“I so appreciate Arlene,” says Virginia. “She was such a wonderful help to my husband Bob. Now that he has left me, I have his best friend helping me manage to stay home and be independent.” Arlene first attended our home health aide course 18 years ago. Back then she was timid and uncertain that she could do the job. Now, nearly 20 years later, she is respected and revered by many of our clients. Her skills are superb, and her caring nature speaks clearly of Community Care’s mission. Arlene managed to keep Bob and Virginia in their home as his physical condition deteriorated. Arlene would feed him, bathe him and transfer him in the Hoyer Lift to the living room where he spent many hours with his wife, children and grandchildren.
Thank you, Arlene, for giving of your heart, mind and spirit. You have shared your God-given talents with many of our clients. Your hands are those of Christ.
Last June in their home together, Lena and Rich celebrated 67 years of marriage. Recently rendered wheelchair-bound with a leg condition, Lena had lived in a long-term care facility for a month. Rich suffers from a spinal disease and could not give her the care she needed to heal. Yet he wanted her back home with him, so Lena was discharged to her home, with our fabulous employees providing support services. They do laundry, change incontinence items, cook meals, run the vacuum and perform range of motion exercises. Joanne, their home health aide, stays next to Lena as she walks to the kitchen for meals, and gets on her stair glide to venture upstairs to her bed to have the man of her dreams lie next to her and hear his words of comfort. Between his loving words and his watchful eye, this 90-year-old ex-military medic, Rich, is happy and content.
Thank you, Joanne, for your faithfulness to these people. You help in all their activities of daily living. It is less expensive to have our home health aide give support to Rich and Lena than for them to live in a long-term care facility. Also it’s reported that most nursing homes provide one skilled worker for 15 clients. We appreciate Joanne’s seven years of dedication to our homebound clients. She prays with her clients to assure them that God will never leave them or forsake them.
Joey thrives at his day program for persons with disabilities, which he attends with his home health aide, Marykate. On a recent national holiday, Marykate and his Wheels for Independence driver, Marie, planned a special outing for Joey: They brought him to a local mall and food court. While such a trip might seem like a simple thing, for Joey it was much more. He participated in interactive video games at the mall and “chose his own lunch laughing and gesturing all the time,” remarked Marykate.
“The interaction…was tremendously positive.” When he was a few years younger, Joey had been eligible for additional programs and activities from which he since has “aged out.” Community Care seeks opportunities to enhance Joey’s communication and social skills, which are very important to both him and his family. This was achieved through his recent trip to the mall with Marykate and Marie.
91-Year-Young Flyers Fan Interviewed by Founder/Director of Nursing, Jean E. Langenbach, RN, BS
When I first met Elizabeth she was in a nursing facility. I had been asked by her nephew Rich to assess her condition. She had fallen, was taken to the hospital and then sent to rehabilitation. It was her desire to return to her family home in the Olney area.
Elizabeth had never married, she says, because she had not found a suitable mate. Her niece and nephews, who live in California, North Carolina and New Jersey, maintain communication with her. Their father was Elizabeth’s brother, and they share a common bond.
At the age of 11 or 12 Elizabeth enjoyed ice skating at a local park. This hobby led her to an interest in ice hockey. She and her mother followed a semi-professional league in Philadelphia called The Falcons and later became avid followers of the Philadelphia Flyers. In 1967 she and her mother became part of the Flyers Fan Club, and they had yearly passes to the games until 1988.
Elizabeth worked in the trust office at PNC. She and her mother traveled throughout the United States. Elizabeth drove her mother in their car to 48 of the U.S. national parks and other historic places. After her mother’s death in 1988 she continued to travel by plane to Alaska and other areas of interest.
She also continued to attend Flyers games. When each game concluded, Elizabeth would go to the executive offices where they would call Paratransit to arrange her ride home. Her favorite story is about the night she was instead driven home by a player on the Flyers team. The day I met her she was watching an ice hockey game on TV. In her home is a room decorated with Flyers memorabilia.
This past year hasn’t been easy for Elizabeth. Declining health has prevented her from attending games. Community Care provides her with 24-hour care. At times we were notified of health issues that demanded immediate attention by our RN staff. Our goal is to respect Elizabeth’s wishes to remain in her home.
“Community Care is doing a wonderful job,” comments her ephew Rich, who adds, “you allow my aunt to live in her home and basically to continue her life, seeing her friends and be where she’s comfortable.” Rich appreciates that we “look after her needs, physical and medical, and provide companionship.” For him, the bottom line is that Community Care “makes it easier for me and my brother and sister to know that my aunt is in good hands.”
Her painting of her mother’s favorite Bermuda floral arrangements hangs in her living room, but Elizabeth’s most outstanding painting is a backdrop for the crèche her father made. The blue sky and surrounding greenery made Elizabeth smile as she gazed and reflected upon memories of years gone by.
It has been a pleasure to share in Elizabeth’s past and present life. Just last week she offered her Flyers tickets to my 7-year old grandson. He loves ice hockey and would like to be a professional hockey player. Perhaps someday he, too, will be part of a memory from an elderly hockey enthusiast.
Rita thought fun days were ahead, as her only child has grown up. She and her husband planned to travel and do all the things people dream about. Then an auto accident on her way to work left Rita paralyzed from the neck down. All of a sudden, just to maneuver around her home, she needed help from family, friends, and a trained, direct care worker. Sadly, Rita had some distressing experiences with other direct care workers before she found Community Care.
Meanwhile, Kailey, formerly a preschool aide, took our home health aide course where she shared that she had survived a paralytic illness earlier in her life. Community Care’s founder, Jean Langenbach, observed Kailey during class, saw a temperament similar to Rita’s. Matching is important in Community Care’s work, and Jean began to think that Kailey would be perfect for Rita. Together now, they look like a mother-daughter team. Rita and her family have become an extended family for Kailey. Kailey is Rita’s hands and feet, and helps her into and out of the home hydraulic lift. We know that Kailey gives of herself to lift Rita up, both physically and emotionally.
One day last year, Silvia called the Wheels for Independence program, crying, because she needed to get to her dialysis treatment. Another transportation company had not come for her, saying she was not on their list that morning. Sylvia was not a Wheels program member, and our volunteer Wheels drivers were already scheduled with other clients, so the administrator of Community Care, Nancy Steinke, dropped everything to get Silvia into her dialysis chair on time.
After the crisis had past, Sylvia touched the hearts of Wheels staff, saying, “I thought I was going to die, and you saved my life.” Her income was stretched just to cover food and shelter. That day the mail arrived with a check designated “for a Wheels client who cannot afford the membership fee.” So Sylvia now rides to her dialysis three times a week with Wheels drivers. They see when the cupboard is bare, and bring her food cooked at Community Care. When Sylvia needed to be hospitalized for open heart surgery, a driver cared for her dog. She writes to tell us that she feels “blessed” to have such “special friends” who care, and that she doesn’t “feel alone anymore.”
Catherine was referred to Community Care by Partnership for Community Supports (a supports coordination organization). Living on a very low fixed income, she is alone in her home, and has no family and few supports. All Catherine’s issues, medical and otherwise, are reported by her direct care workers to Community Care’s ODP supervisor, who keeps Jean Langenbach, founder/director of nursing, fully apprised. Some time ago Catherine had experienced a serious bout of cancer, and during that period Community Care helped Catherine make her appointments and set up transportation with our Wheels program.
Over the past several years, Catherine’s home developed many plumbing problems that she could not afford to fix. The ODP supervisor tried to secure funds through Partnership and the Office of Developmental Programs with Philadelphia’s DHS, to no avail; so Ms. Langenbach found a plumber willing to work in Catherine’s home to repair all of the plumbing problems for free. Recently, doctors suspected that Catherine’s cancer had returned. Once again, her direct care worker helped her make all necessary appointments for doctors and tests, and the supervisor arranged for Wheels transportation to take both Catherine and her worker to these appointments. On another note, Catherine has a hoarding tendency, and her direct care workers have gently helped her over the past year to reduce clutter and free up walking space, so that her home has become safer. Clearly, Catherine has benefited greatly from Community Care.