Long-term care providers show compassion

Published 9:15 am Monday, May 16, 2016

Guest Column by Sue Callahan

In August 2013 I flew home to Chicago to visit my mom and dad for what I thought would be a weeklong visit. I had no idea what was in store for me, although I knew my dad was battling lung cancer. Four of my five brothers live close by my parents and two of my brothers accompanied my dad to his chemo treatments and had encouraged me to not put off coming for a visit. Something in me also said that I must go sooner rather than later, and so I did. I am so glad that I took the

Sue Callahan

Sue Callahan

opportunity at that time with the encouragement of my family, friends and co-workers, but I had no idea what the next 10 days held. Another brother, who lived in Georgia, unbeknownst to me, also had arranged to fly in to Chicago in the afternoon the same day I did. He also felt compelled to not put off a visit to see my dad. My dad steadily declined, and my brothers and I became his caretakers, 24/7, as my mom was weary from her nonstop duties to that point. We had no idea that my dad’s time would be that short. My brothers were also amazing with their compassion and willingness to dig in and help wherever they could. We worked as a team and are so grateful to have the privilege to have had those last days with our dad as his caretakers.

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I tell this story as I am humbled every day in my work at Thorne Crest Senior Living Community, by the dedication, caring and compassion that so many of our employees and caretakers — i.e. housekeepers, maintenance, dietary, activities, wellness, business office and especially nursing staff, exhibit for our residents, day in and day out. They perform the responsibilities of their everyday job functions with respect and dignity for the residents in our continuing care retirement community along with a million and one other duties that go above and beyond their job descriptions. The American Baptist Homes of the Midwest, of which Thorne Crest Senior Living Community is a part, subscribes to the mission “to create healthy Christian communities that empower older adults, families and people with disabilities. Providing choices for housing, services and technology that enrich body, mind and spirit.” Our staff work as a team to give the best of themselves to keep our residents happy and healthy and living enriched, fulfilled lives. Long-term care communities are propelled by the love and caring dedication from individuals who seek to meet our resident’s daily needs with so much love and compassion. They are all professional caretakers, and their hearts are evidently in the right place at the right time.

As Emily Dickinson so eloquently wrote:

“If I can stop one heart from breaking,

I shall not live in vain;

If I can ease one life the aching,

Or cool one pain,

Or help one fainting robin

Unto his nest again,

I shall not live in vain.”

You are truly angels here on earth, and I am proud to be right there with you, shoulder to shoulder, caring for our residents and each other. Your personal touch is a gift to so many.   Thank you to all of you who care for people, no matter what their age, with all that is within you. You do not live in vain.


Sue Callahan is the human resources director for Thorne Crest Senior Living Community in Albert Lea. She can be reached at scallahan@abhomes.org.