“There are only four kinds of people in the world. Those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need a caregiver.”
– Rosalyn Carter
The coronavirus pandemic turned the world upside down and put millions of people in an unfamiliar and bewildering situation as they were told to stay vigilant 24/7 and protect themselves and their loved ones against an invisible danger.
At Stephen’s Place, we know that caregiving leads to some pretty unique qualifications. When the fate of another person is in your hands, you are continuously learning how to adapt. When we found out about the worldwide spread of COVID-19, we were rightfully worried about those in our care with compromised immune systems and those who live their life in a very tactile way. But that’s exactly it–you can be concerned and still stay strong for the people in your care. Our response was to thoughtfully introduce changes in a way that didn’t uproot our residents but was fair to the people who live in our community and have all of the life choices that neurotypical folks do.
Many people here rely heavily on their daily schedules, so we made sure to maintain as much normalcy as possible. We also need to help protect mental wellness and continue to provide opportunities for cognitive and physical development. We have found many new ways to still have art; care for the garden; communicate; laugh, and bond. A couple of national holidays have needed a new take. For example, during Easter day, our residential coordinators offered each resident a personal, socially distant egg hunt around Stephen’s Place. Residents who participate in our garden club have been tending to the plants and making sure that they’re still healthy for when our day program garden club members can come back. We still study and eat those plants to stay healthy.
Our caregiving team of Residential Coordinators makes the world go around at Stephen’s Place. The highly-developed, essential skill-sets that belong to each one of our team members are vital to the balance in our community. It’s not just education; it’s personality, adaptability, resilience, grit, empathy, and knowledge of each individual’s needs that keep the wheels turning here. That’s why we think caregivers are uniquely qualified to deal with the coronavirus.
Caregivers Are Always Ready
For a dedicated caregiver, professional or not, attentiveness is a fundamental quality. Being responsible for the physical and emotional well-being of another person, their mind is already trained to scan each person and their environment in search of changes and possible risks. Caregivers are used to being alert to potential risks and planning accordingly. Being constantly “on” like this is something many people aren’t required to do on a daily basis and a good reason as to why the pandemic can cause unprecedented stressors for people.
Patience is a Virtue in the Time of the Pandemic
Another quality that distinguishes a great caregiver is patience. Carers often need a lot of patience to care for a person who has special needs as caregiving isn’t only about caring for someone but helping them learn to care for themself to whatever extent possible. This is a lifelong process for our entire population; those with disabilities and the neurotypical. Millions of people worldwide have had their patience tested by the health crisis and the resulting isolation measures.
“What I would say to my Dad on a bad dementia day, ‘We do better when we work together.’ I needed his help to be able to help him.”
– Colleen Koskiniemi Germundson
Due to COVID-19, many people have been forced to help their elderly parents to cope with the restrictions the pandemic imposed on their lives. Elderly people who were otherwise fit needed no help only weeks ago and now help is needed in providing company, getting prescriptions, and grocery shopping because they’re more vulnerable to the virus. It takes patience and flexibility to manage even small things like buying groceries and finding new ways to communicate. An experienced caregiver can help people with vulnerabilities who resent losing any piece of their independence by being patient and adapting to allow the person in their care to maintain their independence as much as possible.
Making the Most of a Challenging Situation
“Some days there won’t be a song in your heart. Sing anyway.”
— Emory Austin
The strongest way to deal with a seemingly insurmountable challenge is through positivity, hope, and action. Taking care of someone who has unique needs is about making sure that they’re both safe and that they feel safe. Staying strong, acting quickly, and communicating help with this. That’s what makes parents and carers instrumental to everyday life as well as times like this.
A dedicated caregiver does that with passion and infinite patience, full knowing that this, too, will pass like any other crises they’ve had to deal with before and those that will follow. People like to say we’re at war with an invisible killer, but a caregiver is always at war with many unseen enemies endangering the lives of the persons in their charge.
Finally, a good caregiver doesn’t agonize about tomorrow. They take life one day at a time and every day is another battle they have won.
At Stephen’s Place, we know our team is the best. They are not just essential, they are not just vital, they are our heroes. Showing up every day to make each day continue to be as normal and safe as the next.
Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.
– Mother Teresa
About Stephen’s Place
If you have a loved one with developmental or intellectual disabilities, who is looking for a community to live in, please contact us for more information.
Stephen’s Place is a private-pay apartment community due to our state-of-the-art amenities and programs. We are a nonprofit and do not profit from our community. We are private pay because we spend more than some housing communities to ensure that our residents are comfortable and can safely live their lives with independence and dignity.