John Rollins of Van Wert is thankful for local services that were made available to him while he cared for his wife, Ethel, as she battled dementia.
“Home care helped me a lot,” Rollins said. “I had my mind made up early that we were going to keep her at home.”
But as many caregivers will attest, making that goal a reality can be difficult. For Rollins, help was found through CHP Home Care & Hospice and adult day services.
“Our goal as an agency is to offer as many services as possible to assist families who are caring for aging, disabled, injured, or ill loved ones and help keep them at home,” said Cindy Sinning, RN, Nursing Supervisor for CHP Home Care & Hospice of Van Wert. “We were founded back in 1975 as a home health care agency, and that has always been our primary focus.”
Through CHP, a schedule was developed to meet both Ethel’s care needs and John’s needs as a caregiver. Home health care nurses and aides from CHP came to the couple’s home twice a week to check on Ethel, assist with her medications, and give her a bath.
“I was impressed with how they worked together – coordinating schedules – to cover her needs,” Rollins said.
But because Ethel’s health rendered her unable to do anything for herself, even home care alone was not enough to relieve Rollins of the constant need to provide care for his wife.
“John was one of the strongest caregivers I’ve seen in all my years of home care,” said Sinning. “He did everything for her including feeding her, transporting her, lifting her, taking her to bed.”
It was all done out of love, but nonetheless, it took a toll on him. So, CHP’s Adult Day Center was added to the mix and for three days a week, John transported Ethel to the center to have her daily needs taken care of, and just as importantly, give him some time away.
“I could run to do errands, pay a bill, and go home and relax and kick back a while,” Rollins said. “It meant a lot because her care needs were constant.”
Eventually, Ethel’s health continued to decline to the point that her physician mentioned hospice care. Rollins said at first, he was not on board.
“Hospice has a stigma to it,” said Rollins. “But, I found that it can be positive because it’s so much help. I really relied on the nurses to guide us through this.”
Rollins appreciated having local nurses and staff that were not only familiar names and faces but were readily available whenever there was a need.
“I called to talk to our nurse, Deb, and she was there right away,” Rollins said. “They answered questions, stayed late, taught me how to keep her comfortable, and provided information about what to expect. I would call and ask them to talk me through things and they’d do it.”
Ethel Rollins spent over a year on hospice services at home before passing in February. As he reflects back now, Rollins describes it all as a “very positive experience.”
“I think the mental and emotional support of hospice helped me more than the physical because I’m the kind of guy who thinks [when faced with the difficulty of caring for a loved one] you just suck it up and do it. But you don’t realize how much help you need.”
Even now, the support of hospice continues as staff checks up on him and bereavement support services are offered. Having experienced it first hand, Rollins now says he recommends that people in similar situations consider hospice earlier than later.
“I tell people to look into it,” he said. “I should have inquired more. I tell people don’t be afraid to ask questions. There’s so much that hospice can do.”
Footnote: In February, CHP announced that it was re purposing the Van Area Inpatient Hospice Center effective April 1. The facility is now closed, but work is progressing on developing new opportunities for the building. Updates will be provided as plans materialize.