​A chance to walk along the beach again. One more visit to the family’s vacation cottage. When an individual with a terminal illness has only weeks to live, it is impossible to place a value on how much it would mean to experience one of these things again. Hospice of the Western Reserve has found the next best thing. Our patients can bring these memories to life in real time through an exclusive program called A Flight to Remember.

The innovative service – the first of its kind in the United States – is offered in partnership with Aerial Anthropology, a Cleveland-based provider of aerial videography and photography. It allows our hospice patients to capture a live, bird’s-eye view of a place meaningful to them using drone technology.

How does it work? The hospice team works with patients and their families to determine the location they would like to “visit.” Fly-over zones must comply with FAA safety guidelines. At a scheduled time, the family receives an email with a link to connect to a live feed of the drone video. The hospice patient is a virtual pilot, providing direction to the drone pilot by phone about what he or she would like to see. The flight can be viewed on laptops, tablets, or a Smart TV with internet access. Experiences typically last 20 to 25 minutes.

One patient asked to have the drone fly over Punderson State Park in rural Geauga County. She and her family had enjoyed many visits there exploring the park’s trails in the warm months and sledding in the winter. Her husband, brother, daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter gathered together in her room to reminisce and enjoy the experience with her. During the live feed, she related many happy memories dating back to when she was a young girl.

Another patient who was receiving our hospice care in an assisted living community was “virtually transported” by the drone back to his old neighborhood.  He was able to view the church and  surroundings that meant so much to him and his family.

If you or a loved one are a patient of Hospice of the Western Reserve and would like to take a Flight to Remember, please contact Lori Scotese at lscotese@hospicewr.org or at 216.287.8193.