Transitions LifeCare – News

News and Events

In the news


Social Work Today: Helping Clients Heal After the Loss of a Beloved Animal

Archived articles


Veterans Memorial Garden Dedication Ceremony (05/24/2014)

Why the Name Change from Hospice of Wake County to Transitions LifeCare? (4/30/14)

End-of-Life Care (Caring Matters by Guiding Lights, 5/12)

The 4 Things That Matter Most (Dr. Ira Byock discusses what matters most to people who are dying, 12/28/11)

Can Open End-of-Life Conversations Reduce Stress? (ABC News, 12/28/10)


Philanthropy newsletter

December 2016

Hand in Hand
Winter 2017

Related links

Transitions LifeCare is an independent organization that is not officially governed by any local, state or national organization. It is, however, affiliated with many resource organizations and is certified by the Accreditation Commission for Home Care (ACHC).

American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine

The Academy is the professional organization for physicians specializing in hospice and palliative medicine. Membership is also open to nurses and other healthcare providers who are committed to improving the quality of life of patients and families facing life-threatening or serious conditions.

Association for Death Education and Counseling

The Association for Death Education and Counseling (ADEC) is a professional organization dedicated to promoting excellence and recognizing diversity in death education, care of the dying, grief counseling, and research in thanatology. Based on quality research and theory, the association provides information, support and resources to its international, multicultural, multidisciplinary membership and through it, to the public.

Association for Home & Hospice Care of North Carolina

The Association for Home & Hospice (AHHC) represents more than 600 licensed agencies across North Carolina, providing health and health-related services in the home and community. It is one of the oldest and the largest organizations of its kind in the nation.

Caring Connections

Caring Connections, a weekly radio show (Chapelboro, 97.9FM), aims to educate listeners to improve the quality of life for families, professional caregivers, and people afflicted with chronic conditions.

Center to Advance Palliative Care

When you are facing a serious illness, you need relief from symptoms.  You need to better understand your condition and choices for care. You need to improve your ability to tolerate medical treatments. And, you and your family need to be able to carry on with everyday life. This is what palliative care can do.

Growth House, Inc.

Growth House’s primary mission is to improve the quality of compassionate care for people who are dying through public education and global professional collaboration.

Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association

Established in 1986, the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association is the nation's largest and oldest professional nursing organization dedicated to promoting excellence in hospice and palliative nursing care.

Hospice Foundation of America

Hospice Foundation of America exists to help those who cope personally or professionally with terminal illness, death and the process of grief and bereavement.

Hospice Net

Hospice Net provides information and support to patients and families facing life-threatening illnesses. Hospice Net is an independent, nonprofit 501(c)3 organization. We do not accept advertising and are funded entirely by unsolicited private donations.

National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization

NHPCO’s mission is to create an America where every individual can value the experience of the end of life.

Palliative Care Network

Palliative Care Network provides a platform for palliative care professionals to teach, interact, and exchange ideas with fellow colleagues in places around the world where the knowledge gap is wider than the technology gap.

Partnership for Caring: America’s Voices for the Dying

Caring Connections, a program of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO), is a national consumer and community engagement initiative to improve care at the end of life, supported by a grant from The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Senior Resource Alliance of the Triangle (SRA)

The Senior Resource Alliance (SRA) of the Triangle is made up of professionals from around the Triangle who are well known and respected in the senior community. The SRA of the Triangle is an organization that is a source of ethical, competent, trusted resources, and solutions for seniors.

Surviving Spouse Support Group

The Surviving Spouse Support Group fills in the gap where military life ends, and a new normal begins. A military widow/widower means being misunderstood by friends and family; we are often left behind and forgotten. SSSG seeks to promote healing and strength by reaching out to widows/widowers of spouses who died serving our Nation. SSSG is designed for the younger generation of military Surviving Spouse, and for every branch of the Armed Forces, including the National Guard and Coast Guard.

United Way of the Greater Triangle

United Way of the Greater Triangle (UWGT) brings together local community partners in Durham, Orange, Johnston, and Wake counties: member agencies, nonprofits, government volunteers and experts to focus on lasting changes, not temporary fixes to key issues.

Wake County Community Resource Connections for Aging and Disabilities

Wake CRC is a network of local nonprofit and community agencies working together to provide easy access to aging and disability information and services.

Press room

Media Contact:

Darcy Dye Bowers, Sr. Comm and PR Manager
office 919-828-0890
cell 919-749-3088

Transitions LifeCare, Founded as Hospice of Wake County in 1979

Hospice of Wake County was founded to provide physical, emotional and spiritual care to those living with an advanced illness, their caregivers, and those who have lost a loved one – regardless of age, race, religion or financial circumstances. Now known as Transitions LifeCare, we have changed what we are called, not who we are. Our mission and vision are unchanged and we remain a local, non-profit serving patients regardless of their ability to pay.

Our service area includes Wake, Johnston, Franklin, Durham, and Harnett counties, as well as southeast Orange County (Chapel Hill and Carrboro) and eastern Chatham County. Guided by community-based boards of directors and supported by a dedicated professional staff, our goal is to provide compassionate hospice care that allows patients to enjoy every moment of their lives to the fullest.

Transitions LifeCare is the oldest, largest and most experienced hospice organization in the area. Since 1979, we have provided compassionate end-of-life care and have earned a reputation for outstanding professional expertise in helping families experience quality of life . . . throughout life.

Today, our professional staff and trained volunteers provide expert medical care and supportive services to more than 1,500 families each year. To help meet the complex needs of families, these services include: counseling support for families, short-term respite care, spiritual care and counseling, volunteer support, bereavement care, transitional home health care, palliative care, hospice, and end-of-life education.

Our goal is to ensure that our families...

  • Receive the pain control and symptom management appropriate for their physical, emotional, spiritual, and cultural needs.
  • Attain peace of mind about death and dying.
  • Acquire coping skills with the help of our caring and professional support.
  • Plan ahead so wishes are honored.

"Transitions LifeCare is a beacon for end-of-life care in our community. As the largest provider of end of life care in Wake County, we are developing partnerships with healthcare professionals, faith communities, and community volunteers to ensure access to quality end of life care to all."

--John Thoma, CEO

Our Philosophy

Every individual deserves the quality of life that he or she wants near life's end. Although we receive reimbursement from Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance, no family is ever denied care due to lack of a payor source.

Transitions LifeCare’s staff includes physicians, spiritual care counselors, bereavement counselors, nurses, nursing assistants, clinical counselor and social workers, trained volunteers, nutritionists, physical, occupational and speech therapists.

Contact Us

You can reach us using any of the following information:

Key Facts and Figures

  • Memberships, accreditations, and licenses
    • Accredited by Accreditation Commission for Health Care (ACHC); Medicare- and Medicaid-accredited, licensed and certified
    • Member of National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO), Association for Home and Hospice Care (AHHC), United Way of the Greater Triangle (UWGT), and local Chambers of Commerce
  • Transitions LifeCare…
    • Oldest and most experienced hospice provider in Wake County region, providing services for patients and their families since 1979.
    • Only non-profit hospice provider based in the Wake County region; a United Way of the Greater Triangle Agency of Excellence.
    • Serves Wake, Franklin, Johnston, Durham, and Harnett Counties, as well as southeast Orange County and eastern Chatham County
    • Strong base of specially-trained, active volunteers.
    • Volunteer board of directors that includes leaders from both the medical and business community.
  • Transitions GriefCare is the bereavement program for adults and children. Staffed by master’s level, experienced counselors with expertise in grief and loss. Services available even if family member did not receive Hospice services.
  • Funding breakdown for 2013: 92% patient revenue, 8% community support. No one is denied services because of inability to pay.
  • Patient diagnoses: 2.3% failure to thrive/debility, 40.5% cancer, 19.7% neurological, 6.9% lung, 12.8% heart, 17.8% all others.
  • Average daily census = 356.

Team Approach

  • Highly credentialed and experienced staff includes physicians, registered nurses, licensed clinical social workers, spiritual care counselors, certified bereavement counselors, and volunteers.
  • Dedicated services available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for patients wherever they live (e.g., private home, assisted living facility, skilled nursing facility).
  • Patient and families decide their goals for care and select the services and frequencies that can best help them achieve these goals.

Volunteer Opportunities

  • Volunteers are provided with training related to the opportunity they select.
  • Volunteers having direct contact with the patients and their families complete 18 hours of training that focuses on an understanding of hospice care, being part of the care team, communication and listening skills, and self-care.
  • Office volunteers complete a 10-hour orientation to Transitions LifeCare with additional training provided for their particular task.
  • Volunteers also receive ongoing support and education through a mentor program and monthly meetings.
  • A person who wishes to become a volunteer must complete an application, which will be followed by a personal meeting with the Volunteer Services Team Leader. All volunteers must supply reference information and authorize a background check.


  • Admin building opened November 2009 and hospice home opened January 2010:
    • 48,079 square feet comprised of an administrative and community building with 27,467 sq ft., the spiritual sanctuary with 1047 sq. ft., and the hospice home with 19,565 sq ft. on 8 acres of land
    • 14 in-patient beds for those with acute needs
    • 6 residential beds for those for whom home care is not appropriate
    • Plans underway for 10-bed expansion in 2015-16
  • Environmentally-conscious:
    • Storm water conservation system includes a cistern that captures and recycles up to 50,000 gallons of storm water runoff and air conditioner condensation
    • Compact florescent, traditional florescent and LED lights
    • Maximized sunlight through use of windows and cupolas
    • Windows that open allowing for natural ventilation
    • Low-E windows
    • Additional building insulation in walls and on exterior surface to increase energy efficiency and reduce environmental impact of ongoing operation
    • Heat pumps with exterior thermostats for improved efficiency and patient comfort

Executive Team


[1977] Dr. Billy Dunlap, a hematologist and oncologist in Raleigh, reads an article on the hospice movement. He realizes the need for services for terminal patients in the Triangle. He attends an organizational meeting of a grassroots movement for hospice care in the Triangle also attended by Kathleen Townsend, a primary-care nurse at Rex Hospital. They become the founding members of the first Board of Directors of Hospice of Wake County, along with Derenda James, a nurse at Wake Med.

[1979] Hospice of Wake County is started by Dr. Dunlap, with one staff member and 20 volunteers. The first patient is admitted, a young child with leukemia. Five more patients are served that year.

[1980-2000] Hospice of Wake County institutes a popular annual fundraiser, Oktoberfest.

[1988] Hospice of Wake County receives Medicare.

[1989] Hospice of Wake County has 25 staff members and 227 volunteers, serves 257 patients, and makes 9,600 patient visits.

[1990] Hospice of Wake County’s yearly budget exceeds $1 million for the first time.

[1992] Home health program launched. Hospice of Wake County Board of Directors creates Hospice of Wake County Foundation, Inc.

[1993] Hospice of Wake County’s Reflections program, a child-focused grief counseling service, is initiated.

[1999] Hospice of Wake County has 60 staff members and 250 volunteers, serves 690 patients, and makes 23,700 patient visits.

[2005] Palliative care program launched. Marketing begins on Build Hospice capital campaign private phase.

[2007] North Carolina’s Council of State awards 8.7 acres of land for the area’s first independent, free-standing hospice facility to be built off Trinity Road, Cary.

[2009] Hospice of Wake County celebrates 30 years on February 6 with staff, volunteers, Board members and special guests. In attendance were two of the founders, Dr. Billy Dunlap and Kathleen Townsend.

[2010] Hospice of Wake County opens the area's first freestanding hospice facility. Hospice of Wake County is inducted into the Raleigh Hall of Fame.

[2011] Hospice of Wake County and Hospice of Harnett County merge to enhance access to non-profit hospice care.

[2011] On May 24, Hospice of Wake County's campus was dedicated as the Reid S. Towler Campus, thanks to the generosity of Mr. Towler and his $1 million gift in 2010.

[2011] Hospice of Harnett County celebrates 25 years on November 6 with staff, volunteers, Board members and special guests.

[2012] HOWC surpasses 300 hospice patients on daily census for the first time.

[2012] Adult bereavement services now offered in Harnett, Johnston counties.

[2013] Board of Directors approves name change to Transitions LifeCare to better reflect offerings of more than "hospice" care and service to patients well beyond "Wake County." HOWC named a 2013 Hospice Honors recipient, recognizing it as one of the top 100 agencies nationwide.

[2014] HOWC changes name to Transitions LifeCare. Construction of Veterans Garden to honor those who have so bravely served in the military. Earned honorable mention - best charity in The Maggy Awards "Best of Western Wake." Guiding Lights and Transitions LifeCare formed a partnership designed to improve efficiencies of both independent organizations.

[2015] Guiding Lights Caregiver Support Center becomes known locally as Transitions GuidingLights. Transitions LifeCare and the University of North Carolina begin fellowship in Hospice and Palliative Medicine. Transitions Kids introduced. Transitions LifeCare #49 on TBJ's Fast 50.

[2016] Dr. Billy Dunlap receives Searstone's Ageless Hero Lifetime Achievement Award. Six million dollar campaign completed, allowing for construction of 10 additional rooms in Hospice Home. Transitions HomeHealth named a 2016 HHCAHPS Honors elite recipient. Transitions LifeCare #32 on TBJ's Fast 50.


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