Meet Katie, Our Quality of Life Coordinator!
Introduction – Please share your journey to and with ERS & bhome Home Care.
When my maternal grandfather passed away in 1989 we started to notice some things going on with my grandmother. She started to forget the groceries at the drive up and would go home without them and not even know that she had done that. Then she started to get lost while driving and we would have to go out and look for her. It wasn’t long after that my mom and her siblings got her an appointment at the Mayo Clinic to see Dr. Ron Peterson. It was after several tests that she was diagnosed with probable Alzheimer’s Disease; I was in high school. Being the oldest grandchild I felt like I needed to do what I could do to help support my family and my grandmother. My family tried many different things and they just didn’t work. When it became too hard to keep her at home on the farm, my mom and her siblings had to make the difficult choice to move her into a nursing home. The day that she moved, she had walked a half mile to her cousin’s house on a country road. After being moved to the nursing home, they placed her in a wheelchair with a lap buddy. They said that she was a fall risk. Needless to say her care was not the best. I remember clearly the day that I decided that I wanted to work with people living with memory loss was the day that I went to see my grandmother and I found her in bed with her pajamas on and her breakfast sitting on a tray next to her bed, untouched at 1:30 pm. I started asking questions and when the answers were not measuring up, I called my mom and told her that I refused to leave until she came to see her. My mother came with her sisters and brother and then they made the choice to move her and my grandmother was taken to the hospital for evaluation. That’s when the doctors found the cancer and numerous blood clots. I made a conscious decision and I vowed to help those living with memory loss to be able to live their lives to the fullest, enjoying the things that they love to do until the end. That’s when I started working at Sunrise Cottages in Rochester. I was there for four years before I decided that I needed a change of scenery. Over 12 years ago, I reached out to a co-worker who had moved to the Twin Cities to work for a great residential assisted living company, English Rose Suites and bhome Home Care – and – the rest is history.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I would say that for me when it comes to work things are very black and white. We all have a job to do and it’s to help support and serve our Residents and Clients. I like to mentor the HHA/CNA’s to learn how to enhance the Residents/Clients lives each day.
What are some of your hobbies?
Playing with my daughter, cooking, reading, swimming, sewing, music (live concerts), traveling, hiking in the woods, fishing, camping, crafting, enjoying friends.
What do you think makes us so different from other companies?
Our commitment to helping our staff be successful in their jobs and help them grow. Our commitment to our Residents/Clients and their families. Our Residents have a voice and it’s truly heard here at English Rose Suites and bhome Home Care. Our small family homes and our ability to be flexible.
What brings you the greatest joy from your job?
The smiles on the Residents faces when I come into a room. They know that I am here to be their friend and walk hand in hand with them on this journey. They know that I will take them on adventures with me, laugh with them and be silly but I will also hold their hands and be a shoulder to cry on if they need it. They are all my friends and they bring me great joy. My co-workers and members of the leadership team bring me great joy as well. We have worked together for many years and they too are my friends, coming to work is like going home.
What do you hope for the world of dementia?
I think that we are in serious denial in the United States when it comes to impact that the “Silver wave” is going to have on our health care system. Then you add the fact that through technology doctors have been able to detect and diagnosis memory issues much earlier than they could 20 years ago. I feel like we do not have enough support systems in place to hold our health care system up when it comes to the world of memory loss/care. It needs to be looked at as a duel issue – it’s not only the person living with dementia but their care partners as well. Steps are being made to help bring this issue to a more national level and the stigma of dementia and memory loss is slowly being lifted but the road is long, dark and uphill. More money needs to be dedicated to research to find the cure that will stop dementia diseases in their tracks.
What is your favorite memory of a Client or Resident?
There are so many to choose from but I must say that my favorite memories are the ones of my daughter sitting on the sun room couch at Interlachen playing the drums and singing the itsy bitsy spider with Betty; Ava was 18 months old. Jack telling me that he wants me to be right with him for the rest of his days, that he’s my friend and that we do everything right together. My husband and his connection with Peggy. She used to call me “Kaka” and loved when “the big guy” would come over and play the guitar for her – she would wear his hat and sunglasses while he played.
What advice would you give someone just starting out in this field?
Do your job with the greatest passion that you have. Do your job because you love it and those that you serve. Listen to them and do things side by side with them – not for them. Let them share their voices and have their opinions. Be kind and open minded.
What are you most excited about for the upcoming year?
I am looking forward to many more smiles and times of fun and laughter with the Residents and Clients. I am looking forward to growing more in my job and continue to support the Residents/Clients that we have and the new ones that may need our help.