Behind Lifesprk client Richard Carignan were 8 members of his Lifesprk team joining him on the grass at Target Field experiencing together a moment they will never forget.
It was during his Lifesprk home care consultation that Angela Nelson, RN, Lifesprk Life Care Manager (LCM) discovered that going to this field to watch the Minnesota Twins play baseball was one of Richard’s personal goals. “During our initial discovery process with each client, we start by learning what is most important to that person across all seven elements of living well, not just health care goals, and this is what Richard felt was most important,” said Angela, adding it’s the game-changing combination –And why whole person senior care models are paving the way with proven results, which according to Angela, “go beyond traditional home care to incorporate all aspects of wellbeing. For many seniors, that’s all they want.”
After being in and out of the hospital over a 6-month period and experiencing multiple falls due to weakness, Richard was sent home with Lifesprk Home Health for physical and occupational therapy to help him regain his strength. However, Lifesprk offers a seamless continuum of support that extends beyond those short-term Medicare-certified home health services. Looking ahead to anticipate his needs, his Lifesprk social worker, Marie Fox, LICSW felt he needed more support to continue his progress once the therapy services ended. “She also knew he had additional goals that could be met by continuing with Life Care Management from a Lifesprk nurse once a week,” said Angela.
Angela shared that she and Richard discussed a lot during the discovery – the need for a power-of-attorney, moving to senior living, volunteering more, and keeping him from becoming socially isolated, an often overlooked risk factor which can increase a senior’s’ risk of death by 26%. Angela added, “It’s why addressing the psycho-social needs of our seniors is equally as important as their medical diagnosis.”
What was most important to Richard though, and where Angela saw his spark light up when he talked about it, was his love for baseball. Even after Richard started Lifesprk services with his Life Care Manager, Linda Brixius, RN, that spark never left Angela’s mind.
“Aside from the recent hospitalizations, Richard doesn’t have many medical issues for which he needs nursing support,” said Linda. “So in addition to catching health issues early, we focus on the things he wants to do like volunteering at the humane society, potentially getting him into an adult day program, and coordinating his health care directives. Staying socially active is a big part of who he is. He walks over a mile each way, seven days a week, to have lunch at a local restaurant. But the baseball, he loves it.” Going to ball games however proved challenging for Richard who doesn’t have a large extended family nearby aside from his niece with whom he lived.
Angela and Linda were determined to help him achieve this dream . Angela sent an email to Lifesprk employees asking for connections for tickets to see a Minnesota Twins game. David Kieffer, Lifesprk Vice President of Sales, an avid baseball fan himself, picked right up on this. “I kept thinking if we didn’t do this for him, who else would? It personally motivated me,” David explained. A few calls later and not only did David have tickets but he had coordinated a tour of the stadium where Richard and his Lifesprk team were able to walk onto the ballfield before the game.
Richard was ecstatic. David even extended the opportunity to new employees at Lifesprk to join them for the game. “Our whole person senior care model is often intangible; you have to experience it to fully understand it. With a growing new workforce at Lifesprk, we knew helping them experience what we call a Lifesprk wish from the beginning would go a long way for benefiting our clients, partners, but also our employees themselves,” said David. And for Richard, this was a game-changing moment.
As he stared up in awe at the ballfield lights with the Minnesota Twin sign illuminating the background, he took the moment in. For a baseball fan, it didn’t get better than this. He joked with Terry Francona, manager of the Cleveland Indians who played the MN Twins that day, about not being too hard on us Minnesotans. He met his longtime favorite pitcher, Bert Blyleven, who stopped for a moment to help Richard into the elevator on his way up to his seats. And at the end of the game, he cried on David’s shoulder when Lifesprk handed him a signed baseball from the pitcher of today’s game, Kyle Gibson.
“That was the moment I will remember forever,” said David. “We were two baseball fans experiencing the love of the game together and the gratitude for a team of people who made it all possible. It was overwhelming.”
They stayed nearly the entire game. But the effects of that day have already changed Richard’s outlook on his own future. “It’s about engagement – inspiring both the people on your team, whether it’s nurses, caregivers or therapists and social workers, to develop individual client Life Care plans, and the client to believe they can achieve their goals despite whatever health issue they are faced with,” said David. “It may not always be a baseball game, sometimes it’s a simple as putting birdseed in their birdfeeder, but it matters. We don’t create the spark, we discover it and then ignite with the experience which opens up the door to more hope.”
For Richard, the sense of hope instilled in him by that game has given him the confidence he’ll reach his Life Plan goals. “He knows he can get out more because he did. Because of that, he knows he will volunteer, he knows we will continue to support his progress, and he knows he’s not alone in his aging journey,” said Linda.
Home care shouldn’t be a one size fits all experience, it needs to be adaptable as needs change. That’s why Lifesprk created their innovative model of whole person senior care – to provide a seamless continuum of support that includes short- and long-term services to protect and promote the wellbeing of clients like Richard, while sparking their lives to help them live the healthiest, most independent lives possible. “We’ve seen care reduce over time, we’ve seen it increase as things progress,” said Angela. “But the point is this: the spark must be part of the experience if you want to change the aging experience.”
Share your home care experiences – did purpose and passion play a role in the care plan?