As the continuing care community of the Archdiocese of New York, ArchCare provides nearly 6,000 aging and disabled people each day with the healthcare and other support they need to stay healthy and live safely where they are most comfortable. Just a few years ago, nearly all these people lived in nursing homes. Today, the Catholic health ministry serves 70 percent of them at home or in the community, keeping them independent and close to the people they love for as long as possible.
With more seniors than ever living outside nursing homes, helping the spouses, children, siblings and others who care for them has become an increasingly central part of ArchCare’s mission. ArchCare calls them “the unsung heroes of healthcare,” and over the last year has launched an online caregiver support system, introduced an innovative community service time bank and established a growing network of parish and community health advocates, all created with the needs of family caregivers in mind.
Accessible from ArchCare’s website at archcare.ecarediary.com, Care Diary is a free online support system designed to help family caregivers manage their loved one’s care while looking after their own lives as well.
The Care Diary toolkit includes an online calendar for coordinating medical and other appointments and tracking medications, as well as a journal in which to record doctors’ instructions, observations and other details. Personalized contact “circles” make it easy to keep relatives and friends informed about patient’s condition, and an online repository of articles, videos and other content from health and caregiving experts puts vital information right at caregivers’ fingertips. Users can also join online conversations with a community of fellow caregivers to seek advice and share experiences with others who are coping with similar situations.
Parish Health, Wellness Network
ArchCare’s growing network of parish and community health advocates helps families access the medical, social and other services they need for themselves or someone they care about. Often it’s a concerned neighbor, pastor or physician who seeks help for an individual or family who seems to be struggling.
That was the case for Manuel, whose parish priest, Father Peter Mushi, saw the toll that caring for his wife, Francisca, who has dementia, was taking on the aging East Harlem resident.
“He didn’t have too much help,” Father Mushi said, “and he was suffering.”
So Father Mushi called Saby Baizan, an ArchCare nurse advocate who stopped by the church regularly to check on aging parishioners. Soon, Francisca had 24/7 access to medical care and other support through ArchCare’s PACE program, and the family had help from a home health aide and home care nurse.
“We’ve got a chance now,” Manuel says. “We’ve got a chance now because we have help.”
After a taxi accident left her unable to leave her house unassisted, Clarita would lie awake at night asking God why she needed to live. The Bronx resident had always faced the stigma of being a little person, but the added physical challenges and her mother’s recent death left her lonely and depressed.
Then Clarita met Carmen through ArchCare’s TimeBank, a free service that connects people who need assistance with volunteers who have the time and energy to help. When Clarita needs to leave her house, Carmen helps her make her way to a nearby bus stop in her wheelchair. But she also provides Clarita with much-needed companionship.
“I’ll come over and help her decorate for Thanksgiving. For Christmas I’ll help her do the Christmas tree,” said Carmen. “In return, Clarita tutors Carmen’s two daughters, renewing her sense of purpose in life.
“If it wouldn’t have been for ArchCare’s [TimeBank] program, I may have just given up,” Clarita said. “I feel like they are a part of my family and I am part of their family now. Without ArchCare, I would be very, very lonely.”
To learn more about ArchCare’s services, including its growing array of community resources and services for caregivers, go to www.archcare.org or call 855-951-CARE and speak to an ArchCare Care Navigator.