Founder of Our Family Home Advocating for Better Alzheimer’s Care

Evan DuBro presenting at TEDxColumbusSalon

Evan DuBro is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Our Family Home. He is a long-time member of the Alzheimer’s Association and currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Central Ohio Chapter. He was a member of the Association’s Advocacy Committee, where he lobbied for increased funding for Alzheimer’s research and better care, before recently joining the Care and Support Committee.

Working in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Association, Evan has become a trusted speaker on topics relating to Alzheimer’s and dementia care, such as:

  • Recognizing the signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease
  • Understanding the basics of dementia
  • Finding the right home: navigating the murky waters of memory care
  • The reality of caregiver stress

This past August, Evan shared in his first TEDx talk the journey that led him to create Our Family Home. After caring for his grandparents and later his own mother as they battled Alzheimer’s disease, Evan decided he wanted to change the way we care for those affected by memory diseases. In 2007, Evan founded Our Family Home believing that small homes, well-trained staff and connection-based care could change the way we care for seniors with memory disease.

Evan has also been a guest lecturer and speaker in various industry and community groups, including recently being chosen as a guest on “The Retirement Trainer Podcast” where he had a candid conversation with host, Ed Siddell, about his personal connection to Alzheimer’s and navigating long-term care planning.

Evan’s connection to Alzheimer’s and memory care diseases have affected him personally and that’s why he continues to advocate for better care and Alzheimer’s Awareness.   Please contact us today if you would like Evan to speak at one of your upcoming events.

The Right Partnerships Another Key to More Good Days

Providing a high level of care for our residents starts with our caregivers. Fortunately, working alongside our team of caregivers are an incredible team of skilled nurses, physical therapists, clinicians and hospice teams. This month we’re excited to share more about these important relationships and how we work together to provide the best for our residents.

Enliven Home Health is a full-service home health and skilled nursing organization in Central Ohio. Our Family Home has been working with Enliven for more than three years to provide services such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, skilled nursing services and social work support. They are one of many partners that we enjoy working with.

We sat down with Ashley Stewart to discuss her experience working in senior care and working with Our Family Home.

What is a typical day?

At Enliven, we see people in a lot of different settings so my days are never the same. Sometimes our team is visiting people in their homes and working closely with their families. We’re also in a lot of assisted living and memory care units and work closely with local hospice groups. This means our memory care clients are often in different stages of the disease. Some are still very independent while others are further along or in hospice.

What has it been like working with Our Family Home?

There’s a close-knit senior care network in Columbus, including Our Family Home. We continue to be impressed with the unique way Our Family Home runs their homes. The ratio of two caregivers to five residents helps limit the need for traditional home health services and increases the personalized care that they can offer.

How are they unique?

The care is personal. In some centers, all dementia residents are in the same unit. It’s much harder to keep the residents calm and work with them one-on-one or in small groups because you have individuals at such different stages of the disease.

With the team at Our Family Home, we’re able to work directly with Melissa Shannonhouse on finding appropriate activities to engage residents where they are or to help caregivers bond with residents when they move in. The team does a great job placing residents is the home where they can flourish.

I also find that living in a small home versus a large facility makes a difference for seniors with memory disease. Large centers can feel open and sometimes scary. In my experience, I’ve also found that it’s a lot easier to address behavioral or cognitive changes when you have a consistent team working with residents in a smaller setting. Someone is always a room away.

How do you help your clients find the right care?

If we’re recommending a change in care, particularly from a home setting to assisted living, our biggest priority is making it a smooth transition. We go into their homes and assess them there, where they’re most comfortable. Then we work closely with the family to guide them to a facility that will meet their criteria. We don’t have an agenda. We just want to be a resource to each family and help them understand what types of facilities are out there and what might benefit their loved one most.

What is your advice to families?

Many times, people don’t know what their family member needs until it’s too late. We often hear, “I should have found a place months ago.” The disease has progressed leaving them feeling ill-prepared and pressured to find a facility quickly.

Under these circumstances, we see well-intentioned family members who select the first facility that looks nice to them, but not the facility where mom or dad will do the best. I see this with families who tour Our Family Home. It’s a ranch house in an established neighborhood, not a fancy, sparkly new building. They don’t think their loved one will like it, without realizing it’s exactly what they need. They need the individual attention and care.

Finally, what do you enjoy most about your work?

Seeing my clients smile. When they have a smile on their face, it puts a smile on my face. I also really enjoy seeing people successful in their new environment or back in their home environment. My goal is for my clients to be at their max potential regardless of what level that means. I want to help them where they are and then make sure that any transitions they may experience are fluid and in their best interest.

 

 

Fostering a Failure Free Holiday

This month, we sat down with Our Family Home’s Marybeth Cartmille to talk about preparing for the holidays. She shared with us a few ways families affected by memory disease can make small shifts to reduce stress and focus more of your time on creating meaningful memories with those you love.

Savoring Meaningful Moments

Overall, Marybeth offers two important pieces of advice for families: First, have a plan. There’s a lot going on over the holidays, so it’s important to plan ahead. This gives you time to think about how to adapt activities and social gatherings with your loved one in mind.

Secondly, she encourages families to focus on the little moments. While certain traditions or activities may no longer be feasible, you can still find special ways to connect and create memories. Look for the little things and enjoy those.

In November, Marybeth will be co-presenting on Failure Free Holidays and gave us a sneak peek at a few of the tips they will discuss.

  1. Prepare yourself for a change of plans. Individuals with memory disease can get overwhelmed or disoriented easily, so it’s important to be open-minded about changing plans. Marybeth suggests keeping outings brief, focusing on smaller gatherings or encouraging one-on-one visits. She also recommends catering around their best time of day. “Rather than Christmas dinner, it might be better to do brunch or a lunch-time meal,” she added.
  2. Be open to new traditions. While it can be hard to let go of a long-standing tradition, it’s important to also consider new ones. Or try modifying existing ones. Decorate store bought cookies if baking them from scratch is too overwhelming. Drive around to look at decorations rather than putting up your own. Marybeth also suggests prioritizing traditions. Pick one or two that have the most meaning to you and focus on those.
  3. Provide updates to family and friends. Marybeth recommends providing updates to family or friends before they visit. Be open about where they are with the disease and honest about what your loved one can and cannot do or that certain behaviors aren’t uncommon. A lot can change in a short amount of time and these small updates can have significant impact on how well the visit goes.
  4. Set realistic expectations. A loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia may not be able to participate in activities that they once adored and they may only be able to hold their attention on a task for a short time. “I encourage people to consider breaking things down into smaller tasks. At Our Family Home, we know our residents love to help make cookies. We try to keep them engaged by breaking the project down into specific tasks and giving them really specific things to do,” adds Marybeth.
  5. Focus on the process not the outcome. Spending time with residents and going through the Alzheimer’s journey with her own father-in-law, Marybeth emphasizes this advice, “Don’t allow yourself to worry about the end result. Enjoy the small moments and joy of doing a project together and focus less on what it will look like in the end. It’s the time together that counts.”

If you have a loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia or know someone who does, we hope you will also consider joining us on November 19 from 5:30 – 7 p.m., as we partner with Buckeye Family Home Care and Vitas Healthcare to host a workshop on Failure Free Holidays. Workshop details and registration information can be found here.

Meet Marybeth

Employee Spotlight: Marybeth Cartmille
Director of Marketing & Admissions

 

What do you do for Our Family Home?

I am the Director of Marketing and Admissions for Our Family Home. I am responsible for admissions and marketing and am often the first contact with families. I also focus on memory disease education, host respite groups and workshops for individuals affected by memory disease and help with community engagement.

How long have you worked with Our Family Home?

I’ve been with Our Family Home for five years.

 

What do you like most about your work?

The people. From our families to our caregivers, I value the relationships I’ve built over the years with our families and with our team. I also enjoy that every day is different and every day I learn something new from our residents.

 

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

Outside of work, I enjoy going to the beach, spending time with my family and friends, cooking and reading. Marybeth also just got a new German Shepherd puppy named Dakota. Her four cats, Oliver, Lola, Callie and Mia are adjusting to their new “sibling”.

 

Have you been affected personally by Alzheimer’s or dementia?

Yes. My father-in-law had Alzheimer’s disease. I’ve been in this field for more than 10 years and was aware of how this disease affects people, but it was still very hard for me. I think the most difficult part was that he couldn’t appreciate the amazing people our kids were becoming as adults because of the disease.

 

What have you learned working with residents of Our Family Home?

I’ve learned that no matter where a resident is in the disease process, they can still teach us something new every day. They also show me joy. Even though the dementia has taken their memory, they still experience joy and they still share their joy. Whether it’s a hug or a complement, they’re still giving us their love every day and we do the same.

 

How does it mean to give residents and families more good days?

Our amazing staff! We believe in giving our caregivers the tools to be successful. When they have the right training and the right resources, they are better able to give our residents more good days. We empower our staff and provide a therapeutic environment.

We also have a knowledgeable and experienced clinical team, which is a foundation of our success. Our team is able to help determine what our residents might need, and they help our caregivers understand what to expect if a resident has a change in medication or a shift in behavior.

Taking the time to get know our residents and our families gives them more good days, but taking time to know what makes them happy gives them joy.

Meet Oumou

Employee Spotlight: Oumou Share
Caregiver at Longview Drive location

Oumou (right) at our recent team building event

What do you do for Our Family Home?

As a caregiver for Our Family Home, I provide care for residents in our Longview home in Columbus. I coordinate activities for residents, help them with personal care and eating and spend time with them.

How long have you worked with Our Family Home?

I’ve worked at Our Family Home for six years.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

I enjoy talking with our residents and getting to know each of them. Most of all, I love when they tell their stories. Our residents are like family. We learn about each other and get attached to one another.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

I enjoy spending time with my kids, going to the movies, restaurants or Chuck E. Cheese.

What have you learned working with residents of Our Family Home?

I learn from our residents every day. I enjoy hearing their stories and learning what their life was like. I’ve been working with seniors and individuals with dementia for a long time and understand how important it is to love what you’re doing.

How does Our Family Home give residents and families more good days?

Caring for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia isn’t always easy. Sometimes our residents are in a good mood and sometimes they’re not. However, when you take time to get to know them, you learn what they like and what they don’t like. Some people like music, dancing or activities. Others like to go outside or to sit on the patio. Some like their hair or nails done.  We try different things at different moments to learn what they like and what they don’t.

Being in Their Moment

At Our Family Home, we focus our training and care model around being in their moment. Not to be confused with being in the moment. Many of our residents can’t remember things moment to moment, so it’s important for our caregivers to focus on their moment not ours.

It’s easy for people to toss around the phrase personalized care without ever really describing it. A lot of memory care centers tout their personalized approach to care, and for those to new to the industry, it’s worth asking what that means.

For us, personalized care means allowing residents and families to influence their own lifestyle within our homes. We don’t wake our residents at the same time or choose to only serve meals at set times. This is part of the uniqueness of our care model. We recognized early on that each person in our care is different. In our homes, we have early risers and night owls and we should accommodate both.

Taking the time to understand each person’s schedule allows our staff the time to interact with each resident in the best way for them. Caregivers can feed or serve meals to two or three residents and sometimes one-on-one.

Personalized care also means connecting and building real relationships. With an industry-low ratio of two caregivers to five residents, we give our caregivers the chance to develop meaningful relationships with our residents and their families. Our ratio also translates to greater longevity with staff. When there’s less turnover among staff, there’s more time for connection, respect and trust to build.

Our favorite definition of personalized care is being in their moment. When caregivers aren’t pressured to meet unrealistic expectations for meals and engagement, they’re given greater freedom to react to what each person needs. Instead of a strict schedule for the day, we equip our staff with routines that are meant to ease our residents through the day. However, through ongoing training, we’re able to empower our residents to interject what is needed in the moment.

The caregivers at Our Family Home take time to get to know each resident allowing them to incorporate activities or tactics meant to ease tension that can arise when serving individuals with memory disease. They get to know the residents and take time to learn about where they are in their disease, what they were like before the disease and what reaches through the disease to relax and calm them.

Offering a level of care that is unique to each resident in our homes is important to us. It starts with the training we provide to our care teams and extends into our purpose to give residents and families more good days.

One of our team members recently shared this story about the level of personalized care in our homes.

“I walked into one of our locations in Worthington to do a site visit and drop off some materials when I noticed one of our residents having a “tough moment.” Something had agitated him. Within no time, one of our caregivers turned on a baseball game and began singing, “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” The resident immediately began singing along at the top of his lungs. They stood with their arms around each other swaying, singing, and watching that baseball game without a care in the world. It brought tears to my eyes to watch this resident go from such a difficult moment to pure joy all because this caregiver was patient and understood what he needed in that moment.”

Meet Shega

Shega CaregiverEmployee Spotlight: Shega Kumnegere
Caregiver at Worthington-Galena Location

What do you do for Our Family Home?

I am a caregiver with Our Family Home at our Worthington-Galena house. My responsibilities include taking care of our residents, handling inventory and checking to see what we might need for the house.

How long have you worked with Our Family Home?

I have been with Our Family Home for seven years.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

I enjoy seeing the residents happy. Working with our residents and helping them also makes me happy.

What do you do you enjoy doing outside of work?

Outside of work, I enjoy gardening. I like being at home. I find joy in doing things around the house, like cooking, cleaning and spending time with my son.

What have you learned working with residents of Our Family Home?

I am learning every day. Most of our residents in this house are non-verbal, and for many of them, this is the last thing they are asking for in their life. Even though they might not be able to talk, I have learned I can still communicate with them and love them. When I do something they like, I can see it in their eyes. When they aren’t happy, I can see it on their face.

How does OFH give residents and families more good days?

Our Family Home gives residents ‘more good days’ by thinking and being positive. Whatever is happening at home or personally, we try to keep it at home and only give them a smile. Making our residents happy and interacting them is our main priority. I’m always trying to look them in the eye and smile. I want them to know that everything we do; we do from the heart. I’m also trying to care for them the way I would want someone to care for me.

OFH Caregivers Selected as Finalists for Caregiver of the Year

We are very proud to announce that two Our Family Home caregivers were selected as finalists for the Athletes Against Alzheimer’s Caregiver of the Year Award. Swedie Harris and April Bullock were recognized at the 2019 Fedora Ball for the commitment to serving seniors with Alzheimer’s.

Swedie, Evan & AprilAccording to Evan DuBro, founder and CEO of Our Family Home, “The heart of our organization is our caregivers. They are the ones who work tirelessly each day to give our residents more good days. When I started Our Family Home, I knew that our success would be most heavily impacted by the level of care and service we can offer to those living with Alzheimer’s and dementia. I am so proud to work alongside Swedie and April to care for our residents and am so happy that they are being recognized for all they do to serve others.”

The late Coach Earle Bruce was a long-time champion in the fight against Alzheimer’s Disease. Over the course of 12 years, Mr. Bruce hosted several events to raise money for a variety of funds and causes, with most efforts going to The Earle & Jean Bruce Alzheimer’s Research Fund at The Ohio State University. Through signature events and support, Mr. Bruce raised more than $1.6 million for the research fund. The Fedora Ball continues in his honor to support the work being done to find a cure for Alzheimer’s.

April & Swedie at the Fedora BallWe are extremely proud to share more about our amazing caregivers and finalists:

April Bullock is a caregiver and team lead at Our Family Home. As a team leader, she is responsible for managing the day-to-day activities at our Olentangy River Road home, including cooking, cleaning, laundry, scheduling and activities with our residents. April was nominated because of her remarkable commitment to her residents. She approaches every challenge with patience, determination and heart. Even in difficult situations, April has a special gift of establishing meaningful relationships with her residents. When one of the residents in her house was not eating well, April got creative. She remembered that he liked spicy food and started to sprinkle cayenne on some of his food and he started eating again.

When asked about her role at Our Family Home recently, April shared, “Every resident is different and we can tailor our care to their needs. What works for one resident is not going to work for another. We’re able to take the time to narrow things down and get to what they need. We’re also able to interact with family members. Just like if you’re at home and have family members stop by, we’re able to talk with them, listen to any concerns and put them at ease.”

Swedie Harris started at Our Family Home in 2007 as a caregiver and is now a care team leader. In this role, Swedie oversees everything happening in the home, including supervising caregivers and overseeing daily needs, such as scheduling, menu selection, cooking, cleaning and personal care of residents.

Swedie holds a special place in our hearts at Our Family Home because she was the very first caregiver hired. She helped us establish our high standard for personalized memory care and even cared for Our Family Home Founder Evan DuBro’s mom. However, it is more than her role helping to build an industry leading model of care that makes her worthy of the designation as Professional Caregiver of the Year. Swedie has a truly special gift for engaging and calming residents.

A few years ago, a colleague remembers visiting one of our houses to drop off some materials shortly after she started working with Our Family Home. As she entered the house, she noticed one of our residents having a “tough moment.” Something had agitated him. Within no time, Swedie turned on a baseball game and began singing, “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.”

The resident immediately began singing along at the top of his lungs. They stood with their arms around each other swaying, singing, and watching the baseball game without a care in the world. “It brought tears to my eyes to watch this resident go from such a difficult moment to pure joy all because this caregiver was patient and understood what he needed in that moment.”

We talked with Swedie last year about what she has learned working at Our Family Home over the years and she shared the following:

“I’ve learned that one-on-one care makes a difference. We have residents come from other places and are in bad shape. But, once we take care of them, give them love and attention, they live longer. We put our residents first. Our work come second. They do better when you take time and talk with them rather than rushing them into your own agenda.”

“We explain what we’re doing and ask them what they want. We let them have a say in what they do. We don’t rush them or force them into something. We also work to understand their personalities and offer care based on it. Sometimes that means telling jokes or singing. We understand that each person is unique,” Swedie added.

Please join us for the 2019 Walk to End Alzheimer’s

We are pleased to announce Our Family Home and CRT Realtors have partnered for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s on September 22, 2019. We hope you will consider either joining our team or choosing to support our walk financially.

Our Team Page:  http://act.alz.org/goto/OFHandCRT

Check in for the Columbus walk begins at noon with a seated opening ceremony at 2 p.m. The walk begins at 2:15 p.m. and is approximately 1.25 miles. The route begins at Huntington Park.

On behalf of Our Family Home and CRT Realtors, thank you kindly for your support.

Together, we can end Alzheimer’s disease!

 

Can’t join us for the walk but would still like to help?  Join us for our Local Cantina fundraiser to support our team!

September 9-13

Happy Hour: 3pm-6pm

Buy a PURPLE Margarita and $1.00 goes to the Walk to End Alzheimer’s!

Meet Faye

Employee Spotlight: Faye Scott
Administrative Assistant

What do you do for Our Family Home?

I am the Assistant to the CEO and support the team at Our Family Home. I’ve worked alongside Evan as the company grew from two homes to eight. I’ve done a variety of tasks from grocery shopping and ordering to property management. I continue to help with administrative duties and support the marketing team.

How long have you worked with Our Family Home?

I started with Our Family Home in January 2013.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

I really like being able to spend time in our homes with the staff and residents. I enjoy volunteering at Our Family Home events and being able to support the team.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

I enjoy spending time with my son, family and friends. I like swimming, reading and being outdoors. I also love attending local music and sporting events with my son. We enjoy cheering on the Buckeyes, the Blue Jackets, The Cleveland Browns and the St. Louis Cardinals.

What have you learned working with Alzheimer’s patients and residents of Our Family Home?

I’ve learned this horrible disease will impact nearly everyone. Most people will be affected either as a caregiver or as someone in need of care. I’ve also found the quality of care you receive is very important and having peace of mind that your loved one is receiving great care is priceless.

Have you been impacted by Alzheimer’s or memory disease personally?

Yes, my grandfather had vascular dementia and my grandmother suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. I’ve also been impacted by each of the residents who have come to Our Family Home.

How does OFH give residents and families more good days?

Our homes provide a well-designed environment in which our residents and their families can feel “at home.” But, I think the uniqueness is that we really become a family and give our residents a sense of belonging. At the end of the day, they may forget what you said but they won’t forget how you made them feel.

Also, I think this story helps demonstrate the level of care we offer: I walked into one of our locations in Worthington to do a site visit and drop off some materials for one of our nurses when I noticed one of our residents having a “tough moment.” Something had agitated him. Within no time, one of our caregivers turned on a baseball game and began singing, “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” The resident immediately began singing along at the top of his lungs. They stood with their arms around each other swaying, singing, and watching that baseball game without a care in the world. It brought tears to my eyes to watch this resident go from such a difficult moment to pure joy all because this caregiver was patient and understood what he needed in that moment.