Meet Kevin Bush Who Changed Jobs as a Child Advocate to Supervise the BBT Program
We are thrilled to have Kevin Bush join our administrative team. Kevin graduated from Michigan State University with a Bachelors in Psychology. He recently worked at St. Vincent Catholic Charities as a Child Advocate it its Children’s Home program. The children in residence at the Children’s Home are in the Foster Care system and came to the program with high needs for emotional healing. Kevin’s gentle but firm manner combined with his educational experience make him a highly prized employee.
“We are blessed to have Kevin join our team and look forward to the imprint he will have on the Breaking Barriers Today program as supervisor, and his Team Lead position for the Respite House program,” shared Executive Director John Stauffer.
“I have a passion for leading and taking care of people who are vulnerable and may need encouragement to grow and learn, “shared Kevin. “This choice to help children came out of a college intern experience where I worked one-on-one with a child in an Adolescent Diversion Program. I found the close contact meaningful and it was a real boost to see progress. I am excited to get started at Helping Hands Respite Care because I feel like I will have the opportunity to know and feel the effects of making a difference in the lives of the children in our care.”
Newly married, Kevin and his wife Stephanie are enjoying making a life in a home on the west side of Lansing in a rural setting close to the Woldumar Nature Center.
Being the parent of a special needs child is not easy. You find you have an abundance of patience you never knew you had, a voice that can be loud when advocating for your child since he cannot speak for himself, and strength and stamina as caring for a special needs child can be quite exhausting at times. But there are also many rewards. You will never look at life the same way again and learn to appreciate even the smallest accomplishments. Just seeing Jimmy happy and content is all I need.
I love my “Jimmers,” as I call him, and while he is not verbal he certainly knows how to make his needs known. When he is happy he will clap his hands, and tap his feet on the floor. I call those his “Happy Feet.” When I hear him “OOOING” I know all is good in his world. When Jimmy does not want to do something, he squawks at me. A good example is when I make him brush his teeth. He gets over being mad quickly though.
When Jimmy was 3 years old we knew that he would need specialized care. That is when we enrolled him in the Beekman Center, one of the few options in this area for children like Jimmy. Even though this was the right choice for him, putting him on the bus for the first time was so hard. I know I cried all the way to work that day and cried one and off most of the day. He just seemed so little and the bus seemed so big! Jimmy was so little and vulnerable. I felt like I was sending him off to strangers but I knew he would be in good hands.
The program at Beekman was helpful but we needed to cover the care gap after school. It was essential that my husband and I be able to work, both for financial reasons and for personal social reasons. I enjoy getting out and going to work and need that adult interaction. I have made many special friendships over the years with the people I work with.
At first, we turned to after school care in a private home. That was until the day I came to pick up Jimmy and he was crying which was very unusual for him. My mother’s intuition told me something was just not right. Not long after that Jimmy slipped out of the yard through an unlocked gate, something he had never done before. My heart sank! All I could think of was the “what ifs” that could have happened. Jimmy is defenseless and cannot fight back. He could easily be taken advantage of. I knew a change had to be made and went searching for a better solution. That was 20 years ago when we came to trust the organization then known as Lap Respite Center, now Helping Hands Respite Care.
In that time Jimmy has been well cared for over the years in various versions of the after school program. Having Helping Hands Respite care as part of our team has been an important part of Jimmy’s overall care plan. It is hard to explain the peace and confidence I feel being able to go to work knowing that Jimmy is in good hands and is in a safe and loving environment. It also brings me comfort that the staff at Helping Hands is fully trained to meet Jimmy’s individual needs.
Not too long ago Jimmy turned 26 and aged out of the Beekman Center program. The after school program, called Breaking Barriers Today, located at the Gier Community Center, has been a great environment for Jimmy. Jimmy loves it there! The staff has also been resourceful and worked very hard to accommodate our need for more care. The alternative would be having Jimmy at home and even though he would receive good in home care, there would not be enough stimulation and interaction like he receives at the Breaking Barriers program. He needs structure and a routine and so do I.
My husband and I are so grateful for the care and support we get from Helping Hands Respite Care. I know Jimmy is at the right place as I pull into the parking lot at Gier and I hear his “Happy Feet” tapping away in the back seat. It is music to my ears! I honestly do not know what we would have done without their help over the years.
And the respite is not only for Jimmy, but for my husband and I too. Sometimes we will take a day off work and just enjoy what we want to do while Jimmy is being cared for. It may seem like a small thing to most but it is vital for our well-being.
Our hope for the future is that Jimmy’s care will continue with Helping Hands. It has always been our goal to keep Jimmy living at home with us and Helping Hands Respite Care is helping us achieve that goal. We feel so blessed to have Helping Hands Respite Care as a huge part of our lives now and hopefully for years to come.
I have been interning at Helping Hands Respite Care for about four months now, and I can honestly say I have learned more about where I have been, where I am and where I am going than any other time frame in my life. I went into this internship with minimal experience working with individuals with special needs, but still had more than most others in today’s society. Jeff Nunham had asked me in my interview why I would be a good candidate for this position, and I said something along the lines of how I want to become a nurse after I graduate and I love helping people. Both of which are still true, and still important. But as I reflect on these past four months there are many more reasons as to why I thrived at this job, and more importantly why I love it so much.
I go to work every day with the goal of brightening someone’s day, I want to put a smile on my clients face. The funny thing is, without fail, every time I leave work they put a smile on my face. These individuals have taught me how to live life to the fullest; they have made me appreciate where I have come from and what I have. They have taught me to fear less and love deeper. They have taught me to be kind, compassionate and understanding, to everyone.
One of the most important things I have learned is that people with disabilities are still people. They might look different, communicate differently, or live differently than you and I, but they are more powerful than we know. I have learned some of the most important life lessons from my client, an eight-year-old client who is completely non-verbal and non-mobile. He has never said a word to me, but he has reached my heart in a way that words never could.
People will ask me what I do, and I simply explain how I work with people with disabilities and nine times out of ten their response is “Wow this is so awesome, that must be so hard!” And you know what they are right- what we do is hard. It is hard work and a lot of people couldn’t do what we do, but I think to myself when I am working with them about how hard their life is every day. I have moments that are hard- they have days that are hard, months that are hard, years that are hard. So yes, this internship has been hard, but what the clients and families that Helping Hands serve do every day is more difficult and inspiring than what I do.
This organizations and the clients I work with have changed my life, I am proud of the caregiver, friend, sister, daughter, future mother and future nurse that I have become from this experience. What this organization does is special- and I couldn’t be more thankful for the opportunity to work at a place like Helping Hands Respite Care. Thank you.
A speech delivered by John Stauffer April 26th at the Annual Helping Hearts Giving Society Breakfast to cast a vision for the future of Helping Hands Respite Care.
It brings me great comfort to see so many familiar friendly faces in the room. Faces of individuals and agencies who have been assisting Helping Hands Respite Care in its effort to provide quality respite within our community for years. I also see many new faces, I welcome you under our respite umbrella – there is more work to do therefore I am very glad for your presence here today.
This year we have chosen to celebrate our successes. I think it is a fitting theme because we have had memorable successes in spite of working through a difficult climate. Over the last year we have experienced 11 deaths. Those who support us know the fragility of our clients, but this was an exceptionally high toll on families and for our staff to overcome this year. It is impossible to do the type of intimate care provided by our agency without getting emotionally invested, but we have chosen to celebrate the life of each and every one of those 11, in small ways each and every day, instead of mourning their loss.
This year has also been financially difficult, not just for us but for many non-profits. Many services have been cut and doors closed because of tightening of federal dollars to support non-profit causes. The constant struggle of trying to do more with less is something we have embraced at Helping Hands Respite Care and in a large part is what I am here to celebrate with you today.
I stood here before you a year ago and shared a vision, and it is from that vision that the successes I share with you today have become reality. The vision included restructuring who we are and how we operate as an agency, specifically through the use of volunteers. While like most visions it did not unfold exactly as planned but the results have far exceeded our expectations.
Kate’s Memory Café, born from this fund raising process, is a free service run by volunteer Katie Donovan and was already in existence when I spoke to you last year. This event takes place on the 2nd Sunday of every month. In the beginning I would join Katie and we would rush around getting the room ready, food prepared, musicians set-up, tables arranged for the guests that were about to share an afternoon with us of food, music, laughter, stories and even occasionally tears.
What has changed since I stood before you here last year? I have only attended one Memory Café session in the last year. Katie has developed a core group of volunteers like Loretta Keaner. Along with a larger group of “occasional” volunteers who have assisted her each and every month in assuring those families who attend have a warm, memorable experience. Volunteers who showed up because over the last year people like Vicki Rakowski, and Barb Zimmerman, shared their expertise in volunteerism to help our agency implement our vision of better service to our clients through improved utilization of volunteers. Vicki and Barb over the last year have created the manual that helps us recruit, train, and retain these volunteers. It is that which has helped Kate’s Memory Café enjoy the successes it has experienced over the last year.
One of our longest running programs is our weekend Respite House, a structure owned by McLaren Greater Lansing and staffed by Helping Hands Respite Care for 25 years. About a year ago McLaren Greater Lansing’s CEO, Tom Mee, came to speak at the East Lansing Rotary, a group to which I happen to belong. I seated myself at Tom’s table and struck up a conversation, three short weeks later I was in his office with Katie Donovan explaining to Tom ways in which we could work together. He called his marketing manager, Brian Brown, into the room. After a few brief conversations Tom had wheels set in motion that included some wonderful financial support to our agency, and an agreement to work with the community in supporting our efforts to update our aging Respite House.
When built, our Respite House had everything you could want in a handicap accessible structure, However that was 25 years ago and my how things have changed. With the help of a Go Fund Me campaign and a financial promise from McLaren we got busy updating. Our Board President-elect Jane Beaudoin and her husband Gary basically lived at the Respite House for a week last August. We changed-out appliances, scraped and painted basement walls, updated flooring, added wall mounted lifts to help with transfers, painted all the walls on the main floor, and completely gutted and rebuilt our bathroom with tiled walls and a zero-entry shower. The bathroom renovation can be attributed to Sam Tucker, another of our hard-working board members. He, his crew, and contractor friends made an absolutely amazing transformation in our bathroom. Our kids were lining up to take a shower, it was that much fun. (thanks Sam). Another board member who couldn’t stay away from the fun was our Board President, Kevin Beard, who showed up like a gunfighter ready for action with his tool belt slung low, he helped assure all our appliances were installed and working properly (thanks Kevin). Jane, our vice-president having seen the deplorable condition of our bedding gathered up her neighbors to help purchase new linens for the four beds at the house and this group of neighbors will forever now be known as the “Ladies of the Sheets.” The Greater Lansing Quilters Guild stepped up with three new quilts for each bed. Our kids love the vibrant colors and intricate patterns. In all, over 40 volunteers have helped in two structured project work groups to help turn our Respite House pumpkin back into a glittering carriage. A monumental task, but one that took on a life of its own and again far exceeded expectations all because of collaborators like McLaren Greater Lansing and a very large group of volunteers secured because of our new volunteer focus.
Our greatest success this year is the implementation of a new business model for Helping Hands that utilizes paid internships in each and every program we offer. The utilization of paid interns ensures quality care is accomplished at a far lower cost than a typical Helping Hands Care provider. The interns come from human service majors at Michigan State University. To date we have paid interns from family studies, social work, kinesiology and psychology. We are working with pre-med, nursing, and neuro-science to expand those available to complete a paid internship. These interns come to us usually as juniors or seniors and are excited about the opportunity to put their newly learned skills to work in a hands-on practical setting. We require each intern to complete our training which, as many of you already know, is the best in the area for those agencies providing respite. These interns must be with us for at least two semesters and their assistance will help stabilize any effect of outside financial influences like changes in minimum wage, because we control and set the stipend the interns receive. In our Beta test that started in January, we received an A grade from the University, mainly because we successfully completed and turned in, all the required paperwork. From the families and the interns themselves we get an A+. Just ask Mary Claire, who will share with us just a snippet of her personal experience as one of our Beta test paid interns.
There it is, the highlights of this year’s greatest successes we wanted to celebrate with you. Kate’s Memory Café,the Respite House face-lift and our new business model that incorporates paid interns. While all three are successes, much work still remains to be done. We have just scratched the surface on what we can do with volunteers. We only have one complete semester under our belts with our paid interns. We will look to you for support to help stabilize and grow these fledgling programs. Once that is accomplished your continued generosity and faith in our ability to provide quality programming and leadership in the area of respite in our local area will help us address our next big challenge. That is, our friends and collaborating agencies are currently knocking on our door and asking us to work with them and to help them in new and exciting endeavors that pertain to respite needs. Your support is the how and why we will be able, as an agency, to continue to make significant progress and with great impact in serving these respite needs.
If you are a client/family, caregiver, or contracting agency, most of you may already be feeling the effects of our switch over from the VINCENT scheduling system to Clear Care Online. For us the decision to switch over was easy, based on the research done before hand. We were propelled by the fact that as an early adopter of the VINCENT system we experienced some disappointment in getting changes made to the system to accommodate our needs or simply to fix glitches. After a month and a half of preparation, and with the help of the Clear Care transition team and a dedicated transition counselor we went LIVE on May 1st and began the change-over transition.
Even with all our hopes for the better solution for the families we serve and the care givers who help us keep our promises – there is never a great time to make a transition. We are so proud of our Office Administrator Janette Lauzon, and our Scheduler Rhonda Mliakoff. Together these two have done a fabulous job of coordinating this transition. Not going to lie, there were frustrations along the way, but we have never had the kind of daily and intensive support from a vendor like we have had from Clear Care.
What the Clear Care Benefits are to the Families We Serve
The Family Room Forum – Each family has their own “room” to communicate with us and the caregivers scheduled to provide care. The Family Room provides a place for communicating back and forth. Family members can request some additional tasks, offer reminders on one-time events which the caregiver may need to be aware of; and likewise, the caregivers can share comments on things that happened during their shift that may help the family. Once you get into the swing of using the Family Room Forum we predict an even better experience for both the families and the caregivers.
Schedule View – The families can see the schedule online, either from your desktop computer or your smart phone. The schedule is a living document and shows the shifts with times and who is covering that shift. The whole month view of the calendar gives you a comprehensive look at a color-coded plan which lets you know which shifts are scheduled, shifts that are still open, those in process and those completed. Notes can be appended to the schedule such as when a caregiver did not show or the family had to call off a shift – this is making the billing process so much easier!
Care Notes – The Clear Care system will hold the details of the Person-Centered-Plans (PCP) including a list of all the required Activities of Daily Living (ADL) and show those needed for a particular shift. When a caregiver checks in via their phone, they will see what is on the schedule for that shift, and when they clock out they will only be able to do so after answering the questions related to the ADL tasks. A simple “YES” if a task was completed, a “NO” with an explanation why. The system will also capture mileage related to any activity where the caregiver took the client out into the community as well as any comments or concerns for the family. This instant capture of care notes creates a foundation for a paperless system and makes for a much better snapshot of what happened on each shift, and that information is always available to the families. The supervisors will also have access. As our caregivers get used to checking in and clocking out, and reporting, we are convinced that the level of care will get even better.
What Clear Care Means to the Administration of Services
As you can imagine the job of administering, scheduling and managing up to 75 caregivers to deliver over 5000 hours of care each month (and growing) to 100 or more families through the six programs offered by Helping Hands Respite Care…it can get complicated. Clear Care is beginning to uncomplicate these processes for us in some meaningful ways.
The paperless care notes system provides far more accurate documentation of what happens on every shift and provides alerts for action items. Already we are finding the system to be intuitive, user-friendly, and much faster.
The information that comes out of the system and immediately interfaces with our billing system provides for a more accurate monthly invoice which reflects the many variables involved such as acuity level, role of caregiver, and variable pay structure of the caregiver in a group setting such as the Respite House, and the specific requirements of the various contract sources. This also translates to a more streamlined payroll process. For example, within our Adult Day Services program those members who attend and receive support from the Veteran’s Administration (VA) must receive a particular rate prescribed by the VA. In the past, reviewing the daily care notes for a particular pay period to determine which caregiver served which member to satisfy the contract would take up to an hour. Now it takes 10 minutes!
We are only just now beginning to realize the benefits of simplifying the scheduling process with Clear Care. It is not uncommon to have to accommodate a last minute change in a schedule due to illness. On Thursday at 5pm a caregiver called in to let us know that she would be unable to fill an overnight/awake shift at the Respite House beginning at 6pm on Friday. By going into the Clear Care system after clicking on the shift that needed to be covered, in just a few minutes we clicked a few buttons to reflect the criteria we needed in a caregiver for this shift, including finding all those that could possibly work that time frame without going into overtime. We found eight potential workers which met our criteria. Their names were clicked and a text message was sent to all asking if they wanted the shift. Within 5 minutes, the shift was filled!
As you can tell, excitement is rising for us as we continue the transition begun on May 1st. On June 1 we will be doing our first billing process and with any luck it will yield the same kind of benefits we have realized on the scheduling and payroll side of the equation.
Bottom line, it looks like we have a winner. We know it may take time for everyone to get up to speed on using this new system …which means the information and accuracy is only going to improve. If you are having challenges with the system, please do not hesitate to reach out to us so we can help you with your learning curve. This is a system that supports us all in ways that help us continue to keep the families that we serve in a position to receive the full benefits of respite, while their loved one gets the best care possible.
Long Term Caregiving Opportunities at Helping Hands Respite Care
If you are a caregiver already trained by Helping Hands Respite Care, or, you know someone that would enjoy working with either seniors, adults or children with special needs – we are currently filling some gaps in our long term schedule. This is the opportunity to secure your schedule. If you are all set, you could still earn some extra cash by making a referral. Learn more about our Care Provider Referral program, Download the referral form today! Following is a list of current long-term shifts.
For more information contact our scheduler, Rhonda Mliakoff at 517-243-0684 or email at email@example.com
At our February gathering of Kate’s Memory Café we explored themes from the book The Five Love Languages- How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate by Gary Chapman. In Chapman’s book he describes the 5 Love Languages as:
1. Words of Affirmation
2. Quality Time
3. Receiving Gifts
4. Acts of Service
5. Physical Touch
Highlighting from the book for a discussion point, we reviewed the following:
1. Words of Affirmation
“The object of love is not getting something you want but doing something for the well-being of the one you love. It is a fact, however, that when we receive affirming words we are far more likely to be motivated to reciprocate.”
2. Quality Time
“A central aspect of quality time is togetherness. I do not mean proximity. Togetherness has to do with focused attention.”
3. Receiving Gifts
“Physical presence in the time of crisis is the most powerful gift you can give if your spouse’s primary love language is receiving gifts.”
4. Acts of Service
“Requests give direction to love, but demands stop the flow of love. What we do for each other before marriage is no indication of what we will do after marriage.”
5. Physical Touch
“Physical touch can make or break a relationship. It can communicate hate or love. “
After some discussion of these topics the participants of the Memory Café were given the following questions for personal reflection, considering that the Love Languages in your relationship now that Alzheimer’s disease or dementia is present:
Things to remember, you each have a primary love language – this is how you respond best in the receiving. Remember, yours may not be the same as your mate. What is/was your mate’s love language?
Over time you and your mate have created a rhythm to your language…..a give and take. What did that look like?
Now that this disease has entered (or encroached on) the relationship, how has the dynamic of your love language changed? What accommodations have you made?
As the primary caregiver, how will you take care of your needs for love in the places where your mate may no longer be able to participate?
If you would like to explore this topic further here is a link to purchase this book on Amazon. You will also see other variations of this book.
Join us in welcoming Melissa (Missy) Dahlgren to our team as the new child-in-home/respite supervisor. She has worked as an in home supervisor/therapist to families for the past four years at another agency. She has also served as a respite home manager for a brief time. So, you can see why we are thrilled to have her as part of our team.
Before leaving her former employer, Missy was the chief administrator of the respite program. She supervised three respite facilities and their corresponding managers. “I am hoping to transfer the skills from my last position to Helping Hands Respite Care and am committed to helping us grow as an agency,” shared Dahlgren. “I am a friendly person and hope that the next time you stop by the administrative offices that you will look for me for a quick chat. My hobbies are farming, spending time with my two daughters and husband, as well as shopping. I am looking forward to working with everyone.”
For those of you who were wondering, Tarra Boris has moved on to a position as a social worker in the Waverly School system. We were honored to have her for as long as we deed and wish her the very best on the career path that she had dreamed of from the beginning.
Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal. Irish Headstone Message
Kate’s Memory Café Place for Friendship, Support, and Encouragement
When I started facilitating Kate’s Memory Café, the one thing that I had not counted on was the inevitable endings that we would face together. Whether from the decision to place a loved one in a care facility, or the ultimate good-bye that death would bring. At this month’s Memory Café we learned that since we had last gathered in November, several of our beloved participants had passed away. Some we knew about, but others were news to us.
On that day, we were blessed with the opportunity to confront our greatest fears and grief as several of our members arrived solo, ready to be embraced by their friends from the Café, friends everyone, who are walking parallel paths, always in search of answers, solutions, or tricks to make a difficult care-taking task easier.
Largely, over the past 20+ months our journey has been filled with joy, music, laughter and love. It has been such a privilege to see the friendships develop at the Memory Café as each and every one found solace in the other. In the words of C.S. Lewis, “Friendship is born at the moment when one says to another: What you too? I thought I was the only one?”
The Holy Spirit guided me to change a few things for this gathering. I had re-arranged the room to accommodate the fact that I wanted to have a cozy fireside chat about surviving the long cold winter. At the last minute, I asked one of our volunteers to take the extra chairs and place them in a circle at the front of the room. I had grabbed a handful of strips of paper thinking that we would write those things that we wanted to let go of on the paper and then toss them in the fire. As we gathered I asked those sitting in the circle to answer the question “What do you need?” There was no answer more poignant than Dan’s as he struggled to find the right words as he waved his arm to include everyone in the circle. “This,” he said. “We need more of this.”
Hosting Kate’s Memory Café is such an honor. It simply would not happen without the support of wonderful volunteers, including the musicians who robustly share their talent, resource library from the Alzheimer’s Association, and of course our sponsor, AF Group, whose financial support makes it possible for us to put out a nice meal and cover the costs of materials for fun activities.
Indeed we do need more of “this.” If you know of someone who is caring for a loved one with early or mid-stage dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, it would be an honor to include them and their care partners in our circle of friends. Kate’s Memory Café meets monthly on the second Sunday (unless it is a holiday). We gather from 2pm to 4pm at Helping Hands Respite Care’s facility in East Lansing, 201 Hillside Court. The event is FREE of CHARGE. To reserve a table at the Memory Café call Katie Donovan at 517-242-7355, firstname.lastname@example.org
Katie is a paid consultant to Helping Hands Respite Care, assisting with marketing, content and fund development. She facilitates the Memory Café, pro-bono, as an homage to her mother and father. Larry Donovan had Alzheimer’s disease and passed away in 2004, Mary Donovan was a faithful and tireless caregiver to her beloved. Helping Hands Respite Care operates six programs providing professional respite care for families in a variety of circumstances. To learn more, please share this link: www.helpinghandsrespite.care
Supervisor Alison Sarkozy on Level of Care Acuity Assessment
After some careful planning, a few months ago the Helping Hands Respite Care ADS program implemented a Level of Care Acuity Assessment system for our senior members of the adult day program. By sharing an assessment tool during intake of a new member, families were asked to fill out the assessment tool based on what skills and behaviors they could observe at home. That family-based assessment provided the baseline for determining staffing care ratio needs and a corresponding fee schedule based on staffing. After 30 days the same assessment tool is filled out for that individual through a collaborative effort and input from those care providers who see that individual in action throughout the day at the adult day program.
The Acuity Assessment covers everything from mental sharpness, ability to engage and participate, making needs known, ability to feed self, attend to personal toileting, and mobility. Being able to have these mental, physical, and social markers is the kind of data which, if consistently available for periodic review, provides a real benefit to the member, their family and our staff. Having the family participate from the outset also provides a common language for marking progress or critical changes.
Level of Care Acuity Assessment Well Received
By and large, this new system of assessment has been very well received, and from our perspective helps us do an even better job at monitoring and responding to care needs. This effort is also part of a statewide data collection initiative. Since our Executive Director, John Stauffer, recently concluded two years as President of the Michigan Adult Day Services Association, members of the association are attempting to apply common language and measurement across the state from organizations with similar missions and populations. “As an industry we have seen the writing on the wall, there are mounting challenges that our major health systems are being faced with regarding serving this senior population. If the adult day services industry is going to compete or collaborate with big health systems we need to be able to point to reliable data that demonstrates our industry’s service value and effectiveness,” shares Stauffer. “We, at Helping Hands and at the state level, are proud to be involved in a project which may very well have a positive impact nationwide.”