#MissionMoments - Right at Home Northern Colorado

Caregivers That are Trained and Empowered to Provide Person-centered Care

Right at Home Northern Colorado Caregiver Heather Quass

These caregivers turn tasks into activities and bring dignity and confidence to those receiving care. These caregivers are truly the RightPeople, providing the RightCare.

Heather Quass is an expert at delivering person-centered care and the RightCare Approach to Dementia and Cognitive Support. In her passion, competence, and commitment, Heather has created dozens of #MissionMoments; she has improved the quality of life for the clients and families she serves.

Here are just a few #MissionMoments Heather created by providing the RightCare.

Providing Personal Care and Building Trust

Right at Home began seeing a new client one day per week for shopping after coming to us from adult protection. Upon meeting him, we were concerned about his personal care and his ability to make his doctor’s visits, but he really didn’t want Right at Home to visit more than one time per week. However, after building some trust, he let us start taking him to his doctor’s appointments and even let us help him get new carpet installed.

As the carpet was installed, our team helped with a deep clean of his house; during that time a caregiver informed the office that water coming out of the bathtub was brown. This allowed us to talk to him about his personal care. He shared with us that he wasn’t showering because he was afraid of falling and he agreed to let us help him.

We organized a handheld shower head, transfer bench, shower chair, new bath mat, and new towels; then we introduced him to Heather. He was nervous, but Heather showed him the transfer bench, explained the steps in the activity, and then encouraged him through our first shower with him. Heather used this same approach to support him to use a walker, attend physical therapy, shop, eat a balanced diet, prepare meals, and clean the kitchen.

Because of Heather’s person-centered approach, he has more confidence, is willing to ask for help, and trusts Right at Home. This trust has allowed Right at Home to introduce him to two new caregivers and to extend care hours from one day per week to six days per week. When we asked him about Heather, he said, “I like her,” with a smile on his face.

A Client's Personal Care Experience

R. came to Right at Home after her daughter requested help with showers, errands, and companionship. This was the first time they needed assistance in the home; she didn’t know what we were going to do for three hours! Heather began visiting R. two days per week; this is what R. had to say about Heather:

“JOY, sums up the many facets of Heather being my caregiver for almost two years. From the soft knock and cheery, musical ‘Hello’ to a “See you Friday” again in fun tones.

Heather makes our three hours together special and memorable.Heather’s enthusiasm, attention to my individual issues, wonderful smile and outlook, patience, no matter how many times I forget to use both hands for balance, and sympathy and encouragement when experiencing a spasm of pain all bring positive support to my life. I am indeed fortunate.

Heather and I share opinions about a myriad of issues, whether personal perceptions or how someone is driving. Incidentally, she is an excellent driver and knows how to save King Soopers points at the gas station.

Just having Heather tug down my jacket after making sure my walker (Lamborghini) is placed so I have optimum balance and complimenting my efforts, no matter how tiny, is wonderful. When my hair is out of control in the back, Heather makes certain I am presentable.

Shower, bathing used to be scary since I am afraid of water. No longer! We’ve taken small steps. Now I can have a stream of water pouring over my face. No big deal!

I truly love Heather, as she does me, and hope she is with me the rest of my life, continuing to bring me JOY!”

The Importance of Familiarity for People Living With Dementia

We began caring for L., a retired farmer, 3 years ago in his early stages of dementia. When Heather began working with L., the family could not get him to wear clothes that were seasonally appropriate. After L.’s wife passed away, the family began putting L.’s clothes in his wife’s closet. Respectfully, Heather coached the family on the importance of familiarity and categorizing for people living with dementia. With this in mind, the family moved L.’s seasonally appropriate clothes to his closet and moved all others to his wife’s closet. Such a simple suggestion, but it worked. L’s family said this:

“Heather has been a companion to my father for almost two years now. She immediately made such a wonderful impact in his life and in ours. Her happiness to accompany him is very evident every day and in every way… He tells her, ‘You’re an amazing woman.’ And says of her, ‘She’s wonderful help.’ Each day she is scheduled to come he waits at the window with great anticipation. Heather is compassionate, patient and funny. She has helped us see him through her kind eyes.”

During one visit with L., she encouraged him to walk around the house for exercise. That same day, she visited R. (above), who did the same thing for exercise. Heather shared, “my client earlier today walked around their house 20 times.” And that is how the notes started!!! R. gave Heather a note to give to L:

“Okay! I walked 21 rounds inside on Tues. Now, I challenge you! One step at a time, no matter how long it takes. Your secret cheerleader.”

L. responded and a written exchange began:

L: “Dear Cherleder I walked 22 laps around my house today. See if can beet. Your friendly comettor”

R: “Hello fellow competitor, I could not walk today because we were too busy running errands, and I fell on my knee replacement—ooo-ah. Sounds like I’m making it possible for you to get ahead. Keep huffin’ and puffin’. Your Secret Cheerleader-Go!”

L: “I’m sorry to heare of your fell I hope your knee gets better I walked 22 laps your friendly competitior.”

Heather continued to exchange these notes until L. went into memory care. L. and R. talked about the weather and their families; they encouraged each other without even knowing the other’s name. Because of Heather, a retired farmer with dementia and a retired teacher built a connection and they engaged in life.

Clients, Family, and Friends

S. was having challenges getting her energy back after a surgery, so Heather began supporting her and her dogs. In 2015, S. was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer. In late 2015, S. began chemo. Simultaneously, her daughter was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. In June 2016, S. lost her battle with cancer and in December 2016, her daughter did as well. A letter from S.’s best friend talks about what Heather’s support meant:

Dear Patti,

Please accept this long overdue letter of appreciation for the outstanding services your office provided for two dear friends, S. and H. As I'm sure you recall, in a uniquely tragic turn of events both mother and daughter and were diagnosed with terminal cancer within a short time of each other. I had the opportunity to meet most of the caregivers you provided to care first for S., and then H. All were pleasant, courteous and competent.

One of your caregivers truly stood out and I hope you will share with her the positive impact she had on the lives of not only S and H, but the entire circle of family and friends that came into contact with her. I first met Heather Quass when she was caring for S., a fiercely independent woman who had great difficulty accepting help as her condition deteriorated. Heather's easy-going demeanor and strong work ethic quickly won S.'s trust. Heather was self-motivated, balancing the completion of many daily tasks and errands while providing a superior level of companionship and compassion to S. while never overstepping her boundaries.

Toward the end, as S.'s beloved canine companion suffered her own decline, Heather stepped in to care for the dog as S. had, cleaning up a constant deluge of diarrhea. Heather never once complained about the extra work or the horrific smell of the house, she just did what S. would have done if she could. She went above and beyond what I would expect from someone in her position and she did it with poise and grace, staying with S. and her dog through the end.

Shortly after S.’s death, her daughter underwent surgery to remove a malignant brain tumor. The surgery caused her to have a stroke and she suffered paralysis along with a substantial speech impediment. She would be unable to return home unless given 24/7 care. You somehow managed to put together a superior team of caregivers, all perfectly matched for the environment of this difficult home care assignment. Front and center once again was Heather Quass. She was already adored and respected by the entire family and was immediately requested to care for H.

Unable to communicate her needs was incredibly frustrating for this patient but Heather possessed an uncanny ability to understand the verbal gibberish that came out, all the while remaining patient and compassionate, never rushing H. when she was trying to speak. Heather was able to assist H. in realizing her maximum physical level of independence while assisting her with the deeply intimate details of personal care, always keeping the tone light and funny but appropriate.

Often a hard balance to maintain, Heather never skipped a beat. Again, Heather's self-motivation was more than impressive — she never wasted a minute of her work time, consistently meeting all of S. and H.’s needs. Heather also professionally and skillfully navigated the family dynamics often found in home care environments, never offending anyone.

Heather Quass is the kind of employee that can be considered as nothing less than a gift to your organization. Prior to retiring as an RN (working in hospitals, nursing homes and home care) I worked with many exceptional care assistants. Without hesitation, I can say Heather is the BEST I've ever seen.

Thank you for sending Heather to care for S. and H. I will always be grateful they had this shining star at their sides in their final journey home.”

Knowledgeable, Positive, Encouraging, and Friendly

The Regional Office for Alzheimer’s referred J. to Right at Home after his wife S. became overwhelmed with the progression of her husband’s disease. Right at Home visits J. four times per week to support J. with showers and visits to the gym.

S. shared the impact Heather had on J. with the Alzheimer’s office and also wrote a testimonial:

“If I could choose one special caregiver for my husband, it would be Heather. She has an amazing ability to get J. to do things that he doesn’t necessarily care to do. The best part is, he does it with a huge smile on his face. Heather is very knowledgeable, while being positive, encouraging, and extremely friendly. She has become the “on the spot teacher” for me when I am perplexed about how to best to help J. Her years of experience have culminated in professional, compassionate, extremely patient customer service. Having Heather in our home regularly has made my life easier. More importantly, it has certainly improved the quality of life for J.”

P. Walter
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