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.
Donate for the Respite House Renovation – Get Raffle Ticket(s) for Prizes
Last summer, through the generosity of dozens of volunteers and supporters, and an amazing sponsor – McLaren Greater Lansing, we nearly completed the renovation of our Weekend Respite House. The Respite House facility, home to one of our most popular programs, was in serious need of updating after 22 years of service. The handicap bathroom became even more accessible, a new paint job on the main floor, new flooring in the kitchen and bath were installed, and new appliances in the kitchen and the basement were installed. Additionally, much work was done on the exterior to clean-up and brighten the exterior and the garage.
Respite House Renovation Inspires More Needs
Focusing our attention on the Respite House renovation gave us the chance to see many other small projects which required our attention. Just like any homeowner, one project seems to lead to another.
As autumn arrived the funds and the energy for Phase 1 ran out – yet there was still work to do. One of the biggest ticket items we were not able to cover was the purchase of the power pack for the new lift mechanisms installed in each bedroom (many of the children who attend Respite House are in wheelchairs and need assistance to be transferred from chair to bed.) A new power pack costs approximately $2,000 and can easily be transferred from one bedroom to the other.
Other work yet to be done includes a facelift for the second-story sleeping quarters for caregivers (Weekend Respite House requires 24/7 care from our professional caregivers.) Plus, included in our Get it Finished wish list are the funds to go shopping in a specialty catalog for games and calming devices for children on the Autism Spectrum.
Respite House – Get it Finished Plan – being fueled by volunteers from AF Group
At the end of 2016, our friends at AF Group reached out to us with a special request – they were establishing a new employee volunteer program and were looking for projects for their employees. You can imagine that our first thoughts went to our Respite House. We are pleased to say that a work session has been scheduled and we expect to be putting 10 employees to work over a two day period.
Covering the Costs of the Respite House Get it Finished Plan
At Helping Hands Respite Care we have received some beautiful and relevant gifts to benefit our mission of Caring for Those Caring for Others. In Phase 1 members of the Capital City Quilters Guild stepped up and made beautiful quilts for the four Respite House beds. The quilters have continued to donate more handcrafted quilts and specialty pillow cases; and now we have enough quilts to be sure that we always have enough to dress the beds to match the age and interest of the children attending. There were a few quilts which were not exactly the right size for the hospital beds and so we have decided to offer two lovely quilts as raffle prizes to our online donors in a special promotion to raise funds for the Respite House.
Thanks to our friends at Wharton Center and the production company we also have two pair of tickets to the April 11th opening of the play The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time at the Wharton Center. Based on the book of the same name, this play creates a powerful experience which leads to a greater understanding of the thought processes and perceptions of a child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder.
We have created an online event to sell tickets to cover the final costs of our Respite House Renovation project. Here is the link to the secure donation site at Network for Good.
The details for the Respite House Online Event are:
Fund Raising Event Period: March 24, 2017 to April 6, 2017 Cost of a Ticket: $15.00 – Each ticket purchased will serve as your receipt for your donation
Each ticket will be one entry into the drawing. When the event closes Helping Hands Respite Care staff will download the list of all ticket holders and create an individual slip to drop into a fishbowl for the drawing.
Drawing: Facebook Live Drawing on our Facebook Page www.facebook.com/helpinghandsrespite
Courtesy call to the winners will be made immediately following the LIVE drawing. Prize Winners: Quilts can be collected at our administrative offices at 201 Hillside Court, East Lansing, MI. Ticket winners to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time may pick up their tickets at WILL CALL window at Wharton Center prior to show on April 11th.
– No limit to the number of tickets purchased
– Employees and Contractors of Helping Hands Respite Care may not participate
– It is the responsibility of the prize winners to pick up their prizes on a timely basis
– This is an online/limited time promotion. No accommodations can be made for offline participation due to the short timeframe
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.
Brand new bathroom redesigned seems like it is twice the size. The roll-in zero entry shower is amazing. Beautiful porcelain tile on the floor and the wall make this a very functional bathroom for both the child and the care giver. This was one of the major efforts, and frankly a capstone change, for this renovation project. The diligent efforts and calm demeanor of the HMCO, LLC team members did not go un-noticed.
The soothing wall color and easy access and impressive new bathroom inspired the creation of a small group of supporters who have dubbed themselves the Ladies of the Sheets.
These ladies are committed to supplying the Respite House with bed linens and bath towels. Their first project was the crisp white towels, lovingly monogrammed by Ladies of the Sheets leader Jane Beaudoin.
Respite House Renovation Outside
Another big impact was refurbishing the handicap ramp and replacing the crumbling front porch steps. We have Bonnie Jordan and Stan Kranz and some of the Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity boys to thank for taking on not only scraping, sanding and painting but also swing sledge hammers to demolition the steps. We can hardly wait for the fresh new wood porch and steps to season so we can add a coat of paint. And, while we had the paint can open we tasked one of the fraternity brothers to weed the handicap accessible garden and give it a fresh coat of paint. Mary Donovan, Katie Donovan’s mother added some cash to the project to cover the cost of some seasonal decor and plants. In addition to this outdoor work, the whole house was power-washed, the garage was clean and cleared and two coats of paint covered a peeling exterior wall. Our exterior doors have been painted a beautiful red, and there is a new non-stick surface on the handicap ramp.
Respite House Renovations – Appliances and Basement
There is a huge impact in the kitchen which has a new floor, fresh paint, needed cabinet repair and a new refrigerator, new cooktop, new microwave, and new oven. Bob Conway handled the old floor tear-up and the installation of these appliances. Additionally, down in the basement the dying washer and dryer were dragged out by some of our muscle from Pi Kappa Phi, walls were painted with waterproof paint and the floor has a fresh coat of paint. (Kudos to Antonio Todd, John Stauffer and Max and Blake Sandborn).
The basement now has a brand new washer and dryer and a storage freezer for the opportunity to stock up and food items and treats when they are on sale. If we haven’t mentioned your name, it does not mean that we aren’t grateful —we are eternally grateful and want to schedule a walk-through reception for all our helpers and donors in the near future. We still have some finishing touches and will be communicating about how we want to proceed.
At Helping Hands Respite Care we are so grateful to McLaren Greater Lansing for helping us get to our $16,000 fund-raising goal. By our calculation these funds leveraged over $40,000 in value. Watch for another post where we will ackowledge our helpful vendors.
Tarra Boris our in -home children’s program supervisor is marking some new milestones. She recently graduated from Michigan State University. Over the past year and a half Tarra has divided her time at Helping Hands in service to the organization and in pursuit of her Masters of Social Work via an internship “I am still in process towards earning the distinction of having the MSW letters added to my title,” shared Boris. “Hopefully, I will be able to work in the necessary hours and the exam in the near future.”
Facing another life milestone,Tarra is expecting the pending arrival of her baby and is busy preparing a transition team (Dawn Todd and Leah Gavin) to carry on her work during her maternity leave. Tarra shared that her baby is a girl and will be named Arabella.
Tarra is also working on a Play Therapy Certification which she expects will be very useful in her work with families with children, in-home care, participants in the Breaking Barriers Today program, and of course the Respite House.
When asked what we would need to fully outfit the Respite House with toys, tools, or materials with state of the art resources for children attending the program, she was quick to list the following: more sifting toys, a wide range of sensory input toys, weighted blankets and vests, swings, bean bag chairs, and colorful art or murals. “There are some really great advances being made in research on play therapy designed to de-escalate behaviors, especially with those children on the autism spectrum. It would be wonderful to have more of the tools and resources appropriate for occupational or play therapy at the Respite House.”
We are working hard to get to the end of this project but wanted to stop for a moment to give you a progress report on the Respite House. You have all heard the old adage “the best laid plans of mice and men” – it means that no matter how you hard you plan, there will always be things that go wrong.
Well, when it comes to the Respite House project our best laid plans went both right and wrong. In the right column we have:
RIGHT: Our timely meeting with McLaren Greater Lansing’s CEO, Thomas Mee. What an affirming experience to know that our new friends at McLaren believe in what we do and graciously stepped up to help us close the funding gap for the Respite House Face-Lift project. The $16,000 raised, at last count has leveraged $45,000 in repairs, materials, and new appliances.
RIGHT: The 18 and counting donors who contributed to the Go Fund Me campaign. Many who have already been acknowledged on the same day or next day after their gift. Stay tuned for more on this topic. You can still help us enhance the Respite House experience for the kids by going to www.gofundme.com/respitehouse to make a donation.
RIGHT: The incredible and reliable help we received from Board VP, Jane Beaudoin and her husband Gary; the professional guidance and coordination from Board Member Sam Tucker who helped us make decisions about our projects and leveraged thousands of dollars of value from so many of his contractors and vendors for his Home Management Company (HMCO); and, Board President Kevin Beard’s willingness to step-up and pitch in on several fix-it projects. Staff member Dawn Todd for showing up to help us clear the decks for the work to begin and for bring her son Antonio Todd along for some of the heavy lifting.
RIGHT: Those volunteers who responded to our call to sign-up for work shifts: including Bob Conway father of Cassidy and Kylie, who value and count on our respite services; Bonnie Jordan and Stan Kranz, regulars at Kate’s Memory Café who showed up four times for work sessions; volunteer nurse Vicki Rakowski for pitching in to help with the basement clean-up (something that we didn’t put on our list but desperately needed to be done); and 10, yes 10, members of Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity who kept Volunteer Coordinator Katie Donovan hopping for a whole Saturday afternoon; the Life Leads group volunteers Sarah (plus her two boys, and Vyra; and the Ladies of the Lake – Gayle, Susan, and Jaye who responded to our Facebook request for help and took a shift which included prepping, painting, and cleaning.
And, in the WRONG column:
WRONG: With any home improvement project there will be surprises, and we had more than our share, including temporarily losing track of the toilet for the bathroom.
WRONG: Our two and a half week timeline expanded to more like four and there are still some lingering projects.
WRONG: We discovered a wall in the basement that needs some serious attention. Plus we had to delay replacing the basement windows because of lack of funds and other more pressing projects.
WRONG: Our daily work of the agency continued even though the Respite House Face Lift required lots of attention. Not going to lie – my daily productivity suffered here at the Administrative office, and the project suffered without a focused project coordinator.
WRONG: Communication and expectations were sometimes a problem. But, somehow we made it through.
So, you can see that our WRONG list was much shorter than our RIGHT list and there is lots more that I didn’t include in the RIGHT list. As we are approaching completion of this project it is easy to imagine the kids and the families that count on and deeply appreciate the value of this weekend respite program. We are all excited to turn it back to the staff, family and kids.
Do you have time to volunteer? The Respite House is a very special, long-standing program of Helping Hands Respite Care. It is a small bungalow which is used nearly every weekend of the year for four children with disabilities to come together for a weekend sleepover under the supervision of Helping Hands Respite Care professional care providers. The Weekend Respite House program is one of the most popular and always has a waiting list. The families who are lovingly vigilant for their loved ones get the benefit of 48 hours respite in order to rest and rejuvenate.
The Respite House was established 22 years ago and at the time was modified for handicap accessibility. A lot has changed in that time and very little has been done to update the Respite House. It is long over-due for a face-lift. That is where you come in as a volunteer. While we have some professionals lined up to upgrade the bathroom and do some needed window replacements and carpentry projects, we have a long list of activities in which volunteers could participate.
So Much To Do – Time to Volunteer
We have 18 days beginning August 22nd through September 8th to complete the Respite House Face-lift. We have designated 7 days for volunteer activities.
Friday – August 26
Saturday – August 27
Friday – September 2
Saturday – September 3
Tuesday – September 6
Wednesday – September 7
Thursday – September 8
Each day has two four hour shifts (8am to Noon and 1pm to 5pm) – 1 hour for briefing and orientation at the Helping Hands administrative offices at 201 Hillside Court in East Lansing, and 3 hours of work at the Respite House (You will be supplied with the address and parking instructions at the briefing). To learn more about this volunteer opportunity here is a link with more details on the project: http://www.helpinghandsrespite.care/respite-house-face-lift/
If you are good with any of the following tasks you could be part of our team:
Breakdown/Clearing for new construction
Yard work, Cleaning, and Organizing
Cleaning and Preparation for Painting
Painting Interior Walls and Trim
Painting/Waterproofing Basement Walls and Floors
Painting Exterior Doors and Handicap Ramp
Minor Repair Work and/or Installation of Window Treatments
Moving in and installing appliances
Can’t Volunteer? You Can Still Help
Please note that we are still fund-raising for this project, there are many things we can do with added funds to enhance the environment and experience of the Respite House program for the participants. So, whether or not you are able or interested in volunteering, you can help us with a gift of support. The link for online donations is www.gofundme.com/respitehouse We have been blessed with a promise from McLaren Greater Lansing that gifts will be matched, so anything you can give will be multiplied.
If you have any other questions, please do not hesitate to call Katie Donovan, Consultant to Helping Hands Respite Care 517-242-7355.
If you are familiar with Helping Hands Respite Care, you know that the Respite House is an important and valued way to provide real respite for families caring for a young person with disabilities. What you may not know is that it is long past time for a Respite House Face-Lift.
We are blessed to have the benefit of a small house owned by McLaren Greater Lansing and have been offering Respite House weekends for over 20 years. Last year we were able to replace the flooring in the living room and bedrooms. But now the kitchen and bathroom need major attention and all of the rooms need paint, decorating and window treatments.
Respite House Kitchen
The kitchen, while spacious, definitely needs a face-lift. The appliances are all over 25 years old and quite frankly we are on borrowed time with the existing refrigerator – it has no handles is rusting around the edges and is not energy efficient. The garbage disposal is leaking, the cook-top has no knobs, and the oven doesn’t heat very well. We dream of all new appliances (refrigerator, microwave and vent hood, oven and cook-top) except for the dishwasher which we replaced last year. We would also love to see new durable hard surface flooring in the kitchen.
The bathroom is crumbling around the edges and the flooring is squishy. We would like to take this opportunity to make the shower a zero-entry-threshold, the shower enclosure tiled from floor to ceiling, and a durable hard-surface floor.
In the basement there is a washer/dryer pair of inefficient, rusted machines that chug through at least 10 loads of wash every weekend. It would be wonderful to replace those with high efficiency units. The basement does have a new heating and cooling system, but the walls could use some help with a waterproof sealant. When the new heating and cooling arrived the wiring was put in place for a generator. We would be over-the-moon if we could raise enough money to purchase and professionally install a generator.
Throughout the lower level of the Respite House we need fresh paint and window treatments (the kids are really hard on the window shades) and we could sure use a designer’s touch for homey touches like artwork, bedding, and furnishings.
Here is the Respite House Face-Lift Plan
Work like crazy to raise the funds (click the orange button to see our Go Fund Me campaign) to cover the costs of materials, appliances, and professional installation for the kitchen and bathroom projects. Hope we have enough remaining funds to go deeper on our wish list. And, we would love to find a dedicated team of volunteers to take on the project of painting and decorating. Currently our plan is to close the Respite House in late August and the first week(s) of September to complete all of the projects.
We need your help. Can we count you in? You can help by forwarding the link to this blog post to your friends and social media contacts and round up a group of friends or associates to be part of a volunteer crew.
To learn more, call, John Stauffer, Executive Director at 517-372-6671
In follow up to our recent caregiver satisfaction survey, below is an analysis of the results.
Reflected in this survey, Helping Hands Respite Care (HHRC) creates opportunities for families in the Lansing area who are taking care of a loved one with a chronic disability or age-related condition to receive respite. Respite is the provision of temporary relief for caregivers and families who are caring for those with disabilities, chronic illnesses, or the elderly. Planned respite time is a vital part of the continuum of family services intended to reduce family stress, support family stability and minimize the need for out-of-home placements. We describe our work in respite as ‘Caring for those, caring for others.’ We believe it is important to help improve the overall quality of life for our program participants and their families. Moreover, our agency helps to address the myth that the individual with the disability or age-related condition is the one who needs the most support. We have found that most times, the caregiver is in desperate need of support or even a break, but does not know how to ask for it without feeling guilty.
February, 2016 was a significant month for Helping Hands Respite Care because we launched the ‘Helping Hands Respite Care: Annual Caregiver Survey.’ This project is important because it promotes communication among the HHRC staff and caregivers and at the same time allows our agency to effectively meet the needs of program participants and their caregivers. As a result, this assessment reminds us that it is important to make agency development decisions based on objective information rather than our own ideas.
The purpose of this assessment was to measure the primary caregiver’s satisfaction as it relates to our organization providing respite, and to provide a way to introduce new respite opportunities such as emergency overnight respite. In comparison, the goal was to arrange a safe space for these individuals to provide feedback to our agency. The Helping Hands Respite Care: Annual Caregiver Survey contained multiple sections for the respondents to read through and provide meaningful and honest responses. These sections included questions about the program participant’s general demographic information, marketing projects, caregiver/care receiver feedback, new agency initiatives, in-home care for children and adults, the adult day services program, and also an overall evaluation.
This survey targeted primary caregivers who receive respite from our agency. Our caregivers mean a lot to us, especially when it comes to non-profit development because they sometimes serve as a connection between our agency and the local area. These families and individuals are also able to see our agency through a different lens than we as employees, interns and volunteers. Therefore, as our organization continues to work on our agency development, we believe that the opinions of our caregivers is very beneficial.
The Helping Hands Respite Care: Annual Caregiver Survey was distributed based on the caregiver’s preferred method of receiving information from our agency. With that being said, participants either received the assessment as a hard copy through the mail or within an email that contained a web link to the satisfaction survey. Upon receiving the survey, each participant was asked to read and answer the questions to the best of their ability and return the survey to our agency by Sunday, February 14, 2016. The implementation of the satisfaction survey is the first time our agency has surveyed each program at the same time. It was also the first time utilizing an online survey service which creates customized surveys.
There were no known risks for participants upon completing this satisfaction survey. As a way to honor the trust between our agency and those individuals that we serve, all survey results have remained confidential and are stored in the HHRC administrative office. Data collected by the participant’s has only been viewed by the HHRC program directors and board members. The names and contact information of those participants who requested additional resources have been sent to individual program directors only.
Findings and Results
Participating in the assessment was completely voluntary. The number of responses received was 19 (27.5%) which was lower than what we hoped for; considering 69 caregivers were invited to participate. It was also noted that not all of the surveys we received were completed. Therefore, the results do not represent all HHRC’s caregivers, only those who responded.
The Helping Hands Respite Care: Annual Caregiver Survey contained a variety of questions including rating scales, multiple choice options and also comment boxes that allowed the caregivers to elaborate on their ideas and thought processes. Of the results we received, we noticed trends within each section of questions.
The general information section of the assessment gave our agency a glimpse of the individuals we serve whether they are the caregiver or care receiver. For example, the responses to our survey were received from spouses and also adult children of agency clients, but the majority of the individuals who returned the survey to our agency were parents of the client. In comparison, these results show that our agency cares for a variety of age groups (the majority) who identify as being male, White/Caucasian, and participate in our programs so that their family can receive time off while they enjoy socialization time with others. Additionally, it was also reported that the care receivers are receiving care for diverse reasons but mostly cognitive or developmental disabilities.
As the survey shifts to the marketing projects our agency has adopted, the results show that although most of the respondents have not seen a copy of our new brochure, they were pleased with our agencies new logo and brand identity. On the other hand, many respondents were not familiar with our friend raising event, “Walk beyond the Barriers” or active on the Helping Hands Respite Care website and Facebook page. In contrast, there was more of a positive response to the e-newsletter because survey participants noted that they receive and read the e-newsletter while others provided contact information to begin receiving the e-newsletter.
HHRC is featured once a month on a local news show, “Morning Blend.” During this time, the executive director and marketing specialist highlight new initiatives and upcoming events for our agency. When asked whether or not the caregiver has seen the monthly Morning Blend features, most responded that they had not seen Morning Blend featuring HHRC. However, a respondent did suggest a new discussion topic to be considered for an upcoming segment, “adults over 50 caring for their disabled children.”
Caregiver/ Care Receiver
The caregiver section was specifically designed to create a safe space for the respondent. For this reason, along with multiple choice options, comment boxes were created for open ended answers. From these results, our agency noticed that most of our responding caregivers are providing unpaid care and assistance to one person and the amount of time this care has taken place is very diverse. For example, one individual reported 18 months and another reported 33 years. Participants were asked to define their role as a caregiver and to also select the life stressors they experience as a caregiver. In the space provided, caregivers explained that being a fulltime caregiver can be very difficult, challenging, and even complex. Some of the life stressors that have come along with being a fulltime caregiver are the inability to take vacations, lack of personal space, and mostly lack of personal time.
Caregivers were then asked to explain what they would change to make their role as a caregiver less stressful. From these responses, individuals reported that increased personal time is needed, more help from family members and friends and these individuals would also appreciate additional in-home respite. All in all, it is apparent that these caregivers understand the importance of respite because when asked ‘what is the biggest benefit of receiving respite?’ the majority stated “time for me to rejuvenate,” “time for me to run errands,” and “time for me to build relationships with family and spouse/partner.” Moreover, the majority of these caregivers said they are pleased with the respite received from HHRC and are interested in learning more about community resources.
HHRC is aware that some program participants are unable to communicate effectively. With that, we used this opportunity to ask the caregiver for insight as it relates to the care receiver’s level of comfort while receiving services from our agency; if noticeable. For example, of those surveyed, the majority of the care receiver’s participate in our In-Home Adult Program and also the Adult Day Services Program. These participants were reported as mostly content and comfortable with the HHRC programming.
Helping Hands Respite Care has been exploring new ways to provide additional respite for the families we serve. With that being said, Helping Hands Respite Care is looking at the feasibility of two new service models- one to implement a new model of in-home respite; and second creating emergency overnight respite services. The new proposed in-home model would involve a CNA or seasoned care provider training a volunteer to provide quality care to an individual client. The proposed emergency overnight respite would be available upon request. When asked if the caregivers would utilize these new initiatives, the majority of responders answered ‘yes’ for both initiatives and also indicated interest in receiving more information. Some of the major concerns the care providers mentioned for both new programs would be the ‘quality of training for the CNA and volunteer’ as well as concerns about the process of ‘paying in advance for the emergency respite.’
Child and Adult In-Home
Some of our caregivers receive respite through the In-Home Child and Adult programs. HHRC caregivers are trained by our agency to work one on one with individuals who prefer to receive respite at home. Overall, those caregivers whose loved ones participate in the In-Home Child and Adult Programs stated that they are satisfied with the services provided and agreed that the HHRC staff members work well with their loved one. When given the opportunity to explain what these caregivers liked most about the In-Home Programs, many said they like the care providers in general because they are well trained and a good match for their family/loved one. On the other hand, when asked what they liked least about the In-Home Programs, two respondents said “turn over in caregivers and lack of caregivers” while another said they would like to receive notifications of staff changes earlier.
Additionally, caregivers who receive In-Home Respite were asked whether or not they would like to schedule a counseling session with our intern/counselor and were also provided space to emphasize what they might discuss with the intern/counselor. The majority of the participants indicated that they are not interested, but those who are interested provided their contact information along with concerns they wanted to address in the counseling session. Some of the concerns were “help with difficult behaviors,” “caregiver stress,” and “an overall understanding of things.” Moreover, trends were noticed throughout this section. For example, when asked whether or not the HHRC staff person was approachable or well trained, two respondents answered “disagree” and the same result was noticed when the caregiver was asked whether or not HHRC’s programs are meeting their current needs. Despite those singled out reviews indicating some dissatisfaction on delivery of service, all of the caregivers surveyed agreed that they would recommend HHRC to another family.
Adult Day Services
Some program participants receive respite through our Adult Day Services (ADS) program in addition to or instead of In-Home Services. In this section of the survey, participants stated that they ‘agree’ when asked whether or not they are satisfied with the ADS Program, if it meets their current needs, and if the staff works well with the program participant. Caregivers were also satisfied with the fact that there is a registered nurse on staff along with the information, suggestions and care provided by the ADS program employees. When asked what the caregiver liked best about the program, one respondent said, “location, the fact that it exists” and another said, “It is close to home. It provides a safe and secure place and stimulation for participant.” However, when asked how the ADS could better serve the caregivers needs, one participant said, “Evening program from 6:30-9:30pm” and another said, “more one-on- one teachings for people with dementia.” Lastly, all respondents agreed that they would recommend the ADS program to another family.
As The Helping Hands Respite Care: Caregiver Survey concluded, we took time to reintroduce our Free Fun Events along with two other programs, Breaking Barriers Today (BBT) and The Respite House and lastly to receive an overall evaluation. For example, when asked how likely the participants are to attend a Free Fun Event with our agency, the results were divided between “very likely,” “slightly likely”, and also “not at all likely.”
The evaluation questions for BBT and the Respite House were followed by a comment box so that the caregiver could write their own response. When asked to share thoughts about the BBT Program, one respondent said, “the supervisor is receptive to any schedule changes. Flexible!” and another said, “things have really improved since the beginning. The new location and system seem to be working well now.” At the same time, when asked for feedback about the Respite House, one participant said, “I love it,” and another suggested out sourcing this facility. As survey participants gave their final thoughts, a few individuals thanked us for our work while another noted changes within the agency’s culture in comparison to past years and also gave suggestions to create a space for families to get involved more through a family advisory board.
After collectively reviewing the survey and feedback from the participating caregivers, following is a short list for consideration for areas to improve the survey process and results for next year’s distribution.
– It is always in the best interest of our agency to work on improving satisfaction numbers. This can be done first within each program and then overall as an agency.
– It was reported that there was a hiccup with the online survey function which we regret and can easily improve in future surveys. (ex. Some participants preferred to click more than one answer to effectively respond to a question but could not.)
– Some participants did not complete the survey entirely- Perhaps 83 questions felt a bit overwhelming. For future surveys we may explore sending specific sections of the survey to specific caregivers. (ex. John Smith attends the ADS program, so his caregiver will only receive questions pertaining to HHRC and ADS).
Resources for Caregivers
Many of the caregivers asked for more community resources as well as additional respite time. Although the contact information has been sent to each program director regarding the questions/concerns our caregivers have, it may be beneficial to send an overall update to the caregivers on progress that our agency has made. This progress could be sent via e-newsletter or by mail.
If caregivers have more questions or concerns, it is recommended that you please contact or visit our administrative office and speak with the program directors.
As stated above, the purpose of The Helping Hands Respite Care: Caregiver Survey was to assess the primary caregiver’s satisfaction as it relates to our organization providing respite. In doing so, it was important to our agency that we provide a safe space for caregivers to voice their opinions in a nonjudgmental way. It is our goal to always provide quality care and respite for the families we serve as it relates to our mission. What that, we thank you for your participation and informing our agency of ways we can continue, Caring for those, Caring for others.
Helping Hands Respite Care Staff This analysis was prepared by: Jackie Gibson, MSW (effective 5/6/16)