Thursday, May 23, 2013

When caregivers make a difference—Marcel and his swing

By Bob Gregory

I often write about how important it is to choose the right senior facility for yourself or your elderly parent. I try to give helpful hints, questions to ask, safety issues and activities that will keep you moving and be enjoyable.  I also take time to mention how the caregivers can make the biggest difference in the quality care you receive and how happy you will be in your senior facility.  Most senior facilities pride themselves in the quality of individuals they hire and the level of service they provide.  They are very careful to choose the right staff because in the end, it is a service business.  Not everyone is cut out to work in a senior facility such as an Assisted Living Facility or a Nursing Home, as it takes heart, compassion and dedication.  When you find a facility which employs caregivers with those traits, you’ve found a gem!   I’d like to share an email that I received from a friend who owns Westbrooke Manor Assisted Living in Zephyrhills, Florida regarding just such a person that happens to be his Activities Director.  See if you agree with me that this is the type individual, and thus facility, that you or your elderly parent would appreciate!

From: Alyson Stanina

Thursday afternoon I was covering Esy’s position at the front desk while she was on her lunch break. Marcel Lavoie rolled over to the desk in his wheelchair and said to me,” We need a big strong tree out there,” pointing to the front parking area. I asked why, and he replied,” We need a swing.” I continued the conversation and asked him if he liked to swing, and he mentioned he used to swing at the park for hours upon hours, feeding the ducks and squirrels and losing track of time deep in thought. He would ponder his life, his 2 marriages, his children, why this, why that. After listening to him some more, I thought to myself, ‘I can take him to the park to swing, why not!?’ So then I asked him…”Marcel, would you like to swing at the park with me? I will take you!” His face glowed, and he accepted. I told him we would go the next afternoon.

Friday came, and he had been pointing to his watch all day when I walked by him, wondering what time we were leaving. It was obvious he had been thinking about the outing since the day before. He was so excited.

The moment had come. We loaded Marcel in the van and off we went. We had bread to feed the ducks, birds, and squirrels. I helped Marcel onto the bench swing in front of the lake at Zephyr Park…and there we swung, for an hour. Pondering life, talking about his past…he talked and talked, so comfortably. Marcel thanked me for making this outing happen for him. And then he said something that broke my heart and fulfilled me, all at the same time. He said, “ I wish the good Lord would take me tonight. Now that I have done this, I am ready to go.”

It was then, when I heard those words from Marcel that I realized that I can make last wishes, if you will, come true. Something so simple as riding a swing in the park is all this man wanted to do.  Marcel is a quiet, sweet, gentle man, with a mind full of life’s regrets and a broken heart. What youmay not know about Marcel is that he has  Lou Gehrig’s disease, (ALS). His muscles are slowly wasting away, but his brain power is all there. He has gone from walking with no shuffle, to walking with a big shuffle, and finally in a wheelchair in the last few months. Marcel knows he has this disease and knows what will happen to him. He is so silently strong.

I learned a lot about Marcel and myself yesterday afternoon on that swing in that park.

Thank you for letting me have that opportunity, and the opportunity to change a life, so simply.”

Alyson Stanina
Activities Director
Westbrooke Manor Assisted Living
6701 Dairy Road
Zephyrhills, Florida 33542
(813) 782- 4417

Caregiving is not just a skill you learn and a routine you go through each day of the week.  Instead, it is a gift to be shared and showered upon those in need.  Yes, caregivers are paid a salary and work sometimes without a word of thanks, but they do it because they can make a difference—in this case, it was a difference in the life of a gentleman named Marcel!  I always encourage people in search of a senior facility to look beyond the décor and try to learn what’s at the “heart” of the facility—it’s the people who are the caregivers that make the facility a “home!”

If you would like a list Independent Living Facilities, Assisted Living Facilities, Nursing Homes or any other type of Senior Facility, I hope you will consider
If you would like to contribute your thoughts and ideas, please leave them in our comment section. We want to hear them. Helping people care for themselves or their loved ones is what we care about. 

We look forward to reading yours.

Bob Gregory is an advocate for Seniors and is one of the founders of At, we are dedicated to helping families get the Elder Care help they need without having to provide their personal information! If find you need an assisted living facility or other type of senior facility, please consider

Enhanced by Zemanta

1 comment:

  1. What a great story! Thanks for sharing your experience. Caregivers can truly make a difference in the lives of a senior and their loved ones. Keep the wonderful posts coming!

    - J from Home Instead Assisted Living in Salisbury NH