OUT AND ABOUT: Touched in the heart. Caregivers fill vital role for business, clients (w/ video)
BEMIDJI -- Close to six years ago, Joan Lueth and her siblings had a tough choice to make.
Their father, Vernon, had passed away unexpectedly. Vernon had been the primary caregiver for their mother, Virginia. With Vernon gone, the siblings didn’t know where Virginia would receive the care she needed.
“Not really being fully aware of what was available to us, and you don't normally look for those kinds of things until you need it,” Lueth said. “When we found out that a 24-hour situation would be possible, with Touching Hearts, it was no question that that would be our option.”
Virginia was the first, 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week client of Touching Hearts at Home, a home care service that opened in Bemidji in 2008.
Cheri Carey, operations manager, has been working for the organization since its beginning, when she ran the business out of her home.
“I pretty much do everything, a lot of scheduling. We do scheduling of all our caregivers and I do payroll, I do hiring, interviewing new clients. Just anything that it takes to keep it running,” Carey said.
Touching Hearts at Home serves close to 60 clients, anywhere from two hours a week to all-day every-day care, with the services of 40 to 50 caregivers.
“It could be just a minor as housekeeping, or just a companion. All the way up to pretty much the cares of the house. We do meal prep and planning, laundry, transportation to doctors appointments, going to get their groceries, any kind of errands. Sometimes it’s just to spend time with them to activate their mind and be a companion for the day,” Carey said.
Being a caregiver doesn’t require a license but a passion to work with people. When Carey is matching clients and caregivers she pays attention to likes, dislikes and personalities of both in hopes to find a good pair.
“We quite often hear, you know, clients and caregivers, it's like they are family members,“ Carey said. “We want to keep it professional but that companionship and that closeness is what makes it special.”
That is the case for Kristie Lindahl, a caregiver who has been working with Touching Hearts at Home and Virginia for the past six years.
“I became interested in it because I was staying at home, taking care of my grandpa who moved in with us for the last six months he was alive,” Lindahl said. “I saw the Touching Hearts ad and so I applied and I think it was just from taking care of my grandpa.”
Lindahl spends three days a week with Virginia, including two overnights.
“This is the first job that I’ve had that I don't feel like it's a job,” she said.About Out and About
Out and About is a Pioneer feature where we profile everyday people doing everyday things in and around Bemidji. We run stories on Tuesdays. If you know someone you think should be profiled, please email Maggi Stivers at email@example.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.