Homelessness is a world we see every day, 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.
The film is part of KUED’S Homeless in Utah initiative.
“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.