Full announcement from Mountain Home Care:
ARDEN, N.C. – In celebration of Mountain Home Care’s 10th anniversary observance of November’s National Family Caregiver Awareness Month, Lana Wilde found it difficult, if not impossible, to choose only one dual role caregiver to receive the company’s “Caregiver Leadership Award.” That’s why, in an informal, family-style reception themed “Caregivers are Everyday Heroes,” Friday, Nov. 22, from 2-4 p.m., the company’s owner and founder awarded each caregiver with a commemorative pin, a warm smile, and a grateful hug.
In 2003, when Wilde launched Mountain Home Care, she, too, was a dual role caregiver, with challenges and sacrifices the commitment entails. Inspired by her example, the “Caregiver Leadership Award” honors care givers as everyday heroes, recognizing excellence in the profession, and drawing attention to the growing challenges of health professionals in dual roles.
Today, Mountain Home Care remains western North Carolina’s leading provider of home care and geriatric services.
Dual Role Care Givers of Adult Children
Certified Nursing Assistant Larry Cottrell and his adult son, Charlie, were among the attendees at the event, held at the Arden Presbyterian Church Fellowship Room.
Cottrell is among the dual role caregivers employed by Mountain Home Care. Together with his wife, Cindy, a teacher, he shares care giving responsibilities for Charlie, now 32, who experienced a traumatic brain injury almost 13 years ago.
At the time, Cottrell was an accountant. The prognosis was grim, and he recalls that he Cindy felt that Charlie “was not given the kind of care a client should have been given.”
“There weren’t a lot of places he could go to get what he needed, so we were there every day,” he says.
Against the odds, Charlie slowly made progress, first blinking to communicate, later working with physical, speech, and occupational therapists. Finally, his family felt they could care for him at home with the help of a professional caregiver.
The Cottrells’ decision to care for their son at home is not uncommon. According to the national Family Caregiver Alliance, about one in every seven caregivers, or 14 percent, care for an adult child, for a total of about 52 million persons in the U.S. providing family care to those aged 18 or older.
Cottrell’s own experience as his son’s parent and caregiver may be at least partly responsible for his choice to change careers. When he lost his accounting job a few years ago, he decided to enter profession of nursing. In fact, he’s recently completed his course of study to become a registered nurse, and with board exams in his immediate future.
Nurses, only one segment of the population providing care to others at work and at home, comprise 88,190 members of North Carolina’s active labor work force. Statistically, as many as 29,400 to 44,000 nurses may also be dual role caregivers.
Employer Flexibility Increases Care Giver Success
What is needed so that care givers like Cottrell, with responsibilities at work, home, and on campus, can meet the challenges of dual roles and multiple responsibilities? Ideally, employers would assist parents caring for an adult child at home on a case by case basis, Cottrell says.
“Finding an employer who can split your shift so that the two parents can be at home when they need to be, or being flexible in some way…” he says. “That needs to happen. Mountain Home Care does that, and others try.”
Mountain Home Care’s Wilde agrees.
“Flexible work policies are necessary for nurses and other professional caregivers in dual roles,” says Wilde. “Employers who meet this growing need will find it contributes to the individual’s success.”
Currently, more than one-third to one-half of individuals in the U.S. providing family-based home care are employed outside the home, and those numbers are on the rise. Cottrell speculates that access to adult daycare facilities or telecommuting could help logistically.
Professionals Balance Dual Roles Successfully
The positive aspects of care-giving professions may be difficult to see for those who are unsuccessful in their attempts to balance dual roles, says Wilde. Thanks to their training, qualified professional care givers may be better equipped to manage the stressors.
Balancing dual care giving roles requires respite care and a solid support system, Cottrell says.
“Getting a break from the situation is important, because care-giving is tiring,” Cottrell says. “It has taken a lot of friends and family to make it work.”
Mountain Home Care, www.mountainhomecare.com, Arden, N.C. serves home and geriatric care clients throughout western North Carolina.