Editorial from Mishelle Payne, VP of Marketing at HomeWell Care Services
Working in home care provides a quiet feeling of satisfaction and fulfillment knowing that, on some level, you are helping people age gracefully in place, regain their health, or fill a temporary but immediate need. This holds true whether you work at a corporate level, office management level, or directly with the client. But no one experiences these feelings more directly than our caregivers, and no one deserves the satisfaction more than they do.
I have worked in many industries over the years and while there is certainly a sense of pride that comes with any company who is on their own mission and searching for a job well done, I can tell you the pride pales in comparison to in-home care. Home care isn’t something the average person thinks about every day and I suspect most people don’t know much about it until they are in need of it, either for themselves or a loved one. What I’ve learned from our caregivers, either anecdotally or from seeing it first-hand, is that caregiving isn’t any old job to them; it’s a calling. And the value these individuals bring to the families they work for is immeasurable.
In-home care is more than visiting an elderly person and checking the to-do’s off a list and heading off to the next house. Our caregivers build relationships with their clients by getting to know them on a personal level. This not only provides companionship and personal fulfillment, but it allows the caregiver to better assess the needs of the client. While the majority of clients are elderly, HomeWell provides support to many adult clients under the age of 65 for a variety of reasons. Let’s take a look at a handful of caregiver scenarios:
Carol is a caregiver. This morning she’ll arrive at the home of Joe and Sondra Stewart for Couple’s Care. On the way, she stops at the local grocery to pick up some fresh produce and a handful of other pantry staples. She knows that Joe loves fresh blueberries, and when she brings them, she’s certain to hear his stories of him picking blueberries at his grandmother’s farm when he was growing up for the 50th time, but that’s okay. He’s been showing more signs of dementia lately, and the memories are good to talk about. She selects some bell peppers for Sondra—the orange ones are her favorite–and plans to make them western omelets this morning for breakfast.
After breakfast, she’ll help them place a video call to their daughter who lives two states away so they can talk to her and see their newborn grandson. Carol will complete some of her other duties while they’re on their call including laundry, kitchen clean-up, making sure the floor is clear of trip hazards, a review to make sure they’ve been on track with their medications, and takes note of what else may need to be done later in the week. When they’re done talking to their daughter, Carol spends time with them and asks questions while doing her tasks. This not only helps build their friendship, but helps Carol assess their needs and level of wellness. She preps a lunch for them and places it in the fridge before she leaves. She’ll be back in two days.
Stephen is an RN. While he works part time at a medical practice, he knows non-medical in-home care is an integral piece of the continuum of care puzzle, so he also works part time as an in-home caregiver. His current client is participating in the GoHomeWell program which helps clients get back on their feet and regain independence after a lengthy illness, hospital, or rehab facility stay.
This particular client, Robert, is only 32, but he just had Achilles surgery on his right foot, so he can’t drive. Stephen takes Robert to his post-medical check-ups and rehab appointments, picks up his prescriptions, and performs tasks around the house that are more difficult to do these days, including walking his dog. Robert has friends and family that are able to help him as their schedule allows, but he doesn’t want to impose and truly relies on Stephen who can keep a consistent and reliable schedule. Stephen’s hours with Robert will lessen over time as he regains his strength and needs less assistance. They will part ways once Robert gets the all-clear from his doctor to walk and drive safely and independently.
Stephen has assisted many clients in the past who participated in the GoHomeWell program; particularly senior and elderly patients who have been hospitalized from illness and falls.
Tanya is a caregiver who has been assisting the Harris family for the past six months. She was hired by Mrs. Harris’ daughters who live nearby and help their mother daily, but they both have young families and look to HomeWell to provide respite care. What is respite care? It’s a common industry term that most consumers may not know. In everyday layman’s terms, it’s a much-needed break from dealing with the day-to-day challenges family caregivers face.
Mrs. Harris lost her husband two years ago and her daughters have seen a steady decline in their mother’s mental and physical health ever since. The past eight months have been particularly challenging with unhealthy eating and mismanagement of her diabetes, missed medications, brief hospital stays, and even a broken shoulder from a fall. The daughters look to Tanya to assist their mother three days a week while they tend to their families at home. She helps with activities of daily living like dressing, bathing, assistance with personal hygiene, medication reminders, healthy food prep, and any other area the family needs extra support with that week. In addition to providing the in-home care that is needed, Tanya and Mrs. Harris also enjoy playing cards together, and Tanya has introduced her to the wonderful world of listening to podcasts.
These are just a few examples of how our caregivers provide home care support to the families who need us. Scenarios like these could fill a book. The home care industry and its caregivers are truly the unsung heroes of our time. From Alzheimer’s and assisting those with chronic illnesses like Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s, and ALS to the lighter side of home care like companionship and everything in between, our caregivers are there where and when they’re needed. It’s not a glamorous life, but it is a life of enrichment, purpose, and service that doesn’t receive near enough clout as it should. Perhaps the home care industry could use a writer like Nicholas Sparks to truly do it justice so America can take it all in with a box of tissues and a full heart.