CareOne Hospital Liaison Shares her Family’s CareOne Story
Today, an app called TimeHop, posted an emotional picture from 8 years ago that prompted me to write this story. It was a picture of my 93- year-old grandmother and my three babies celebrating a birthday at CareOne.
As a Hospital Liaison for the Elder Care Company, CareOne Management, I’m often asked by patients whom I meet bedside “Would I put my own loved one in one of my facilities?” The answer repeatedly, is “Yes”.
In my 11 years with the company, marketing the rehabilitation division of the Southern New Jersey region , I have entrusted in the care of not one but, 4 of my immediate family members (my grandmother, my aunt, my father, and my mother)
My Italian grandmother had been living alone in a 2-story row home in South Philadelphia, with early onset dementia. She fell often and always forgot to put her cigarettes out. Those steep stairs were no easy climb either. We tried full-time live-in resources and what we thought was the poshest rehab on the main line. Both failed attempts. In 2008, I had just started with CareOne but, was in awe of it’s beauty and already proud of care at both the Evesham and Moorestown campuses.
Before pitching the idea to my close-knit South Philadelphia family members, I knew I would be asked a million questions. “How does the food look and taste?” (Her favorite saying was mungia mungia) “What does it smell like?” “Will there be activities?” “Is the staff friendly?” “What if stubborn grandma refuses to do rehab or stay for that matter?”
I knew how to answer all of the above. The dietician had a last name harder to pronounce than mine… I knew grandma would love him. The chef made fresh pasta at times with an old fashioned roller… which was right up her alley. When visiting the center, I often heard Frank Sinatra playing on the electric piano or live entertainment playing her favorite songs. Her Phillies games, I knew would always be available for her to watch and of course the only smell to take in was that of cleaning products (which she loved…she was always cleaning) at the time Toya Casper, our CCO today, was the Administrator of Evesham so the question “Are the staff friendly?” Well that was a silly one, it only takes a minute to fall in love with her.
My grandmother went through rehab successfully but due to the dementia she wasn’t safe to return home. My father and aunt sold her home and moved her in as a permanent long-term care resident. After a few years we eventually transitioned her to hospice through CareOne’s Ascend Hospice. It was time, she wanted to see her Giuseppe. I’m forever grateful for the care she received at the end of her long fulfilled life. My son still has fond memories to this day visiting nana and watching those lovely fish in the lobby area.
A few years later my pop pops sister, the family Matriarch, the last one to to carry on the Ciocco name of her generation was diagnosed with cancer. She was so special to all of us. We didn’t want to loose that legacy so where she went to get stronger was so important. Again, pulled from a city area rehab due to lack of progression, I convinced the family to try rehab at CareOne Moorestown. She successfully in her 80’s got strong enough to transition to Assisted-Living where she remained for the rest of her life.
Just recently, my 72-year-old mother was found down in her bathroom in the middle of the night confused and unable to stand. She was rushed to the ER. Her diagnosis was urosepsis. My 72-year-old father in an attempt to follow the ambulance suffered a stroke while driving and ended up confused 60 miles away. We luckily got him back safely and both he and my mother were admitted to Virtua Voorhees. Again, faced with the decision about what was going to be the best plan of care for both of them, my siblings and I decided to put them together (married 54 years) in a shared room at CareOne Evesham. They wouldn’t have it any other way.
Mom walked with a walker, drove a scooter in stores and was notorious for staying in bed for days on end with some kind of illness. Dad our soldier and leader was not himself. I felt like I lost the man I knew my whole life. As, the only daughter, I knew I couldn’t be the caregiver of two elderly parents, care for their home, pets, bills, plus work at my job and take care of three children and my own household. I needed time….I needed help, my brothers needed help.
My faith with the two most important people in my life was in the hands of my employer. Both admitted just 4/5 short months ago. The two did great! They loved their therapist Christine, their CNA Alvin and all of their nurses. Mom under the care of Dr. Giacobbo came home without a chronic foley (the hospital said she would need it long- term) and able to walk independently. I hadn’t seen her so “alive” in years. Dad, had endless teams coming into support him after the stroke. He was an avid poker player and big time CFO so therapy concentrated a lot on cards and numbers. A real, patient- centered approach. He transitioned successfully to a level one TBI program where he still goes presently by shuttle 3 times a week.
As, I look back at pictures like these, decisions I’ve made, some of the hardest times but many good times, I reflect on what I do and why I do it. When I meet patient’s family’s bedside, I’ve been where they’ve been. When I see older adults needing more care, I know how they feel to leave their forever homes or be displaced. I’ve witnessed it. When I see adult children with guilt, care-giver fatigue, anger and sadness, I know how they feel, I’ve made those tough decisions, I’ve walked in their shoes and still am dealing. I feel like, I relate to almost all the patients I meet on some level. I know when I walk out of those hospital rooms and I’ve just talked about my centers that there’s a truth to what I’m saying and that I’m not just “selling”. As a previous inpatient social worker, Director of case management, a family member touring, or a liaison educated on her market, I know what’s out there! A lot of promises for care that are not delivered. My story is meant to educate and influence not a means of guilt or sympathy. . If I ever had to do it all again, I would choose CareOne. Thanks for the memory today, with gratitude, Christa