Posted on

Amber Gifford Joins Caregiving Kinetics

We are pleased to announce that Amber Gifford has joined Caregiving Kinetics! Amber will help us reach caregivers everywhere through her efforts in research, outreach, publicity, and marketing.

Amber is not a stranger to caregiving.Amber Gifford of Caregiving Kinetics

Born and raised in Connecticut, Amber spent most of her “first” career in senior care. She was proud to have worked for multiple Assisted Living Communities as both a Memory Care Director and Executive Director. Her greatest accomplishments included therapeutic program development, relationship cultivation, and caregiver support group facilitation.

After meeting her husband and moving down south, Amber began to remotely support businesses with a focus on the wellness of others. When Amber found out that Dr. Aaron Blight was searching for someone to assist him in the promotion of his forthcoming book on caregiving, she knew it would be a great fit. Not only was Amber impressed by Aaron’s background and drive to make a difference in the lives of so many others, but she felt her past experiences would lend well to the success of Caregiving Kinetics, too!

Amber genuinely believes in the saying “everything happens for a reason” and is excited to assist Aaron in spreading his message of hope. She currently resides in North Carolina with her husband and infant son, and their family will be growing as they are expecting a baby girl in September!

Asked for a piece of advice she’d share with caregivers today, Amber said, “Be patient with yourself. Your relationship with your loved one is growing and evolving in ways you probably didn’t plan for. If you continue to show love and put your best foot forward, then you can rest easy knowing you are doing all you can despite how it may feel in certain moments.”

Posted on

Why You Should Treat Your Caregivers Like Your Clients

caregiver on phone

Over the years, I observed dozens of schedulers filling shifts at my home care company. One of my best schedulers was a woman named Nina who had an uncanny ability to get our caregivers to commit to shifts. Nina was highly effective in staffing because she took extra time to develop relationships with both our clients and our caregivers. Nina was often inconvenienced by caregivers who would call out of shifts or talk about their personal problems with her. Despite the fact that Nina was extremely busy, she always made time for a client or caregiver who needed her.  She was unceasingly courteous and kind, and her extra “doses of “honey” (as she called them) came back to her like good karma whenever she was in a pinch and really needed a caregiver’s help.

Not all of my schedulers were as kind to our caregivers. One day I watched in horror as my scheduler slammed the phone down after getting a caregiver call-off.  She started ranting about yet another caregiver calling out of a shift. Her colleague responded by asking, “Why do all of them do that?!?”

I knew we had a problem when I heard this exchange. Based on the actions of a few caregivers, my schedulers were generalizing about all caregivers.

 

The Risk of Negative Narratives in Scheduling

Scheduling can be a stressful and frustrating job because of the challenges filling shifts and handling last-minute call offs, but we know that most caregivers want to do a good job. Of course there are a few exceptions, and you deal with those. But when the narrative in the scheduling department descends into a constant cycle of cynicism and complaining about how caregivers are always causing problems, that perception permeates the office culture.

Your schedulers cannot continue to talk among themselves about how “worthless” caregivers are without allowing such a perception to unintentionally seep into direct dialogue with caregivers. Just like most human beings, caregivers will know if you don’t respect them. Where respect is not given, it is not reciprocated. When there’s a lack of respect between caregivers and schedulers, the challenges in staffing multiply because caregivers and schedulers alike are less likely to be considerate of one another’s needs.

As caregivers and schedulers descend into a tug-o-war, your clients suffer through the ensuing reduction in service quality. Clients will only tolerate so many scheduling mishaps before they start looking elsewhere for service.

 

Treating Caregivers Like Clients

One of the most distinguishing aspects of home care is that every visit to a client is actually a double-sided transaction. What’s a double-sided transaction? It’s a transaction that requires two “sales” in order to deliver a single service.

In home care, not only do you have to “sell” the service to the client, but you also have to “sell” the visit to the caregiver. It’s easy to see the importance of “selling” to your client, but the necessity of “selling” the visit to your caregiver may not be as obvious. Why can’t you just tell the caregiver when and where to go?

If your team thinks caregivers should simply be told where to go and just do what they’re told, nothing else, it’s critical to realize that such an approach isn’t always realistic in home care. Caregivers are humans with complex lives and many demands outside of work. The variability of available work in home care means that caregivers cannot count on predictable schedules. Work only becomes available when a client has a need, wherever that client may live. Caregivers must adjust their personal lives to accommodate constantly evolving work requests, and sometimes they just can’t do it.

Belittling, scolding, insulting, and complaining about caregivers who can’t work a shift does nothing to fill that hole on the schedule. In fact, being rude is how you drive caregivers away. Home Care Pulse recently reported that the biggest cause of the industry’s high rates of caregiver turnover is poor communication with the office.

You’d never think of being rude to a client. Given the nature of home care’s double-sided transactions, you shouldn’t be rude to a caregiver either.

If you teach your staff to treat your caregivers like clients, you will listen to their needs and make efforts to accommodate them. Caregiver job satisfaction will increase. Turnover will decrease.  And your caregivers may be more inclined to respond to your karma in a positive way when you’re desperately seeking to fill that last minute shift.

That’s Nina’s secret: over time, the honey is always more effective than the vinegar.

During his career, Dr. Aaron Blight has held leadership positions as a caregiving provider, policymaker, and researcher. Learn more about his caregiving journey here

Posted on

Caregiving: A Metaphor for National Healing

Woman walking with an elder

Today a friend told me that this year has been like 1918, 1929, and 1968 all rolled into one.

Marked by a pandemic, economic instability, violence, and demonstrations, 2020 has been a year unlike any I’ve seen in my lifetime.

People everywhere are hurting. It’s as if our entire nation is mourning.

As I contemplate what must be done, I can’t help but consider how caregiving exemplifies the healing that our society obviously needs.

In beholding the care receiver, the caregiver looks beyond scales of social identity to see a human being.

The caregiver meets the care receiver as he or she is. At that intersection of lives, a new type of relationship begins. It is a relationship of caring, giving, and receiving.

Recognizing the human above the circumstances, the caregiver engages in a series of personalized actions that demonstrate understanding, kindness, and genuine concern for the care receiver. Fully exposed, the care receiver welcomes the caregiver, and if possible, manages to find ways to reciprocate kindness. Occasionally, in poetic moments of tenderness, the care receiver can actually become the one who gives care.

As conditions change, the caregiver and care receiver continue to be present for each other. Aware of one another’s obvious imperfections, the caregiver and care receiver develop a mutual acceptance and, at times, admiration for each other. Their relationship is rooted in human vulnerability, compassion, and trust.

The events of this year have amply shown our human vulnerability. As a society, we can commit ourselves to caring, giving, and receiving across divisions of race, gender, politics, age, COVID-19 status, and so on, because we are all human beings. If we extend ourselves in the spirit of caregiving, today’s challenges will lead us to a greater sense of compassion and trust in one another.

Posted on

Aaron Blight, Ed.D., Named Member of Well Spouse® Honorary Board

Dr. Aaron Blight

Aaron Blight, Ed.D., founder of global consulting firm Caregiving Kinetics, has been named a member of Well Spouse Association’s Honorary Board. International speaker, writer, and adjunct professor at Shenandoah University, Dr. Blight formerly served as a national healthcare policy leader at the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Bob Mastrogiovanni, Well Spouse Association President, expressed his positive outlook on Dr. Blight joining the honorary board. “His vast experience as a CMS leader and home care agency owner make him uniquely qualified to understand the plight of our caregiving spouses and partners. His background and education give him the ability to be a commentator who can analyze the caregiving experience academically and do it with the empathy of one who has been there. Caregiving for an ill spouse or partner has special challenges because of the intimate nature of the spousal relationship and he understands those relationships better than anyone. We look to the future with optimism because our relationship with Dr. Aaron Blight. “

Well Spouse® Association is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) membership organization that advocates for and addresses the needs of individuals caring for a chronically ill and/or disabled spouse/partner. The organization advocates on behalf of spousal caregivers, and promotes initiatives to help caregiving spouses cope with the emotional and financial stresses associated with chronic illness and/or disability. Well Spouse also coordinates a national network of support for caregiving partners, including a calendar of peer-to-peer support groups, a mentor program, and an online forum on which spousal caregivers can share coping skills and encouragement.

“After so many years developing healthcare policy, I thought I knew something about caregiving,” said Dr. Blight. “But it wasn’t until my wife’s mother was diagnosed with a brain tumor that I really began to understand the scope and significance of caregiving on a personal level. The experience was so profound that it prompted me to redirect my career path in hopes of using that knowledge to better serve people facing the same challenges as Jessica and I had.”

“Through Caregiving Kinetics, I’ve also had the opportunity to learn more about the caregiving experience from a spouse’s point of view,” continued Dr. Blight. “Caring for a partner who is going through a steady cognitive or physical decline is a unique challenge, and associations like Well Spouse are invaluable to the caregiving spouse.” Dr. Blight discusses the concerns of spousal caregivers in his forthcoming book to be released later this year.

As a member of Well Spouse’s Honorary Board, Dr. Blight will help promote the association’s resources and programs among spousal caregivers and other members of the caregiving community.

Posted on

Review of The Power of Disability: 10 Lessons for Surviving, Thriving, and Changing the World by Al Etmanski

The Power of Disability Book

My friend and colleague Donna Thomson recently introduced me to Al Etmanski, the author of The Power of Disability: 10 Lessons for Surviving, Thriving, and Changing the World, published earlier this year.

I decided to read this book because my caregiving-related career has allowed me to get to know many people with disabilities on a personal level. I have observed that despite progress over the last 30 years, people with disabilities continue to live in a society where they can be pricked by the senseless barbs of prejudice.

Here’s my “official” review of the book:

“Al Etmanski has authored an inspiring book – a compilation of stories about people with disabilities who have made significant contributions to the world. I enjoyed reading about familiar people, such as Stevie Wonder and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, as well as others who were new to me. Collectively, the people profiled in these pages demonstrate how a challenge can develop character and how limitations can lead to accomplishment. The resulting “lessons” are applicable to every one of us, for they teach us about our shared humanity, regardless of any perceived differences.”

A caregiver’s focus is on supporting a person with limitations, not defining a person by limitations. If you’re a naturally instinctive caregiver, you will appreciate this book.

Al Etmanski is an experienced community organizer, social entrepreneur, and author. Learn more about Al, The Power of Disability, and his other books on his website (https://aletmanski.com/). Additionally, you can purchase this book on Amazon.

 

Posted on

“Care for Everyone” is More than Masks and Social Distancing

Benches lined up in a row

If there’s one thing that COVID-19 has taught us, it’s that we should be looking out for others. That means taking care of one another, even if the other person is a complete stranger.

Right now we’ve been asked to “care for everyone” by practicing social distancing and wearing masks in public.

But I think that taking care of everyone implies much more than that. It means adopting a culture of kindness. It means stopping for a moment to help when you see someone in need. It means habitually thinking about the welfare of others.

I’m concerned that some of the current COVID-19 measures – the ubiquitous warnings about mask-wearing, social distancing, etc. – may actually have an antithetical effect on us.

You need only go to the grocery store to see this. In some ways, the current climate is telling us that the person you don’t know who’s standing in the aisle close to you is to be avoided at all costs. If you didn’t think that yourself, the recorded store-wide announcement will repetitively tell you so.

Speaking of the grocery store, in my limited public outings I’ve noticed something that’s got me thinking. Perhaps it has struck a chord with you too.

Have you noticed that a mask covers a smile?

What happens to a society when a smile – the most universal sign of human happiness, warmth, and connection – must be covered up?

Obviously, public health advisories are important and should be heeded.

However, I’m looking forward to the day that we can drop the masks, shake hands, and actually care for one another without worrying about how much space is between us.

Posted on

Staying Emotionally Together When You’re Physically Separated

business woman on the phoneThe following is from healthcare and human resources professional, Dee Borgoyn…

How can caregivers on the front lines of the healthcare system and in their homes feel together, connected and supported when they may be physically separated and distant from their friends and those they love?  What can YOU do to help a caregiver in your life??

This time of COVID-19 is shining a spotlight on caregivers across the globe. Healthcare workers have been mobilized worldwide and are being stretched to their limits physically and emotionally giving care to those battling the deadly virus.  The crisis is impacting every type of caregiver — from acute care hospitals to home health workers, from senior living communities to those caring for family members at home. It’s hard to describe the depth of the emotions and stress that people are experiencing, especially when we’re required to socially distance ourselves for weeks on end.

Here is some advice I’ve been given by caring nurses and friends much wiser and more experienced than me, when I’ve faced feelings of loneliness, helplessness and exhaustion in tough times …

Most importantly TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF.  Step away from the fear and news as much as possible. Do one small thing for yourself, regularly. Start or keep a journal, get your feelings out on anything you can find to write on. Turn off all noise and sit with the quiet. Let yourself cry; let yourself laugh. Get some sunshine. Listen to some uplifting music. Take a walk around the house or the hospital even if you think you absolutely can’t. Try not to think about things you can’t do and think instead about what you can.  Don’t think “if”, consider “how”. Know that you CAN do this.

REACH OUT TO CONNECT WITH OTHERS.  Choose the phone over social media whenever possible. Set a TV date and watch a show “together”, or even try to play a board game, in separate places (no cheating!). Write and mail cards and letters to friends and families. When you’re out of the house for necessities, driving or shopping for example, share a smile and a wave with the people you see. If you are at work, look out for each other, think outside the box, put aside any differences you may have had. Give and receive compassion within your teams. When you see a need give your co-worker a break — even if it’s just long enough to take a deep breath, or your shoulder for a short cry.

ASK FOR HELP. I know this can be very hard for caregivers, but if there ever was a time to ask this is it. Many people around you want to help, they just don’t know what to do.  So, at home, set some boundaries so that you can have some alone, quiet time — and make sure you get it!  Take a short nap or take a long bath or shower. Put a family member in charge of taking care of you.  Have a family member or friend do your shopping or run important errands. Ask your partner to rub your shoulders.  Ask if you can vent.  Whatever is it you need — ASK.  And if someone offers help — TAKE IT.

We will get through the current crisis — it will pass.

Caregivers will always be crucial and will always need our support and understanding. If you are a caregiver, or know one, please take these suggestions to heart.

We need each other now and always.

Dee Borgoyn is a career healthcare and human resources professional who has left the corporate and not-for-profit worlds to focus exclusively on developing the type of leadership that nurtures and supports caring, inclusive work cultures. She was disabled from birth and is passionate about providing a voice for those who otherwise may not have one, and ensuring fairness and equity for all people. Learn more about Dee and her services on her website (https://deeborgoyn.com/).

Posted on

How Care Managers Impact the Caregiving Industry

retreat for caregivers
(Learn more about the retreat by clicking the above image!)

The following is from Caregiver Transformation Retreat co-creator, Amanda LaRose…

Do you have an elder in your life that you sometimes worry about? If you do, then you know how difficult it can be supporting them in accepting elder care, coordinating it, and overseeing the care. Do you know that Care Managers help with all of this? Aging Life Care Managers are trained professionals who are governed by an association called The Aging Life Care Association, serving the United States and Canada. Our staff at We Care Management, LLC are Advanced Professionals in this association because we have the highest credentials for our field, showing we are experts.

As people age, they often acquire difficulties with their health and daily functioning and therefore have more stress and more things to “manage”. It can become a full-time job taking care of one’s life as they navigate through the aging process, whether it is the individual themselves managing everything or a family member or friend. We often see these circumstances lead to increased frustration, worry, sadness, and a loss of the ability to have enough time to take part in enjoyable activities. Because there are multiple health issues to deal with and therefore many appointments, in addition to all of the other daily life tasks, people can become overwhelmed and sometimes forget appointments or plan for them on the wrong day.

If you or someone you know is experiencing something similar to this, we encourage you to ask for help in managing some of this, so you and your loved ones can still have time and energy for enjoyable activities in your day to day lives!  Some Aging Life Care Managers provide licensed counseling services and help individuals find ways of relieving your emotional distress and overall stress! For adult children who live far away from their parents, they can even provide Teletherapy counseling via a secure video chat.

If you have any questions about Care Management as a resource, reach out to We Care Management, LLC to allow us the honor of supporting you in helping the elder in your life!  If you don’t live in Northern Virginia we can point you in the right direction!

Posted on

Caregiving Kinetics Blog Named Among Top 50

Award badge

Caregiving Kinetics’ blog was recently named to Feedspot’s Top 50 Blogs in the Caregiving category. This blog was chosen by Feedspot’s editorial team out of countless other submissions based on metrics such as blog quality, posting consistency, social popularity, and Google search rankings.

Written by caregiving consultant, healthcare keynote speaker, and company founder Dr. Aaron Blight, the blog features posts drawn from personal experience, interactions with patients and families, academic research, industry trends, and deeply held beliefs, including the importance of giving and receiving care– not only for others but for caregivers themselves.

“It wasn’t until my wife Jessica and I began caring for her relatively young mother who had been diagnosed with a brain tumor that I truly began to understand the scope and significance of caregiving on a personal level,” says Aaron.

Although Aaron had previously been writing national healthcare policy for the elderly, his experience as a caregiver changed the direction of his career entirely. He opened a home care company to help seniors and their families who were facing similar aging-related challenges. Although he started his home care company with a desire to focus on senior care and their loved ones, interactions with employees led Aaron to care equally about his staff. Aaron’s research, developed in connection with his doctoral degree, offers insight into how caregivers experience and embrace their roles.

In his award-winning blog, Dr. Aaron Blight draws on a combination of personal experience and industry knowledge to create content that supports and resonates with all those caring for a loved one, and those working to create a culture of caregiving based on more than “fed, meds, and bed.”

Caregiving Kinetics delivers consulting and customized caregiving presentations to large and small groups in the Washington, DC area, throughout the United States, and abroad.

Posted on

Jennifer Gullison Receives the Caregiving Kinetics Hand & Heart Award

Congratulations to Jennifer Gullison RN, MSN, COS-C, Chronic Care-S of Cornerstone VNA for receiving the Caregiving Kinetics Hand and Heart Award today at the Northeast Home Health Leadership Summit!

In nominating Jennifer for the surprise recognition, CEO Julie Reynolds said, “Jen Gullison came to Cornerstone VNA right out of nursing school, has been with us for 18 years and has been a force of professional growth now holding the position of Chief Clinical Officer. She has a passion for the work we do and she brings it with her every day along with her positive attitude. She always remembers the importance of the patient, their family/caregivers, and the clinicians when making decisions. She is an amazing positive influence on staff, encouraging and coaching them to be their best and providing opportunities for them to be successful through support and education. Jen embraces all this change we have gone through and are now going through with excitement and creativity-always with the mission in mind.”

Thank you, Jennifer, for serving not only with your hands but also with your heart as you lead clinical services at Cornerstone VNA.

caregiving professionals

Dr. Aaron Blight

#COVID19 is taking a serious toll on the nation’s mental health. Among those most affected: #EssentialWorkers, young adults, & unpaid #caregivers. Mental Health, Substance Use, and Suicidal Ideation During the ... cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/6… via @CDCgov