Having a loved one on hospice can be a complicated time balancing tender, loving experiences with the real stresses of logistics and caregiving. For many, it’s also a time when families and close friends pull together to help and comfort each other and spend time at their loved one’s side. But for those without an expansive support network nearby, it can be an even more challenging and stressful time.
John Shapiro, a Swampscott native who now lives in New York City, has extensive experience as a caregiver. In 1991 he cared for his father, and, with the help of Care Dimensions Hospice team, he cared for his mother in 2013. As a husband, in 2020 he cared for his wife Megan at their home in New York with the help of MJHS Hospice.
“Caring for a loved one on hospice is a very special time, but it’s incredibly stressful,” he said. “I was fortunate enough to have personal resources to bring in professional homecare assistants to help me, but many families struggle to manage all the care needs of their loved one while also balancing work, additional family needs, financial hardships and everyday responsibilities.”
With these experiences in mind, Shapiro was motivated to help others who need additional caregiving support at home, but do not have the resources available to secure extra help. He approached Care Dimensions with the offer to fund the provision of private home health aides to supplement care and support that some families desperately need. With a donation of $150,000 from Mr. Shapiro, the Care Connection program was established which enables Care Dimensions to incorporate an extra layer of home health aide support for its patients and families to help with personal care, meal preparation, companionship needs and more. Care Dimensions is only able to offer this program because of this wonderful donation, and it can only continue and be sustained through ongoing philanthropic funds.
“We’ve been able to help several families that were overwhelmed by caring for their loved ones at end of life for a variety of reasons,” said Lyn Skarmeas, VP and Chief Strategy Officer. In one case the adult children of a patient were taking turns staying up all night caring for their parent, then in the morning going to a full day of work. Keeping this pace was taking a physical and emotional toll on all family members. Through the Care Connection program, Care Dimensions was able to provide private home health aides to this family giving them some overnight care relief.
“Another elderly patient was relying on care from his wife who was 80-years old and had numerous health issues of her own. Without an extended family close by, all caregiver responsibilities fell to her, impacting her health and well-being. Through Care Connection, private home health aides were scheduled to assist this couple,” explained Skarmeas.
Care Dimensions’ interdisciplinary care teams who care for patients and families are very involved in identifying those who are in need of these services. The teams look at levels of caregiving stress, financial hardships, family/friend involvement and quality of life for the patient and family.
The goal of Care Dimensions’ hospice service is to meet the emotional, spiritual, and physical needs of both the patient and family. With the support from John Shapiro and his generous donation, Care Dimensions can provide additional support not covered by the hospice benefit.
If you are interested in helping Care Dimensions continue to offer the Care Connection program, please call 978-223-9787 or email [email protected].
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Since 1978, Care Dimensions, formerly Hospice of the North Shore, has provided comprehensive and compassionate care for individuals and families dealing with life-threatening illnesses. As the non-profit leader in advanced illness care, we offer services in over 100 communities in Massachusetts.