The Heart of the Matter

By Jeff Nunham, Adult In-Home Supervisor

Adult In Home Supervisor, Jeff Nunham talks about the things we learn along the way.
We often talk about the barriers and obstacles people face who suffer with a disability. Last month, I wrote about those care givers who are “on” 24/7, giving
care to a family member with a disability and who are silently suffering under the strain that goes with that level of loving care. The primary caregiver also face enormous barriers. One which we often see is the myth that says, “No one can care for my loved one like I can.” This is one huge barrier which keeps a caregiver from reaching out and asking for help.

If this is you, then this brief note is must read.

If you have been reading my newsletters lately, you will know that I think we have an exceptional staff of very competent and compassionate people. They often amaze me. Sometimes they really touch my heart.

The typical communication I exchange with our care providers is “housekeeping” kind of things. Things like filling vacant shifts, picking up medication sheets or scheduling a meeting. It is all very important, but not memorable. However, once in a while a care provider will send me a note that reminds me of the reasons I am so confident in the quality of care we give. See what you think.

Just to set this up; our client, M.K. had been acting out in ways that were quite challenging for the care provider. After a particularly difficult shift with MK, he had written an Incident Report to which I had responded, thanking him for the way he handled the situation. This is his response to me:

“Thank you, I’m just glad that the medication seemed to help his headache and combined with redirection he was able to get back to the normal happy M.K. we all know. By now M.K. is like a brother to me, and the goal is to predict what is ailing him before it gets to the point of outburst. I believe a headache or backache lead to his frustration which eventually manifested itself to this point. It hurts me to know he is in pain and has trouble communicating it, so all I can do is help him the best I can as soon as I become aware of his troubles. Sadly in this situation it was much more acute and happened rather quickly.”

Can you hear his heart…………? Who wouldn’t want the love of a brother to shape the care your loved one gets? He is one of the reasons why we say, “This is so much more than a job for our care providers”. Our care providers are all heart.

As a supervisor, I am always looking for care providers with heart. One vital source of great compassionate care is the volunteer who serves because they love to give. A few days ago, as I was walking by one of our volunteers who helps out in the Adult Day Services program, I stopped to thank them for the work they are doing. I thanked her for giving her time to be a part of the program. Her response struck me just like the email you just read. “I just love it here” was her immediate reply. Her eyes were bright and her smile revealed her warm and loving heart. Who wouldn’t want to spend the day with people like that? Like the employee who loves like a brother, this volunteer brings that same warmth and compassion to our members.

This is a message I wish every care giver could hear. If you fear allowing another person to care for your loved one, I simply say “the heart of the matter is a respite care provider who will care like a brother and serve with the love and compassion of a volunteer.”