Wednesday, March 4, 2009

When the "Pro" becomes the family caregiver

Wendy Finch is our Vice President of Business Development. She’s been with the company for over 12 years.

But two years ago, she became a family caregiver.

Her mom’s mother, Wendy’s grandmother, became ill and needed a little help with her daily activities. She wanted to stay at home – no, she insisted that she was absolutely, positively going to remain in her home.

Less than a year later, she fell and broke her hip. Against all of Wendy’s professional experience and advice, she was determined to go home.

Wendy’s mom quit her job to become her caregiver, but grandma needed 24 hour care, around the clock.

So the family began the challenge of finding and hiring personal caregivers.

They chose to hire caregivers directly, since they had an “expert” in the family. They’d save money that way, and be able to afford better care, longer, with the resources grandma had at her disposal.

What followed was a scene that family caregivers everywhere can relate to. The daily phone calls (“what do we do when she refuses her medicine?”). The no-show caregivers. The need to find qualified individuals to hire to replace caregivers who could no longer cover all the care needs.

Most of all, the exhaustion and the continual sense that caregiving is a job more challenging than raising a child. If, in fact, raising a child takes a village, caring for a beloved elder takes a full city of people, resources and energy.

Today, Wendy is the staunchest support of our newest online course, the Caregiver/Personal Care Aide Certification Course. She knows what caregivers need to know to provide high quality care, whether they’re related to the person or not. She knows that often – in the middle of the night, or the middle of the afternoon, caregivers are alone with the person in their care, and need all the help in caring and coping they can possibly get.

Wendy’s family, supported by paid, trained caregivers, cared for her grandmother right to the end of her life. She stayed in her home, just like she wanted. She was lucky, too, to be surrounded by family members who not only wanted to do the right thing, but who also had the training and experience to know what that right thing was.

The experience has helped Wendy better understand what other family caregivers are going through too. It’s no longer just a professional awareness; it’s personal, too.

1 comment:

SYNERGY HomeCare - East Valley said...

Sharon -

You hit the nail on the head over and over in this blog. Thank you for writing the challenges so well. Often, families try to care for their loved ones by themselves, first out of resposibility and then out of money management (since nobody really knows how long someone will live (money they will need)).

But, that care is exhausting. This exhaustion is a reason why some caregivers simply no longer show up! CareTeams are the best solution and when working with agencies ask about their approach for caring for your loved one.

We at SYNERGY HomeCare follow this approach because the work is exhausting AND takes a number of people.

Keep up the great work writing about these topics!