William Wordsworth once wrote, “That best portion of a man’s life; his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and love.”
The first of Amada Senior Care’s top five values is charity, a virtue we see as being closely related to compassion. Our franchise partners show compassion through how they treat their clients every day. Many, however, go the extra mile to help those in need with acts of kindness. Below are some of their stories.
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Every three months, Ken Jenson, the owner of Amada Senior Care Colorado Springs, helps the residents of local assisted living and independent living facilities by offering free repairs for their walkers and wheelchairs.
Ken does any routine maintenance like checking oil and lubrication, maintaining and repairing brakes, applying fittings for those that are the wrong size, and tightening loose screws and joints. He also brings cookies and drinks for the residents to enjoy while they wait for their equipment to be repaired. He usually works on 25 to 50 wheelchairs and walkers each time, and said that if he didn’t, many of them would go unrepaired or would remain in poor condition.
“We choose to do this because it is a huge need,” Ken said. “If anything comes loose, if the brakes don’t work, or if the size is wrong, the seniors are more at risk for a fall. At that point, their equipment can be more dangerous than it is useful.”
San Diego, California
Recently, an elderly woman in an assisted living community in Rancho Bernardo, California received the news that her granddaughter was getting married in Austin, Texas. The elderly woman has cognitive impairment, is legally blind, uses a walker, and has limited mobility. She receives round-the-clock care in her community but her caregivers are not allowed to help her outside of the community. One of the caregivers, who is also employed by Amada San Diego Coastal, told the woman that she should call Amada’s owner Fred Ehlers because he might be able to help.
The elderly woman’s daughter contacted Fred and asked about finding a caregiver to chaperone her mother to the wedding and back. Fred not only agreed, but also paid for the caregiver’s plane ticket. “It was extremely meaningful to bring a family and three generations of women together for that occasion,” Fred said. “I know it meant so much to each one of them.”
Another of Fred’s clients who had a stroke a year and a half ago requires 18 hours of care every day. She recently got a puppy that Fred said brought a lot of joy to her life. However, 6 weeks ago, the woman fell and broke her hip. She is staying in a skilled nursing facility while recovering. In the meantime, Fred and his wife have taken her puppy in because they know how much it means to her.
“We’re in the business of helping people,” Fred said. “We didn’t want her worrying about it.”
Robert Christensen, an Amada franchisee in Tacoma, Washington, received a call a few weeks ago that he receives often; a couple in their 80s was in need of a caregiver.
It was a not uncommon situation. The wife had Parkinson’s disease and cancer, and the husband was her primary caregiver. The wife needed assistance with nearly everything – including walking, standing, and communicating. Her husband was having a hard time caring for her because of his own health issues, so Rob told them he would come to their house to do an assessment of their care needs and to find the right solution for their situation.
“When I walked in the house, I was brokenhearted by what I saw,” Robert said. “The smell of ammonia and rat droppings was overwhelming. There were piles of neglected laundry stacked from room to room, and garbage was everywhere. The husband was just so overwhelmed with the need to care for his wife for years that the house had gotten away from them.”
Despite the environment, a caregiver was sent into the home to start care. However, after the first day, Robert received another phone call – this time from the caregiver. “She said she couldn’t go back into the home because of all the mice and rats,” Robert said.
He tried to find other caregivers who would go in, and even offered to pay them extra to clean up the house. Still, nobody wanted to take his offer – so he took matters into his own hands.
“You have to tread lightly in that kind of situation,” Robert said. “I went to the couple and said, ‘I don’t mean to offend you, and if you want to throw me out you can, but the caregiver was really concerned. Will you allow me to help you make this place better for both of you?’”
Their home was in a rural community, and the couple had no family or neighbors around to support them. “I didn’t know what to do about it,” the husband said. “I’ve never had anybody come help me, and I’ve never asked for help because I wouldn’t have known who to ask.” The couple was extremely grateful for the offer.
Robert and an assistant spent 3 days hauling out old clothes and garbage that were covered in rat droppings and urine. Nothing could really be salvaged; everything they took out was thrown away. Five trips to the dump and 4,000 pounds later, they began to deep clean the house. They scrubbed floors and countertops, washed windows and cupboards, and cleaned every inch of each room. They even pulled the refrigerator out to clear 2 inches of rat droppings from underneath it.
“When the couple saw the transformation of their home, they were shocked,” Robert said. “They kept saying, ‘This isn’t even our house.’” Caregivers now come into their home 5 days a week and the couple is doing extremely well.
“I believe in setting an example for my employees,” Robert said. According to his staff, he’s even acted as a caregiver in one situation.
“We as business owners have a responsibility to model this type of behavior, and to show our employees that getting out and providing service to clients is not above us,” he said. “I think it’s important for us to set an example so that no matter what level a person is at, they can say, “If my boss is committed to caring for others, then I’ll follow suit.’”
Written by Taylor French, Amada contributor.