Supporting Care Partnership with Guest Kim Evanoski

Person-Directed Care is just one of the topics of conversation as we dig a little deeper into care for our families at any age, any stage. Tune in to hear Kim Evanoski, licensed social worker and CEO of Care Manage for All, share her experience with care management and how choice, dignity, respect, self-determination and purposeful living are values that can be embraced by both the caregiver and those they support.

Notes and Mentions

Visit Care Manage for All Visit Aging Life Care Association (ALCA)

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Tina: Hey everyone, I'm Tina.

Serena: And I'm Serena, and we are the Mental Health Mamas.


Tina: Welcome to No Need to Explain. We are so glad you're here.

Serena: First, as always, a quick disclaimer.

Tina: We come to you not as mental health professionals or experts in the field, but rather as parents with lived experience who are on a mission to normalize the conversation around mental health.

Serena: If you or someone you love is experiencing a mental health crisis, please seek professional support. You'll find a variety of resources in our show notes and on our website

Tina: Last week we had a guest who coaches and supports families finding themselves kind of at that crossroads point in care with their loved ones specifically aging parents. Today we're going to dig a bit deeper into this topic, and well, the guest last week was from Canada. This week we have a guest from our own country, the United States, and the statistics we will be quoting will be from the US. So let's just go ahead and dig in.

Serena: Kim Evanoski provides person directed care through her agency Care Manage for All, LLC. This person directed care is a model we can totally get behind, and that like us Kim believes that individuals and families know what they need, and she partners with them to support those needs. Kim, welcome to the podcast.

Kim: Thank you Serena and Tina. It's great to be here. I really appreciate Serena starting us off by discussing the important concept of person-directed care. There's a group called the American Medical Directors Association, and in March of 2010, they did some thoughtful defining, adopting, and providing of a framework that many providers like myself use today, and that is person-directed care is a philosophy that encourages both older adults and their caregivers to express choice and practice self-determination in a meaningful way. At every level of daily life, and this kind of combines some value systems, which are essential to this philosophy, and this includes choice, dignity, respect, self-determination, and purposeful living. So this important philosophy can be applied every day. For example, getting dressed when you wish and choosing the foods you most enjoy, even if you are older and you're not living in your own home, but in any place that you call home.

Tina: Yeah, so that is awesome, and it goes to the philosophy that we always talk about, which is that we know that families know what they need if they're asked. And on the other hand, you know, we are all moms, and when there is adversity or crisis, we go into save. And so I love the idea that you are every day considering and asking people what they need. I think it's just such an important thing. So in a study from the CDC, from this is before the pandemic, calls caregiving for family and friends, a public health issue. It goes on to say that caregiving often unpaid and often done by women more than men can cause significant physical and mental strain on that caregiver. Before we have you comment on that, do you have any personal connections to this work? You know, maybe how did you decide to get into this kind of thing?

Kim: Well, I grew up in a very caring home with a care provider who was both professionally and who also gave family care at home. And that really taught me lessons that I use every day and even today. I professionally trained as a social worker and I'm an educator. And by trade, I'm a care manager and I love the work of being a care partner. So in a nutshell, I really help people navigate through these difficult systems of care and try to keep everything person directed.

Serena: Yeah. So can you actually expand on that systems of care? It's a term that certainly we use. But what is what is that entail?

Kim: Well, that entails any place that's really not home. A system of care could be a hospital, it could be a nursing home, it could be a school. And a system of care has its own particular wants and needs. And that can be challenging for a lot of families and a lot of families who are caregiving both for the littles that I call the young people and the elders.

Serena: Okay, thank you for that. So I'm going to share a quote from A Place for Mom and it is nearly 17% of the US adult population provides unpaid care to an adult over the age of 50. Over 75% of these caregivers are women and they spend on average almost an equivalent number of hours a week providing care as people traditionally spend at a full-time job. So I'm curious if the statistic resonates with you.

Kim: Oh, this statistic not only resonates with me. I think the count is low. There are many, many tired and very busy care partners that do not participate in the count just because of that. So today I want all of us to recognize all who care. I see all of you and providing that compassionate family care daily. And just acknowledging that you give all the time. So to all of those very important family members and the many caring professionals in the community kudos to you.

Tina: Yeah, because we're doing a lot of jobs, right? A lot of jobs, a lot of jobs. So tell us how you support the overwhelming job of the family in caring for themselves and their loved ones. Walk us through clearly that you're not going to tell us about a particular client, but walk us through kind of a how you start with the family and how you support them.

Kim: Well, I'm going to just, you know, put forward out there. The first and if the only point you take from me and the work that I do as a care manager and care partner like you, is you needing to feel not alone. And that you don't have to be alone. My perspective in this whole piece around supporting each other in this very overwhelming job of care is to have the courage to lean in. People want to understand and help you. And that means the number one thing is to have the courage to build your village. So you've got family, friends, you have a community. And there's a lot of professionals out there. I'm a professional as a care manager. And there's all these professionals who, you know, are available through a lot of different resources. I'm actually a part of a professional association called the Aging Life Care Association. And we're experts in care just waiting to help you. And these are people anywhere in the United States. So that's just, you know, one group. So there are many, many groups out there that can support you.

Serena: Great. And we can certainly share a link to that in our notes for people. I love that you use the term care partner. I think it's just really it makes a big difference. So according to the CDC, the need for caregivers is expected to continue to grow with increases in the US older adult population. Currently, there are seven potential family caregivers per older adult. By 2030, it is estimated there will only be four potential family caregivers per older adult. So these statistics are pretty alarming, especially considering most caregivers are unpaid. And so clearly you have some vision when it comes to care. So tell us, if the world were just like you wanted it to be and people had the resources and support they needed, what would that look like?

Kim: You know, I have a simple thought that I did on some of my research that I did. And basically, simply, I would love to see Medicare include a care management planning service as part of their retirees benefit package. I think that people need to make a preventative plan and a plan that they can live with and change around. So allowing someone like an aging care life expert or someone who does planning in elder services, give them five hours to make a comprehensive plan of what people would want in their lives. Doing the plan earlier is very beneficial because once you're in the crisis, it's really hard to think about these things. So this is an important piece I think for everybody.

Tina: Yeah, that's a very good point. So in a crisis, we are not as effective as if we were to plan, right, plan a little bit. So we are huge proponents of making sure we take good care of ourselves while we're taking care of our people. And I can't say enough about that. It seems like in every situation, we need to remind people and help them see that they have needs and that they need to take, I mean, nobody can pour from an empty cup, right? So what are some of your tips and tricks suggestions for the families that you serve?

Kim: Well, please get out your sticky note because my biggest piece is giving yourself permission. And I would like everybody on their sticky note the first time is to write out permission. And if you need more sticky notes with more permission pieces, stick them all over your house. All over? in your car wherever you need to. But the sticky note is a reminder to give you permission to focus on what you need for your personal self care. And that is a, is that that's a very particular thing that I do many, many times with people that I sit down and meet with. I ask about do you, do you need a village now? Or do you just need a day off? So if that's the case, please believe that you can reach out. And, you know, get the help that you, that you need. I don't think the people need to feel alone and you may not feel enough, you know alone. You want to take the time to talk to a friend. There's so many local support groups and online groups. There are groups, especially if you're working with aging elders. There's the Office for Aging. They have wonderful caregiving support groups. There's the National Alliance of Caregiving that has so many things happening that can benefit caregivers. And, you know, maybe there's mental health issues that are happening. National Alliance of Mental Health. I make a lot of these suggestions. I want you to have permission to do what you need to do for yourself because this is usually a long haul. So like if you have littles and if you have elders, that's a lot to be sandwiched in between. So taking care of yourself is so essential and important and important. So can I give a tip of what I do daily?

Tina: Yes, please.

Kim: So here's my tip that I give myself daily. I think the key to care partner success is balance. And I focus on balance and self-care. And I remember and promised myself at least one hour for me to do me. So you have to remember, at least one hour for you to do you. Bring down the oxygen, just breathe, let everything else go, and just do what you need. You would be surprised how much energy and focus and goodness that comes from that. And lots of times a lot of gratitude.

Serena: I love that. One hour for you to do you. Yes. So Kim, you do so much to take good care of others, including a foundation that you started to support healthcare workers. So tell us more about that.

Kim: Well, we just started. So I have some colleagues who have worked with me. And we started a care worker foundation at Upstate New York that provides care for care workers that are going through a tough time. Maybe someone had COVID for a week. And they just need a hand up to get through that week. So we can offer a gas card, a food card. If you want to continue your education, we will provide access to education. We're just getting started. It's, you know, it's been a life dream to help out, you know, our colleagues in the field and many are women. And we, we feel that supporting women, especially women in the care working industry is a really important goal for us.

Tina: I love that. I love that. So we will look forward to seeing where that goes because it sounds like it's going to go far. So that's awesome. And Kim, before we let you go today, we're just curious if there's anything else that we haven't asked you that you would like to put out there to the world.

Kim: Well, I would like everybody to think about themselves for a little bit. And I know that's the kind of the hardest thing for people to do. But as people who are care partners, if there's anything that you take away, please focus on your self care. It makes us all better people. And it makes us all be able to balance ourselves in life. And that's, that's a part of, you know, our wellbeing. And I can't stress that enough. It's a requirement for all my students. It's a requirement for all my, my team members. So I hope that you'll take that to heart about the importance of you.

Tina: Awesome. So we continue to say that. And we're glad that we have you saying that. So other people are hearing. So thanks, Kim. We are so grateful to you for joining us today. And it's nice to reconnect. Kim and I have known each other since Little League with our boys, right? So that's a long time ago. And we really appreciate that you are a light in the world and just making it a better place to live.

Kim: Thanks so much.

Serena: Thanks, Kim. And so podcast friends. We are as always grateful for you spending some time with us today. We know you have lots of choices out there. And we appreciate you giving us the time. If you get a chance, go to Apple podcast, leave us a review, subscribe and please share the podcast with others. You will find more content on our website, You'll find us on the socials. You can even leave us a voice message. You'll find that number in our notes. You can just reach out to tell us what's going on, tell your story or just call to say hi.

Tina: And this is your gentle reminder to take good care of yourself while you are also taking care of your people.

Serena: Thanks for listening.

Tina: Bye.