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National Nurses Month: Celebrating the Critical Work of Nurses in Caregiving

May is designated National Nurses Month by the American Nurses Association. Nurses play a critical role at Seniorlink in efforts to care for our family caregivers and their loved ones. This year, Seniorlink is acknowledging the role that nurses who specialize in case management play in long-term care settings.

Case manager nurses are patient advocates. They communicate with patients and their families to guide them through complicated or difficult personal treatment plans and help them understand the services available to them. Within the case management specialty, nurses might focus on a specific service area such as home health, hospice care, or geriatrics. They might also work with a specific set of patients dealing with chronic conditions such as substance abuse or mental illness.

At Seniorlink, nurses work together with social workers as Care Managers to support family caregivers. They form relationships with families and guide them through the process of caring for complex and chronic medical conditions, making it possible for loved ones to receive care at home.

This week, we've asked nurses in case management roles to share some of their stories. Read on to hear from case manager nurses about the moments that left an impact and reaffirmed their career choices.

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Katie Chapman, RN

Care Manager

Evansville, Indiana

 

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“My job is a blessing. Families reach out to me for medical advice or guidance when they are not sure what to do. Most of my consumers are very medically fragile. One wrong thing could change everything for them and their quality of life. I feel fortunate when caregivers call me and ask advice, because that shows me that they trust in me.

We understand that every family is different. We treat every consumer and caregiver by making them the center of their plan of care. We want all of our families to know that we’re here for them at any time.

This job has allowed such flexibility within my life as a Registered Nurse and mother. I feel recognized for the effort I put into my job and I’m encouraged to progress even higher within my role. I show my children daily what it is to work hard, multi-task, and treat others with respect. Everyone should be entitled to fair health care and treatment regardless of their circumstances.”

 

 

Karen Morgan, RN, BSN

Care Manager

Columbus, Ohio

 

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“I had the privilege of being assigned to our first case in Ohio in 2012, and I still have that privilege today.

This is a very special story of a dad and his son, Shawn, who struggled for many years. Dad was working a full-time job and getting calls from work daily to come home because the in-home providers could not care for Shawn the way he did. His son had very challenging behaviors that others could not quite handle. Dad was ready to lose his job because he had to leave every day to go home.

When he found an alternative to work with the Shared Living Program, Dad and Shawn could live life together without the worries. Now, they have a comfortable income and can enjoy doing the things that they love together. They have a relationship like no other! This is truly what makes my heart happy!

Dad takes Shawn on journeys that most kids with his disabilities don’t get to go on. They ride a motorcycle to all different places, take trips to Disney, and spend a lot of time at a campground that Shawn loves. They’ve formed many friendships and lasting relationships. Dad was able to purchase a very nice home for the two of them. He is very appreciative of the Shared Living Program with Caregiver Homes and tells me this so often.    

I've been working at Caregiver Homes for eight years. I truly enjoy my job, it is very rewarding. I work with the most amazing people and I love Team Ohio!”

 

 
Noelia Bernal, RN

Care Manager

Merrillville, Indiana

 

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"I have so many wonderful memories with my families here at Caregiver Homes. I love the fact that they feel they can count on me and tell me that I am like part of their family. I have received text messages with pictures of graduations, weddings, and videos of their family’s achievements and happy times. I had a family make me a blanket one time. She said she wanted me to have the blanket because she wanted me to remember her. I have literally sat and cried with my families when they had a loved one pass away and once the storm had passed, they called me and told me they appreciated the fact that I sat with them for a while just to listen to what they had to say.  

To the families looking into this program, I say that if you are looking to have someone in your corner when it comes to caregiving then this is the program for you. Having a team that supports you and helps you along the way makes a world of difference.

If you are a nurse who is thinking about nurse case management, then look no further. Working at Caregiver Homes as a case manager has changed my life and it truly gives me joy to serve our families and community.

I have never been happier with the benefits that I receive with this company. I love the culture at this company, my coworkers, and most importantly the families I serve."

 

 
Danielle Hoagland, RN, BSN     

Care Manager

Springfield, Massachusetts

 

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“As someone who has personal experience with being a caregiver within my own home, I feel very lucky to have the chance to relate to and connect with fellow caregivers through my work. Caregiving is an absolute honor that brings an enormous amount of reward into people’s lives, but it can also bring a lot of stress and burnout. While I love building relationships with our consumers, supporting our caregivers is my favorite part of this work.       

One of the caregivers I was working with broke down in tears as I was leaving a home visit, and confided in me all of her fears and frustrations. We spoke for over an hour after our visit about the difficulties and challenges of being caregivers to those we love so much, and since then we have had kept a strong relationship.

For nurses who may be feeling disheartened by bedside care like I was due to its pace, the under-staffing issues, and the limited quality time with patients. Caregiver Homes is a fantastic place to work. This role has allowed me the time and space to build meaningful relationships with my consumers and caregivers, and has helped me fall in love with nursing all over again. I never feel rushed and truly appreciate the autonomy that I have within my role. Not to mention the amazing support I have had from my managers and teammates. Caregiver Homes has become a second family to me!”

 

 
Jennifer Hall, RN

Care Manager

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

 

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“One interaction that particularly stands out in my mind was with a caregiver I worked with who was placed in our program during the pandemic. The caregiver was taking care of her sister in a rent house and burning the candle at both ends.

When we first met with the caregiver, you could feel her stress and anxiety. My teammate and I assured her and educated her about the Monitored In-Home Caregiving program in Louisiana and how it could benefit them both.

Today, her sister is thriving and communicating. She makes progress every day due to the continuity of care and love from her sister. The satisfaction and reward that our caregiver gets from the care she provides far outweighs anything else.

I never thought this job would be this rewarding. I enjoy being able to help the disability community in our area. I think this program is too good to be true and I am happy to be able to support our families with all of their needs."

 

 
Katie Merkel, RN, BSB      

Care Manager

Evansville, Indiana

 

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“It’s a rewarding feeling to be able to help families make changes to take care of their loved ones at home. I feel proud of my work often, but when caregivers slip little messages in their daily check-in about how they appreciate our help, it gives me extra motivation to know that I made a small difference in their lives.

Often when a consumer has a new diagnosis or an acute exacerbation of a diagnosis, I get to be the nurse that helps them through that time on their own terms, at their own pace. I answer their questions and help them to process what is going on.

In an acute setting such as a hospital or doctor’s office, it is so hard for families to think of all the questions they need to ask. This is where I get to step in and provide education customized to their needs. When the time comes to make hard decisions, I get the honor of helping families decide how to best care for their loved ones to the very end.

The wonderful thing about Caregiver Homes is that you are working on a team with families. You’re there to build relationships. Celebrating wins and important milestones like jobs, new babies, pets, and shopping trips. You’re also there to fall back on when families feel like they are hitting rock bottom. It’s a rewarding journey, and I feel blessed to be here.”

 

 

Jamila Aithammousaid, RN

Care Manager

Boston, MA

 

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“I’m particularly proud of one of my caregivers who calls me often for support and asks questions that I am always happy and eager to provide the answers to. She is so grateful for Caregiver Homes for the support.

It always makes my day when I hear a ‘thank you from the bottom of my heart for all your help.’ It makes me happy to see people benefit from my nursing skills and education.

My teenage daughter wants to be a nurse and she always says: ‘I want to receive all the blessings and accomplishment like you, Mom.’

My daughter understands that nursing is a satisfying job and the work comes from the heart when she sees my how happy I am helping families.”

 

 
Kathleen Dunham, RN

Care Manager

North Indianapolis, Indiana

 

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"One interaction that particularly stands out in my mind was with a caregiver whose loved one was in the late stages of dementia. Being able to be that sounding board for this caregiver was a blessing, and something that I wish my family had when we experienced this heart wrenching disease progression with my grandpa. The caregiver was able to vent some of her frustrations and worry with me, and I was able to also provide her with resources that she never knew existed! It was a wonderful experience and has led to a great working relationship. 

This job has been incredibly rewarding. As RN Care Managers, we’re able to provide so much more assistance to these families versus only working at the bedside in a hospital setting."

 

 

Carol Toland, RN

Care Manager

Worchester, Massachusetts

 

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“I worked with a consumer and her daughter, the caregiver, from intake to discharge. Both were great at supporting each other. While we worked with them, my teammate and I assisted the daughter in adapting to her role of full-time caregiver, having recently left the workforce, and assisting her mom to navigate complex medical issues involving different medical professionals and agencies.

We worked closely with her Senior Care Options nurse case manager so that she could advocate for needed equipment and medical services. We were present to support them when they got a very difficult diagnosis of cancer. Their whole world crashed down around them but they refused to give up hope. We helped them to accept the reality of the diagnosis and effectively communicate with medical professionals to gain all the information they could concerning their options for treatment.

The mom was always upbeat and positive even when nothing more could be done. She would cheerfully tell me about her great-granddaughter and the milestones she was meeting and show me pictures of recent visits. We were treated like extended family. We enjoyed visiting and regretted being unable to do so during the pandemic. Nonetheless, we kept in constant communication with both of them through telephone calls and our HIPPA-secure platform VELA. The caregiver found comfort in knowing she could reach out to us anytime she needed answers, support, encouragement, or someone to vent to.

It was a blessing to me to be able to work toward keeping this woman at home with her daughter in a stable environment—especially once COVID-19 hit, knowing that the alternative would have been that the daughter would not have been allowed to visit her mom.

Having had many different nursing roles throughout my career, I can say by far working with caregivers to keep their loved one at home is extremely rewarding. Seeing the caregivers’ dedication is humbling. Being part of a caring team that is knowledgeable about many community resources to assist in keeping a loved one at home is extremely satisfying.

As a nurse at Caregiver Homes, I have been able to develop relationships with families and look forward to visits with them on a regular basis. It’s great to see people being able to live with loved ones, feel safe and cared for, and maintain their cultural practices while being supported by our program."

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