew had lived hard lives. Many of them were in pain. Bringing recording gear into their space and asking for their stories didn’t feel right.
I was grateful that a resident, Jim Adams, came to us. He had heard KUED was interested in doing a documentary on the INN Between, and was so incredibly grateful to be off the streets and in a safe comfortable home, that he was willing to do whatever he could to help promote the place. He also felt needed and admired in his new role as a spokesman. It seemed as though his participation gave his life more meaning.
For the next six months, we would come to intimately know the INN Between staff and most of the residents they cared for. Jim trusted us like family and we continued to film him throughout his hospice care. But still, as he became more frail and his pain more prominent, recording him made us uneasy.
“Hi Nancy and Sally. It’s okay. You can come in,” he would whisper as the days closed in. We are so grateful for Jim, his friendship, his humor, and his courage to share his story at the end of life. We will never forget him.