FAQs

Below is a list of our most frequently asked questions regarding our organization and programs.
If you do not find the answer you need, please contact us at info@zencaregiving.org

Table of Content




Brand and Name Change

Why are you updating the public-facing name and brand?

From our organization’s founding until September 2019, we were known as Zen Hospice Project. This name represented our work and focus for over 30 years. However, in 2018, we closed our Guest House care facility, and our focus has evolved from working solely with those approaching end-of-life to include caregivers who support those living with chronic and terminal illnesses. 

We encourage caregivers to learn emotional skills early in their caregiving journey to support well-being and provide higher quality care. We have learned that if family caregivers wait until their loved one is hospice eligible before they seek the support our courses provide, they are often already dealing with acute distress or burnout. We want to positively impact the well-being of all caregivers working in any healthcare environment. In light of our expanded focus, we believe that “hospice” in our name no longer conveys the scope of services we offer.

Also, we began hearing from many stakeholders and potential partners that the word “hospice” in our name is a barrier. If a caregiver’s loved one is recently diagnosed, it is common that they do not want to think about end-of-life or do not see “hospice” as relevant to their experience.

In light of these reasons, our mindful and compassionate approach to palliative care will always remain a core part of what we offer. We were careful to develop an informed process to find a public-facing name that reflected all of what we do while staying true to our history. While our name will legally stay Zen Hospice Project, our public-facing “brand” is now Zen Caregiving Project. 

How did you decide upon “Zen Caregiving Project?”

We worked with a non-profit brand strategy firm to explore different name options that reflected what we do. We chose Zen Caregiving Project as it incorporates three crucial elements:

Zen: Although we are not a Buddhist organization, we were founded as a project within the San Francisco Zen Center, and our teachings are rooted in Zen Buddhist principles of compassion, interconnectedness, impermanence, and the benefits of meditation.

Caregiving: Caregiving is what unites each of our organizational programs. Our approach can be of benefit to those providing care be they a volunteer at the bedside of someone at the end of life, a family caregiver caring for a partner with a chronic illness or a clinician providing care in a professional role. Caregiving is also an active term implying the reciprocal relationship between the person providing care, and the person receiving care, both playing an active role and learning from each other.

Project: This word provides continuity with our previous name. “Project” conveys the always evolving nature of our work of supporting caregivers, persons in need of care, and providing a context for public discussion of caregiving, loss, and death.

Will the Zen Hospice Project name go away completely?

No, Zen Hospice Project will remain the legal name of our organization. We recognize the powerful goodwill and brand recognition this name has garnered over the years and plan to continue to leverage it to maximize positive social impact through all our activities. While our name will legally stay Zen Hospice Project, our public-facing “brand” is now Zen Caregiving Project.

The name has so much history and such a good reputation. How are you going to make sure you don’t lose that?

Our first approach is to communicate this transition clearly so that we can bring the established reputation of Zen Hospice Project along with us as we evolve. We are proud of our heritage and history, and our work continues to draw on what we have learned and developed over the last 30 years. And, we remain committed to the philosophy of hospice. We see this development as a natural evolution rather than an abrupt change or departure. We are working hard to share that message clearly on our website and through our communications.

On a more practical note, all our Zen Hospice Project material and website links are being redirected to our new website, to catch those whom we haven’t reached with our public communication.

Why not continue to use the Zen Hospice Project name to describe the volunteer program?

There are four reasons for this.

  1. We aren’t solely working in hospices. In our current volunteer program, our volunteers serve in the Palliative Care ward at Laguna Honda Hospital. Although some patients are considered hospice eligible and are receiving end-of-life care, others have been residents there for a number of years and are receiving long-term palliative care. As our program expands, we look forward to working with other health-care providers including, but not restricted to, hospice agencies to train and manage volunteer communities.

  2. Having two working names within one organization implies separation. Two different names imply a separation between our volunteering approach and the caregiving curriculum. There is a strong synergy between the volunteer caregiving program and the public education program. Our mindful caregiving education evolved out of and remains grounded in our world-renowned volunteer training. We want people to see the interdependency that links all our offerings together. Mindfulness and compassion are woven into everything we do.

  3. We want to create a strong brand and identity that people associate with our values of Service, Connection, Universality of loss, Spirituality, Compassion, and Mindfulness. Having two names within one brand can weaken the strength and recognition of both.

  4. We want our volunteers to be able to introduce themselves and use the organization name in any setting. The new public-facing name will not cause distress to patients or family members not yet ready to think about hospice or are from a culture in which the word “hospice” holds a negative connotation.

How will potential volunteers interested in serving persons at end-of-life/hospice find us?

During any rebranding, there’s a concern that people will have trouble finding relevant and useful content and resources. We share those concerns with you, and we have worked hard to make sure our training, content, and web presence is accessible and easy to find.

  • Relevant online content
    We will continue to create relevant online content and courses so that those searching end-of-life terms, or for hospice volunteer programs will be able to find us easily online.
  • Public engagement
    We will continue to hold volunteer trainings, attend local and national events, and take advantage of opportunities that will bring us face to face with the public.
  • Partners and stakeholders
    Our work with partners and stakeholders will continue, and we will leverage those opportunities to publicize the volunteer program, share upcoming opportunities, and promote ways to engage us.
  • Social media outreach
    We continue to build our social media presence and increase the exposure to our programs while providing a channel for online engagement.
  • Online advertising
    Using online advertising allows us to actively reach members of the community interested in mindful caregiving and end of life resources.





General FAQs

Do you still provide hospice services?

Zen Hospice Project suspended caregiving services at the Guest House residential care facility in San Francisco in September 2018. The Guest House was sold in October 2018, and we no longer offer any direct residential care. We encourage those looking for support with palliative and hospice care to look at our Resource Pages.

Although we don’t provide residential care, we still train and manage volunteer caregivers serving on the 59-bed Palliative Care Ward of Laguna Honda Hospital.

How are you connected to the SF Zen Center?

The organization was founded as part of the San Francisco Zen Center before it incorporated as a separate 501c3 non-profit organization in 1988. After more than 30 years, the long-standing relationship between the two organizations continues. Paul Haller, a leading SFZC teacher, and its former abbot, is a member of our board of directors. Senior SFZC teachers have been regular presenters at our volunteer community meetings. Many of our volunteers come to us through their relationship to the center. And, current and former Zen Hospice Project staff are involved in the creation of an SFZC project to create a zen-inspired senior living community in Sonoma County.

Do I need to be a Buddhist to attend one of your courses?

No. Zen Caregiving Project welcomes persons of all spiritual and faith traditions into its various programs and also welcomes those with no spiritual beliefs or practices.

Do I need to have any background in meditation to participate?

No. We welcome participants even if they have no prior experience with meditation. Our instructions are intended to be fundamental. Even if you are a beginner, we will support you to feel at ease with meditation and mindfulness practice. Long-time meditation practitioners will find our courses engaging and supportive. 

Can you recommend any other resources to support me?

You can find a range of other resources on our Resources page. The page has links to information on Family Caregiver support, Palliative Care services, Advance Care Planning, Meditation, and several other topics.

If I am unable to volunteer or attend a course how, can I support the mission of Zen Caregiving Project?

You can help us spread the word about our work. If you know a caregiver who would benefit from our courses, please let them know about us. We are a 501c3 non-profit, and we depend upon the financial support of individuals like you who care about caregiving and end-of-life issues. Please consider supporting us with a financial gift today.





Mindful Caregiving Education FAQs

What is Mindful Caregiving Education?

Mindful Caregiving Education is our public education program, including courses that teach a mindful, compassionate, and human-centered approach to care. All our courses introduce participants to mindfulness-based approaches and tools to help build their emotional resilience and work with stress. The courses are run with groups, allowing participants to share their stories, be witnessed, and build a supportive community.

What different classes do you run as part of Mindful Caregiving Education?

We have Foundations of Mindful Caregiving is for anyone who is looking to engage deeply in a holistic approach to caregiving.  We run Mindful Family Caregiving courses that are tailored specifically to those who were, are or anticipate becoming caregivers for family or friends. We also run tailored courses for partners and organizations that can be customized to focus on particular areas of support. All of our offerings are either conducted in-person or online.

How is Mindful Caregiving Education different from caregiving courses at other organizations?

Mindful Caregiving Education courses are unique in the combination of their three core elements:

  • Our courses use mindfulness-based approaches and activities,
  • We focus on building the emotional skills and resilience of caregivers; and
  • Our courses have teachings on the universal experience of loss integrated throughout.

Do your courses teach caregivers any patient care skills?

The courses do not focus on the daily hands-on skills of caregiving, such as transferring, bathing, or feeding.  Being with other caregivers offers opportunities to discuss challenges and best practices related to patient care skills.

Who are your instructors?

Our instructors have been trained by Zen Caregiving Project, either in the role of volunteer caregiver or staff, or both. Our instructors also have specialized experience in areas related to “mindful caregiving,” but outside their service with the organization. You can read more about our instructors on our Team page

Typically how many participants do you have in your courses?

Our courses range from 8 to 25 people in a class. We value the intimacy of small class sizes.

Is it possible to hold an exclusive class for my organization or facility?

If your organization is interested in us leading a course at your facility, we can accommodate a larger group. And, we can customize a class to your particular needs. Please fill out our enquiry form, and we’ll get back to you.

For in-person courses, do you serve any meals or snacks during the courses?

Light snacks and hot beverages will be available throughout the day(s). Participants are responsible for providing their own lunch. You can bring your own lunch, or there are restaurants around our venues where you can purchase a meal. Typically, participants will have at least one hour for lunch.

Do you issue continuing education units (CEUs) for the course?

We are accredited with the California Board of Nursing to issue nine continuing education units (CEUs) to any registered nurses or licensed vocational nurses who complete our two-day in-person Foundations of Mindful Caregiving course. If you are unsure if your board will accept our CEUs, please contact your licensing board.

Why are CEUs only available for the Foundation courses and not for other courses and workshops you offer?

For credits to be awarded, the course must meet the criteria set by the California Board of Nursing. The two-day in-person Foundations course is the only course which meets all of these criteria.

Do I need to have any background in meditation to participate?

No. We welcome participants even if they have no prior experience with meditation. Our instructions are intended to be fundamental. Even if you are a beginner, we will support you to feel at ease with meditation and mindfulness practice. Long-time meditation practitioners will find our courses engaging and supportive.

Is it okay for me to participate if I am not a Buddhist?

Absolutely. Zen Caregiving Projects welcomes persons of all spiritual and faith traditions into its various programs and also welcomes those with no spiritual beliefs or practices.

Are your courses appropriate for someone who is not currently in the role of caregiver?

Our Foundations of Mindful Caregiving is open to all and is a wonderful opportunity to explore feelings and thoughts around caregiving. It’s also a great time to prepare for when caregiving for a loved one becomes necessary. Sooner or later, we all will be in the role of caregiver. We have also found that our courses are a very supportive way of providing for essential self-care regardless of your occupation.

Our Mindful Family Caregiving course is designed for current, recent, or future family caregivers.

Are your courses appropriate if I am dealing with a terminal illness?

Typically, yes. We recommend that you contact us to discuss the details of your circumstances or any special needs. Please reach us at education@zencaregiving.org, and a team member will contact you.

I’m having trouble booking a course. What should I do?

Please contact us directly at education@zencaregiving.org.

What is your cancellation policy?

The following applies to all of our in-person and online courses and workshops:

  • Please consider your availability carefully to attend the entire course for which you are registering. Each course is carefully designed, and full participation is important.
  • If you are unable to attend the course you’ve registered for, we are happy to offer you a one-time transfer of your registration to another course, if space is available.
  • For a full refund, we require notification no later than five (5) business days prior to the course.
  • Cancellations within five (5) days of a course will not be eligible for a refund; however, we are happy to offer you a one-time transfer of your registration to another course, if space is available.

How do you know if your courses have an impact?

We have a clear model for how our courses have an impact and collect evaluation data after each course we run. Currently, we have trained over 2,000 people through our courses. Ninety percent of those we surveyed would recommend the course, and ninety percent suggest it will positively change the care they provide. For more detail on our model and evaluation approach, see our evidence page.

Would you come to our organization and offer the MCE courses?

We would love to. Please fill in this enquiry form, and we’ll get back to you.  You can also view our Partners page, which provides examples of how we have provided tailored courses to organizations. 





Volunteer Caregiving Program FAQs

What is the Volunteer Caregiver commitment?

Our Volunteer Caregivers commit to one year of service. This commitment includes one weekly shift of five hours (morning, afternoon, or evening), one day per week (weekdays and weekends). Shift assignments are the same week-to-week. In addition, Volunteer Caregivers commit to participating in monthly Community Meetings held on the first Tuesday of each month from 6:45 pm to 9:00 pm. We invite all volunteers to twice-yearly meditation retreats with a teacher from one of many spiritual traditions. During the first six months of service, volunteers must also attend all additional training sessions.

What if I’m not a Zen Buddhist?

We welcome people from all spiritual traditions and wish to encourage a pluralistic community. As Buddhist practice forms the basis of our approach, we nurture a community where contemplative practice is a core value.

Do I need to have medical experience to be a Volunteer Caregiver?

No. Volunteers work with a team of skilled professionals who provide the specific medical and clinical services of palliative care. The volunteer contribution to the palliative caregiving community is not medical but rather psychosocial, providing compassionate companionship, and a listening heart.

I volunteered in the past and want to come back. How can I start up again?

Former Zen Hospice Project Volunteers are welcome to find a place in our current community. As change is frequent in the care environments we serve, you will be asked to participate in workshop-style training to provide you the latest information needed to serve effectively. To begin volunteering again, you will need to complete a Volunteer Caregiver application and interview with Alistair Shanks, Volunteer Programs Manager.

Are there other ways to volunteer besides as Volunteer Caregiver?

Yes, through our partnership with the Bloom Project. Participation requires a short training, and weekly volunteering on Mondays, from 10 am – noon, at Laguna Honda Hospital. If you are interested in applying to be a Bloom Project volunteer, please email alistair@zencaregiving.org.

Can I be a Volunteer Caregiver to fulfill a degree program’s clinical hours requirement?

No. We welcome persons currently enrolled in educational programs; however, the Volunteer Caregiving Program cannot be used to meet clinical hours requirements.

How do I apply for the next Volunteer Caregiving training?

We invite you to apply through a form to take time to reflect on what volunteering in a palliative care setting means to you. Please share only your heartfelt and considered responses. A link to the application form will be posted on the website from mid-December to the end of February during our open enrollment period.

When do I apply for the Volunteer Caregiver training?

We accept applications only during our Open Enrollment period, which runs from mid-December to the end of February. During that time, we will post a link to our online application on this page. We recommend early applications, as the number of participants in each training is limited. We consider applications in the order they are received. Applications received after our review period will be held for the following training.

Where does the Volunteer Caregiver training take place?

The training usually occurs at Laguna Honda Hospital in San Francisco.

How much does the Volunteer Caregiver training cost?

There is a tiered fee structure, which covers a portion of the costs for our comprehensive training. The fee tiers are $250, $300, and $350; self-determined according to the ability to pay. Fees are payable after acceptance, and payment plans can be arranged. Noone turned away for lack of funds.

What happens after I apply?

Our Volunteer Program Manager will review your application. For selected applicants, we then schedule in-person interviews in advance of the next training. We base acceptance into the program on your application and interview. An important aspect of a candidate’s application is the reasonability of their ability to keep the required commitment. Upon review of your application, we will contact you for one of the following reasons:

  • To schedule an interview to determine if you will be joining the next training.
  • To indicate that the training cohort is already full and that we will forward your application to a future training session.
  • To indicate that we have declined your application.





Partnership FAQs

I’m an organization/ individual that would like to sponsor a Mindful Caregiving Education course for a group of people. How much does it cost?

We love offering customized courses but as a small non-profit we require that our partner organizations fund and manage them:

  • Our base fee for a one-day course for 20 people is $2,000 + travel expenses .
  • You must have a contact person who can manage the set-up and recruitment for the course.
  • If the course is in-person you will need a venue for the course to be run in.

Would you partner with us on a grant to cover the costs of the training?

As a small non-profit ourselves we have limited capacity to be involved in any substantial grant writing but we could provide you with any information you need to submit a grant to raise funds for the training. Good luck!

If the above requirements can be arranged, then we can then get going on designing the course that is right for you.

To discuss arrangements or to ask questions, please get in touch with us via our enquiry form, and a staff person will get back in touch with you.


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