Nitza Diaz is an Intake Coordinator at the Caregiver Homes branch office in Worcester, Mass.

I am a human service professional. I believe most of my peers in this field would agree that from time to time we encounter individuals who turn out to be an ongoing source of energy encouragement. When the challenges of the human services and nursing field weigh heavily on us, we draw from our experiences with certain inspiring individuals as a reminder why we chose to be a "helper". Lisa and her father are this kind of resource for me.

Lisa moved from New Jersey to Massachusetts last year when she had become concerned about her father's decline in mental and physical status. Her father, a relatively young man, had been living at a longterm facility for about six years. Once reunited with her father, Lisa was worried to find her once proud and independent father depressed, detached and failing to thrive. Witnessing his decline fueled her resolve to bring him home.

Lisa learned about Caregiver Homes from a friend and started the process toward being her father's full-time caregiver at home. During a recent conversation, Lisa admitted rescheduling our initial intake home visit several times because she "wasn't sure she could do it," meaning she wasn't certain she could care for her father at home. She struggled with the thought of providing personal care to her father, knowing he would need physical assistance with bathing and toileting. Adding to her doubts, several family members attempted to discourage Lisa from discharging her father from the nursing home. Lisa's commitment was also tested by challenges in navigating the healthcare system in regards to discharge planning and obtaining necessary equipment. These can all be daunting issues when facing them alone. Fortunately, Lisa was not alone in this process.

Almost six months later after several setbacks including a hospitalization, Lisa's father came home. When asked why she made the decision to bring her father home Lisa answered, "He's my Dad. How can I know that he is in an institution and not help him?" In a few short months, Lisa's father has regained a healthy appetite and then some according to Lisa. He also attends a day program where he enjoys socializing. Not long ago, Lisa's father could not tell you what day of the week it was, but now he keeps up with and discusses current affairs. Although Lisa admits it is an ongoing struggle being a full-time caregiver, knowing her father is with family makes it all worth it. Lisa has learned to navigate health systems, provide physical assistance and meet the needs of her father at home. When visiting the home, you can see the joy and love they have for each other.