Heroes in the Home - Prestigious Award Honoring to Caregivers

Top Quote The patient had been a "difficult" case, with one home health care aide after another backing away from the task of tending to him, because it had to be done in shifts - two hours in the morning and two hours in the evening. End Quote
  • New York, NY (1888PressRelease) November 17, 2012 - Home care aides often refuse such assignments because the short hours coupled with the commuting time means little money for the hard work.

    That wasn't an issue for Marjorie Wahl. She agreed to care for the ailing man, who in the end paid Wahl the ultimate compliment. "The patient actually asked for her on his death bed. His last words were, 'Where's Marjorie?' It's amazing," says Wahl's employer, Anthony Riccobono, executive director of First Care of New York, a home health care agency.

    Such reverence may be its own reward, but New York home care professionals consider it worthy of award, which is why since 2000, the New York State Association of Health Care Providers has been handing out its Heroes in the Home honors to home care aides who've provided exemplary service to their wards.

    Marjorie Wahl is one of this year's recipients, and she understands why. "I think I got the award for being one of the best workers - giving them loving care and understanding," says the Bronx resident.

    The trade association official in charge of the program agrees. "It was established to recognize and honor all the dedicated workers who provide thousands of hours of home care each and every day," says Claudia Hammar, the association's senior vice president. The award - which is officially titled the Heroes in the Home Statewide Caregiver Recognition Program - can be given for any type of praiseworthy home care service.

    "It could be for doing something heroic, like in the current [post storm] situation in New York. Or agencies might recommend someone who's been a rock, a consistently reliable caregiver that goes in the home every day whom the clients love," says Hammar.

    One of those rocks is home health care aide Beth Thomas of Brooklyn - another 2012 Heroes in the Home award-winner -who's been assisting patients of First Care of New York for almost a decade, which is an unusually long tenure for a home care worker.

    "Beth Thomas, I can say, has been an employee with us since '04. There's some serious longevity there. She's just an exemplary employee," says Riccobono.

    Home care is often tough work, which is why aides like Wahl, Thomas and dozens of others across the state are singled out by the program every year.

    "You have a lot of patients that are hard to please and most people don't have the patience to get along with them," says Riccobono. "Both Beth and Marjorie have the patience and know-how and willingness to work with the patient through their difficult situations to help them move forward."

    The awards are given out by each of the eight chapters of the New York home care association. Member agencies nominate their most hard-working employees, who are officially recognized by the association in October, according to Hammar.

    The number of recipients varies by the chapter. In New York City, about 50 home health care aides receive the honors each year. In Hudson Valley and Long Island around 30 workers make the cut, while in western New York the number of winners comes out to about a dozen.

    Each chapter decides how to fete the honorees, but generally there's a breakfast or dinner celebration where the awards are presented, Hammar says. Hammar considers the Heroes in the Home program to be essential recognition, but it may pale in comparison to the appreciation home care workers receive from their patients and families.

    "From my own personal experience, I can't stay home with my parents. We need to have people in the home who care for them," she says. "To be able to have people that love our parents like we do, who really bring in that level of care - it's so comforting. You don't have to worry if they've fallen down or if they're eating properly. And it keeps them independent, which lets them live longer.

    "They don't want to be institutionalized. Our caregivers help them do that. It's more than just providing food and the necessities of life," adds Hammar.

    Industry professionals say Superstorm Sandy will create a gale of award winners next year.

    Riccobono has his eye on one worker who went "above and beyond" for her client during Sandy. "She was with a patient throughout the whole time, and there was no light, no electricity. It was incredible to hear this," he says. "That's a prime example of being heroic and going above and beyond. She was just there for her patient."

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