“A Little Extra Help” Changes Lives

Categories: News, Other

Meet Kim, who “needs a little extra help,” and Jennifer, her CCS Long Term Care provider.

Caregiver Jennifer meets Kim and Vince to share plans for safety and activites for the week ahead.

Who cares for our low-income neighbors with physical and developmental challenges when family and friends are no longer nearby?

Who helps them avoid risks to physical safety, like fire hazards, loose carpets, and broken windows or doors?

Whom can they trust to help with worries posed by isolation, deteriorating health, or unscrupulous “friends?

CCS Long Term Care is there to help these men and women continue to live independently, sharing the joys, concerns, and mundane tasks of daily living. 

Kim and her husband Vince first met as students at the Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential, a visionary program developed for “brain-injured children,” and wed 25 years ago. Vince’s parents, formerly nearby, died some years ago, and other family members live thousands of miles away.

Our place looked like a tornado, Kim says of the day two years ago when Jennifer, their CCS Long Term Caregiver, first arrived at their modest home. Jennifer, a creative, energetic former first-grade teacher, laid out a “game plan” to address serious safety problems that had worsened in recent years: replacing light fixtures in the darkened kitchen and dining areas, repairing broken windows and appliances, and removing live candles, which had left scorch marks on furniture. Other homey touches soon followed, like hanging and framing art on the walls in every roomincluding cross-stitch projects by Kim herself.

At the same time, Jennifer helped Kim confront some neglected health issues. “She’s a trouper,” Jennifer says, reflecting on the many diagnostic visits and procedures Kim has recently undergone to improve her failing sight and dentition. “I can see now,” says Kim after the restoration of sight in one of her eyes.

Best of all, Kim’s mobility and balance are better than ever. She is proud of recently winning the Member of the Month award at the local gym she attends with Jennifer; over the last two years, she has lost 40 pounds. Im just her cheerleader, Jennifer confides, Kim does all the work! Kims gait and stability have improved to the point where she can use her walker to traverse the entire Des Moines Creek Trail.

Happy and relaxed in Jennifer’s presence, Kim shares family photos and other memorabilia. She is especially proud of the framed autographed photo of James Brown, one of the many celebrities she met while working at SeaTac on wheelchair and baggage tag details. Vince worked at the airport, too, prepping food for airline catering. He sometimes helps Jennifer with meal preparation and is comfortable with her presence in their lives. 

While Jennifer is unwilling to take credit for Kim’s tremendous growth over the last two years, it is clear that the structure and stability she provides for a few hours four days a week create a scaffold for Kim’s successes. In a free moment, Jennifer reflects on why she does this work. Not all people have family members to care for them.  I find it a privilege to come alongside people who just need a little extra to help keep them going and functioning well within their homes. I find this work challenging, interesting, and rewarding, especially when I see the smiles on their faces!

CCS LTC workers help with everything from household chores to personal care, like dressing, bathing, and transferring from the bed, for a few hours a day or around the clock. CCS brings personal care with dignity within reach of people from all income levels, in the homes they cherish. We also provide congregate meal programs in Pierce and King counties, and a home-delivered meal program for senior adults in Pierce and Lewis Counties. To look at all CCS programs for seniors and people with disabilities in Western Washington, visit our website.