One Portland Family’s Experience with Home Instead Senior Care

One Portland Family’s Experience with Home Instead Senior Care

I regularly have the thrill of reading notes of gratitude from clients or their family members. It’s so satisfying to hear about how much our CAREGivers meant to them or how much they appreciated the responsiveness, availability, and sensitivity of the office team. However, the letter I received last week from a client’s daughter just took the cake…had me smiling for days.

I don’t like to brag, BUT, I really want to share this letter as a tribute to my wonderful CAREGivers and office staff who were there for this family in so many ways. For those of you who make it all the way through the letter, thanks for indulging me.


January 23, 2013

This is a letter for anyone who may be considering working with Home Instead Senior Care. I recommend this care agency wholeheartedly to anyone facing the need for caregivers! Here is our story:

My 86-year-old father was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. In the unfamiliar setting of the hospital, his normal, sweet behavior deteriorated dramatically – he was hallucinating and becoming agitated and aggressive. When we got him back to his own home, he was his normal cheerful and helpful self, with a gentle memory deficit.

We decided to keep him at home with Mom and hospice support. As he started to fail, it was clear that we needed more support than just the visiting nurse and bath aide from hospice. He wasn’t remembering that his body couldn’t do what he expected it to, and Mom wasn’t strong enough to catch him if he started to stumble and fall. He needed someone through the night to help him to the bathroom and to manage transfers from chair to walker and wheelchair to bed.

Although Mom adamantly did NOT want a stranger in their home, she was exhausted physically and emotionally from being awake all night and caring for him all day. I was exhausted from lying awake wondering when the next desperate phone call would come, and having to be there constantly trying to keep Daddy from getting up and falling. He would eventually need 24-hour care as he became bedridden.

I interviewed 4 agencies. One agency displayed trophies in the waiting room extolling their first palce in PROFITS for the year(!). Another agency owner was especially proud of the book she had published. A third one hired only Spanish speakers. Karen, from Home Instead, came to my home and LISTENED carefully to my long list of requirement and hopes for a kind, quiet person who would fit unobtrusively into my parents’ lives. She was so understanding and sweet. I even expressed a desire for a certain personality and political viewpoint. Soon after, Karen brought that perfect person to meet my parents, and my mom was measurably reassured.

Julie fit into our family perfectly. We started with a few hours of her service, then increased them quickly. Julie had a calm, reassuring effect on us all – the transfers went smoothly with her expert technique, and her matter-of-fact, kind manner of speaking kept my dad from bolting away.

When we started with overnight care, Judith arrived with lots of confidence and experience, cleaning everything in sight. In the middle of the night, Mom could hear her dealing with my dad when he woke up to go to the bathroom. Because he was being cared for so kindly and competently, she was able to go back to sleep. That meant that I got a full night’s sleep as well! It was a huge weight off my shoulders.

Another or our night caregivers, Beth (a self-professed “night owl”) spent many wee-morning hours listening and supporting my mother as she adjusted to the reality of her husband’s imminent death. Beth’s assertion that Mom was “stronger than she thought” helped her cope. On the day that we actually moved Mom, Beth helped us through that trauma as well.

In order to cover our sudden need for 24-hour care, Home Instead had to schedule several caregivers. I am still amazed at the number of kind and competent people that came to help us! Of course, there were a few that were not a good match. I emailed Tina, the Home Instead staff coordinator, with my concerns, and she IMMEDIATELY replaced them. She learned quickly what qualities were important to us and sent people that were compatible.

We were never made to feel that our concerns were too picky. The phone was always answered right away by a friendly, helpful person. Every Home Instead staff member seemed to “get” that this time of life is super stressful. I always felt reassured and supported at every contact with Home Instead. We requested as few different people as possible, and they accomplished this quickly with only two 12-hour shifts per day.

Because our caregivers were doing most of the housekeeping and physical care (changing Depends and bedding mostly!), our family had the energy to have quality time with my dad – every day we sang together, sat in the sun, ate meals together, and visited with some of his old students. It was a poignant and treasured time for us.

Our dear Julie was with us when my dad died. As she had all along, she know just the right balance of giving hugs and leaving us alone.

We continued to use two of our caregivers to help us with Mom’s transition to assisted living. Beth helped with some of the lonely overnights after the family left town and I needed a good night’s sleep in my own bed. Julie came to Mom’s new home a couple of mornings a week. By then, she was a special friend who had known my dad and who was a comforting presence for my mom in a new place.

Our family is very grateful for Home Instead!


Lori S. Portland