When Little Things Make a Big Difference

Have you ever been surprised when someone thanked you  repeatedly for a small kindness?  We often do not realize the impact of our words and actions, especially when the gesture required little effort on our part.  Examples abound in the ministries of St. John’s Community Care.

People who have borrowed our medical equipment – sometimes for a few days; sometimes for years – return it with comments like “We could not have kept Dad at home without this equipment”, or “I don’t know how I could have managed without this wheelchair and bath bench.”  Those who are able often give a donation or designate memorial gifts to us in gratitude for the loan. Our Home Services Caregivers share their experiences with clients who, although paying for the services, express deep gratitude for a meal prepared, a listening ear, or the chance to laugh about memories shared.

We demonstrate the impact of “little things” regularly at our Adult Day Program in Collinsville with Wii bowling tournaments and a variety of activities utilizing our “It’s Never 2 Late” computer system.  Many participants are more engaged and less anxious when these high-tech resources are part of our schedule.  It may be just a game to many of us, but it is truly therapeutic to many of our participants.

We are delighted to announce that we have added a Wii system to Adult Day Program – Edwardsville, thanks to the generosity of Scott Credit Union.  I recently watched two participants competing to see who could knock down the most pins – with 100 pins on the lane!  The number of options available allows our staff to make the games compatible with a variety of physical and intellectual levels.

As we cannot yet afford an “It’s Never 2 Late” computer system for ADP – Edwardsville, we decided to explore less expensive options.  A staff member brought her e-reader and helped a participant who was generally very agitated to play some games on it.  He was mesmerized and much calmer.  That experience led us to explore how we might use IPads or other tablets in the program.  Staff decided that IPads were the best value for our uses, and we asked Hortica if they might donate toward the cost of an IPad and case for each location.  They generously agreed to pay for both!  The IPads will give our staff another great option for individuals when group activities don’t work for them, giving them additional reasons to look forward to attending.

As always, we are deeply grateful for the gifts and support we continue to receive from our community.

Games and entertainment are not generally essential to the work of our Home Services Program, whose Caregivers are most often busy with tasks like laundry, meal preparation, housework, and helping clients with bathing and other personal care.  That said, the social interaction between St. John’s Caregivers and Home Services clients is often a key to the client’s well-being. Isolation is a reality for someone who cannot easily leave their home.  Even when the need for outside help is clear, it is difficult to invite a stranger into one’s home.  A new client generally relaxes after learning that St. John’s Community Care carefully screens and orients our Caregivers, doing background checks which include fingerprinting.  What becomes even more important is the care with which we assess an applicant’s reason for seeking this type of work.  We do our best to hire people who generally enjoy caring for older or ill people and who find themselves fulfilled by knowing how important their role is.

I am proud to announce that our Home Services Program was recently reviewed by the IL Department of Public Health, which found we are in compliance with their standards and regulations, which are demanding.  Congratulations to Patti Haddick, Home Services Program Director, and Gail Shaw, Home Services Care Coordinator for achieving this rating.  And congratulations to our Caregivers, as well!  They are the hands, face, and heart of this program which provides compassionate, dependable care in nine communities near Collinsville.