5 min read
“People are the best part of care”
Meet Melissa Anderson, Policy Manager and guiding force behind Herewith’s team of Care Experts
When you have a conversation with Melissa, the first thing you notice is that she really listens to what you’re saying. The second thing you notice is that she knows a lot about in-home care.
A Certified Senior Advisor and a Client Care Coordinator at her own in-home care company before joining Herewith, Melissa has a wealth of experience connecting clients and caregivers. She exudes practical wisdom from years of hands-on interactions with families and care professionals, ensuring that Herewith isn’t just a great tech platform, it’s a place where people can find the answers they need about in-home care.
We had the privilege of sitting down with Melissa to hear a little bit more about her journey with care, what inspires her, and a bit of advice for family caregivers. Here’s what she shared in our interview...
How did you find your way to the field of senior care?
My grandmother lived with my family in our home for 15 years—many of those years were during my childhood. She was always a bright light in my life. She had an amazing ability to see the good in everyone, and gave the best advice.
As she aged and needed more assistance, we knew as a family that facility care wasn’t right for her, yet we were unaware there were options for support in the home. Fortunately, we were able to provide support as an extended family.
At the time, we didn’t know that she would have qualified for a VA pension to assist her (and us) in our goal to have her age in place. The more I found out about in-home care, the more passion I developed for it. I love the idea of one-to-one care tailored to each individual, provided right where most of us want to be…our home.
From a very early age, I have always had so much respect and admiration for the older adults in my life. Since I am someone who feels more fulfilled professionally when I am helping others, home care has been a great fit, and has given me the opportunity to develop friendships that I will always cherish.
What’s most rewarding about working with families and caregivers?
One of the greatest highlights has been the amazing people I have met along the way. I have many stories of people who have touched my heart and been a pleasure for me to work with and learn from. I’ve been inspired by the countless caregivers I have worked with who give selflessly every day to better the lives of others. In addition, seeing the sacrifices that families make to serve and care for their loved ones in their time of need is very moving.
One family in particular, used our services for their parents for many years. When we initially met, some of the (grown) children in the family felt assisted living was the best option for their parents, while others wanted their parents to be able to stay in their home. Finances were a concern and their mother had fairly advanced memory loss. We helped them get the Aid and Attendance Pension to help with the cost of care. Their mother was able to pass away at home after several years of our in-home care services. Their daughter and I spoke often, and she was so appreciative of the support that we gave her parents when they were in need.
Who have you looked up to as a care professional or in your personal life for inspiration and support?
I have been fortunate enough to have some really great mentors throughout my career. One being my own father. Being business partners with him when we first opened our in-home care company was a great experience for me. I learned a lot from him.
In addition, there are a couple of well respected Geriatric Care Managers/Certified National Guardians that I looked to as mentors. Two women in particular who were always so supportive and complimentary. Just having people to collaborate with, who understand the industry and its challenges, is a great support to me.
Now for a major topic with families and professionals: Can you share any tips on how to deal with caregiver burnout?
Caregiver burnout is a real thing. It is emotionally and physically challenging to be a caregiver whether it be personally or professionally. If there were one piece of advice I could give, I would say, find people you can talk to about some of your challenges and who can assist you in your responsibilities. Consider joining a support group with others who are in similar situations, and don’t be ashamed to ask for help when you need it. I also feel it is important as caregivers to take necessary breaks and do things that bring you peace and make you happy. When time is a luxury, it can be hard to do things for ourselves, however, it can have a great impact in assisting us to be better caregivers.
If you could share one piece of advice for families just starting out with in-home care, what would it be?
Don’t expect perfection from the care team on every shift. Instead, focus on the support more broadly. Try asking, “Is the assistance providing me with more security and safety? Does it make the day to day easier? Is it providing me with increased peace of mind?”
Sometimes people just starting out with in-home care services don’t try it for long enough to really see the benefits. For many of our clients, it was hard having people come into their home and assist them in a personal way, but with time, their caregiver became a welcome addition to the family.
I would also recommend giving newly hired caregivers a little time to learn the routine and preferences. As they learn, they will feel more comfortable and be able to assist with more confidence.
At the end of the day, what motivates you to continue your journey in the field of caregiving?
There are many things that draw me to caregiving, but first and foremost is the desire to help. For me personally, the reward is in making life a bit easier or more enjoyable for others. I also appreciate being able to build relationships, and feel fortunate to work with older adults and learn from their perspectives.
I am grateful for the opportunity I have at Herewith to continue to support families as they navigate the senior care landscape. The ease and protections that Herewith provides families in connecting with caregivers is really unique. Making home care more affordable and accessible is a wonderful mission, so more people can age in place.
Join us today!