Husband/Wife Caregiver Teams A Plus For Clients And Each Other

Home Instead Senior Care of Trumbull and Sandy Hook, owned by Sharon and Robert Massafra, is part of the network of franchises providing thousands of people worldwide with nonmedical companionship and care. The branch services clients in 33 area towns, and employs roughly 125 people, said Ms Massafra.

Among those 125 employees are three husband and wife teams, Ms Massafra said, two of whom are from Newtown.

Bonnie and Bob Stampp of Sandy Hook, and Sue and Kevin Corey of Newtown all work for Home Instead Senior Care doing light housekeeping, shopping, assisting with personal care, and providing companionship to elderly or incapacitated clients.

“Sometimes, it’s something as simple as having a cup of coffee with a client, or taking them out to lunch,” said Ms Stampp.

A retired nurse and former administrator for SouthMayd in Waterbury, a home for elderly women, Ms Stampp has worked for Home Instead on and off for eight years. Mr Stampp joined her five years ago, after retiring from teaching.

“I find the part-time work appealing, along with helping people,” Mr Stampp said, who assists clients between 10 and 15 hours each week. With nine grandchildren, they like having a flexible schedule that allows them to spend time with family, he said.

His wife encouraged him to join the Home Instead family after he retired, pointing out that there are a lot of male clients who prefer a male caregiver.

Working with different clients but in the same field has benefits, Mr Stampp said.

“I’ve been called upon to cook meals, so I ask Bonnie for suggestions. Some of my clients have specific nutritional needs and I need to have that information. Bonnie, or staff at Home Instead, can give me that input. I defer to Bonnie, too, because she’s the nurse,” he said. “When I have concerns, I run it by her, and then call the office,” Mr Stampp said.

Home Instead caregivers can provide only nonmedical assistance, but regular contact with their assigned clients means that they are often aware when issues are presenting.

“Sometimes,” Mr Stampp said, “I will call the family if there is something I think they need to know. Or there might be things I want to let the office know, so far as health or safety concerns,” he said.

Scheduling time off together can be a challenge, as they each have different clients needing them at different times. But they try to keep Thursdays and Saturdays free to spend together.

Both of the Stampps feel that the work they do is rewarding, not only for the client directly, but for the extended family. “Providing respite for family members who are caregivers is important,” Mr Stampp said. They have found that in some cases, a husband or wife might request help for the other, and then it turns out that the person who called is the one in greater need. “They need help dealing with the situation, and just need relief,” said Ms Stampp.

In other instances, they are the link between clients and family members who live far away or work all day. “I like the interaction between family and clients that I see,” Ms Stampp said.

“What’s really nice is that we as senior citizens are reaching out to seniors. We can see ourselves in that position one day. And if my parents were alive and had no one, I would hope someone would reach out to them,” Ms Stampp said.

“We supplement our income,” Mr Stampp added, “but I think even if we did not, we would volunteer.”


A Change In Careers

Sue and Kevin Corey have been a team for a shorter period of time. Just this past September, Ms Corey became a Home Instead caregiver, after 22 years teaching primary grades in Norwalk. Her husband has been employed with the company since 2005.

A former accountant for Pepperidge Farms, Mr Corey decided in 2005 to try his hand at pet sitting. But when an elderly woman contacted him through his ad to help her out with errands, he discovered that he liked working with older people. “I was taking her shopping and to doctor appointments, and that kind of thing, and I enjoyed doing that,” Mr Corey said. So when he saw the Home Instead table at the Lions Club Duck Race that May, he got in touch. “I’ve been with them since,” said Mr Corey, working five hours each week. He also continues to work with private clients.

Ms Corey was not a stranger to caring for the elderly when she was hired by Home Instead. In addition to teaching, she had cared for her husband’s elderly cousin for six years.

“When she passed away in May, I decided to retire from teaching and work with older people. I love it,” Ms Corey said. “Working with elderly people can be very similar to working with children. They both need help,” she said.

Like the Stampps, the Coreys assist their clients with personal hygiene, take them shopping, or provide companionship.

“It’s a big issue with older people when they can’t drive anymore. They feel stuck inside their homes, so it’s good to get them out,” Ms Corey said.

She provides free time for the wife of a man with Parkinson’s, in one instance, and makes sure he is eating well and doing his exercises. Stimulating conversation is a priority for this client, so she makes sure to stay current on the news.

“The other client I have is turning 97 years old. She just wants somebody to chat with and do a little walking,” Ms Corey said.

Mr Corey cares for two Home Instead clients. “One is for companionship. We go out to lunch, watch movies together, and I take him to the library. My other client needs help with errands around town,” he said.

Sometimes, said Ms Corey, juggling their calendar gets a little crazy. “We don’t always see each other,” laughed Ms Corey. When they do have time together, working for the same company actually gives them a lot to talk about.

As Home Instead caregivers, one thing that both the Coreys and the Stampps have learned is patience.

“You need to be patient,” said Ms Corey, “and people like Kevin. He’s a good listener.”


A Calm Attitude

The increase in patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s also requires a calm attitude, Ms Stampp said. “They can’t always communicate well, so that calls for additional patience,” she said.

It is the training and ongoing classes provided by Home Instead Senior Care that makes their jobs easier, said the husband and wife teams. All four have taken part in a recent Alzheimer’s course, and the Stampps are part of an ambassador program, introducing new caregivers to clients and following up to ensure compatibility.

“Home Instead offers monthly workshops on all kinds of health-related issues. They have done a great job over the last five years of giving me all the tools I need to do the job,” Mr Stampp said.

There is a strengthening of their own relationships, said the couples, as they work to help others. “But the best part,” Ms Stampp said, “is when you ring the doorbell and they are so happy to see you.”

“We like having teams [of husbands and wives],” Ms Massafra said. “They can cover for each other when needed, and support each other.”

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