Home Health Care Workers and the Business of Compassion

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Joseuly Claudio, 53, gets weekly checkups from Nurse Practitioner Mary McDonagh at Mt. Sinai Hospital's PACT clinic. (Fred Mogul)

Working as caregiver is a never ending job. It comes without pay or recognition and can feel extremely isolating. When the care a patient requires becomes too great, families often call in help from nurses and home health aides who become a in integral part of the support system.

That's the case for Margaret “Peggy” Battin—her husband Brooke is now severely disabled after a bicycling accident.

“Well it can be quite extraordinary. It's a community of people who care for him in a medical way but they also care about him," said Peggy. "I don't think it's a distortion to say that he has come to love them and they have come to love him. It's quite remarkable. It takes work to do this and that's what makes caregiving work. The part that he does, not just the part that they do.”

That two way street of care that Peggy discussed can be key to making any caregiving relationship work. Like in the case of the home aides working with Brooke, bonds with patients are created not just through medicine but also in the compassion they bring with them each day.

Amelya Blake and Jennifer Luciano know all about the business of compassion. Luciano is a Certified Home Health Aide and Blake is a Registered Nurse. They both work with the Visiting Nurse Service of New York.

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Amelya Blake and Jennifer Luciano

Produced by:

Megan Quellhorst


T.J. Raphael

Comments [2]

L from NYC

Regarding your show on long-term care. Here is a book. Possibly the only book on the subject.


Jul. 24 2013 04:15 PM
Nina from Manhattan, NY

I have been so grateful for your program--and right now, I'm listening to Mary's son-in-law Frank Medina talking about caring for Mary . . . He is lucky, in a way. I wish I had a home to keep my elderly mother in, and I wish I had the support that he has (though I realize he hasn't as much as he needs, and I recognize his description of having to "start all over again" each time a caregiver leaves, and also his description of watching out for his mother-in-law in the nursing home. These are very familiar accounts to me. No one should age alone. Everyone needs--at minimum--a loving advocate.). Here in New York City, I have been caring for my mother for the last eleven years, trying to honor and protect her desire to live out her life in her own home, and I have found myself increasingly isolated. At work, people act almost as if I have a disease or a weakness because I've been caring for her. Casual remarks from otherwise thoughtful colleagues have been stunningly distancing. I recognize the burnedout mark of other caregivers, who keep their situations quiet, and there's a support group that helps. Still, I had to give up much of a career that I loved and through which I felt so valued, and I had to give up extra earnings, so I'm in scary shape for my own retirement now . . . Finally, I got my mother into assisted living, and that's pretty good. I can begin to rebuild my own life, but I pray that the money I set a side for her will last, and I wish I could guarantee her the kind of tender care she deserves: someone who cleans her teeth each night, who listens to her and can talk with her and go places with her . . . It's not right, giving our elderly over to strangers, but most of our lives don't allow for the kind of flexibility we would need to do so . . . Thank you for this program.

Jul. 24 2013 04:10 PM

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