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Business of Care Franchisee Spotlight: Homewatch CareGivers of Western Massachusetts

In honor of Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, during the month of September we are spotlighting stories our franchisees have shared on how their businesses are part of the “Business of Care.” For more information on how you can be part of the business care, visit our Franchise Website.

“Each Friday, the Hampden, Mass. Senior Center hosts a Memory Café, an all-morning program that has become a highlight of the week for the 26 or so individuals who attend. About half of the group has been diagnosed with early or moderate stage dementia, and the other half consists of their care partners, who have come to anticipate an enjoyable few hours of assistance and respite.

Christina Vernon, a clinical social worker from our office, facilitates these sessions each week with the help of Crystal Colon, a CNA who specializes in caring for elderly dementia clients for the agency. Christina is a Licensed Master of Social Work and is a Certified Dementia Practitioner, who specializes in geriatric, dementia and hospice care. Her role involves the day to day running of the café, proactive engagement with the clients and care partners, evaluation and assessment of needs, and offering counseling and advice throughout the session.

As a caregiver, Crystal has a great way of gauging the interests and preferences of each client, and encouraging aspects of the activity that resonate with them. She is also available to assist with the personal care needs of the participants, and help throughout the morning and at lunchtime. Angela Morgan is another Homewatch CareGivers CNA who also attends when needed in the same capacity.

Funding for the Memory Café comes from the Mass Council on Aging through a grant given to the Hampden Senior Center. Wendy Turer, outreach coordinator for the senior center, developed and oversees this community program. The Memory Café’s key objective is to provide a context for socialization and engagement for those with a dementia diagnosis, and their family members. It offers a place where participants can be active socially, physically and mentally. For the care partner, the café offers respite, and a time of collaboration and connection with others who have similar caregiving experiences.

The group engages in a diverse set of activities and therapies, which are different each week. Some favorites have been: a beach theme party, which included making decorations, and art and music therapy projects. A recent Friday morning consisted of a team of children who came to learn about bridging the gap between elders and young people. Each child was paired with a dementia client and partner. They had conversations about what they had in common, and worked on a project together. There were so many smiles that day.

The various therapies have decreased periods of agitation and frustration in some participants, helped to manage bouts of depression, and given the group something tangible to look forward to each week.”

— Lori Mgrdichian, Homewatch CareGivers of Western Massachusetts

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