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The Heart of ComForCare: One Caregiver's Dedication to Relationships in Care

If you have an aging loved one in your life, making the decision to seek care can be difficult. In-home care services are quickly gaining popularity as an alternative to residential care, such as assisted living communities. For some older adults and their families, though, it can still be hard to imagine what it’s like to have a caregiver in the home. 

For most people, hiring a caregiver is a new experience, and it may seem intimidating to invite a new person into your home and your life. You need to make sure that they’re able to provide exceptional care, of course. However, you also want to know that they’ll develop a real, meaningful relationship with you and your family member.

At ComForCare, relationships are at the core of everything we do. That’s why each year, we recognize one special caregiver who has embodied our core values. Today, we want to honor our 2022 Caregiver of the Year, Maryann Lakey, to show the powerful difference that our caregivers can make in their clients’ lives.

ComForCare’s Caregiver of the Year 2022: Maryann’s Story

Maryann discovered ComForCare of Vancouver almost 10 years ago. After earning her Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) license, she was working as a community Med Aide and looking to make a real difference in people’s lives. Once she joined ComForCare, she knew she had found her calling.

When she first started out, she took a local bus route to each client’s home, never wavering in her commitment to reaching her clients whenever and wherever they needed her. Though it didn’t take long before she was able to purchase her own car, she never let anything stand in her way or her dedication to championing her clients’ needs.

Now, Maryann works in private homes specializing in hospice home care, consistently going above and beyond to ensure that clients receive the best care possible, regardless of their needs. She has a great gift of being able to observe and sense what those needs are and attend to them exceptionally. 

Closeup of a caregiver’s arms around an older man

How One Caregiver Embodies ComForCare’s Core Values

Maryann’s incredible skills and compassion truly shine through in the stories that her clients and their families can tell about her care. Perhaps ComForCare Vancouver’s franchise owner Debi Kyle said it best: “Maryann doesn’t just exhibit the core values and mission of ComForCare, she lives them.” Let’s take a look at how Maryann has become a superstar to her clients and team!

Care Like Family

Perhaps one of the most touching, and telling, stories we can share about Maryann is her relationship with an 85-year-old client that she cared for from 2021 until his passing in November 2022. In the midst of his own battle with terminal cancer, his wife became ill, requiring multiple surgeries and a transition to an Adult Family Home. Sadly, she succumbed to her illness in September 2022.

Maryann was with this client throughout this painful time, providing consistency, solace, and an open ear. She knew it was important to help her client grieve his loss, encouraging him to tell stories about his wife and how they met. In his last months, Maryann knew part of her role as caregiver was to help him adjust to loss, remain comfortable, and honor his wife’s memory.

Serve Passionately

After his wife’s passing, Maryann’s client required 24/7, nurse-delegated care. Maryann became his primary caregiver, overseeing any nurse-delegated staff that would assist her in providing his comfort medications. There were plenty of times when, if an additional staff member couldn’t be there, Maryann would drop anything she was doing at home and go over to take up the mantle herself. 

Maryann was not asked or required to be on-call like this—she took it upon herself because she wanted her client to feel safe and comfortable. She understood his needs and preferences more than anyone. That’s why she would take the extra step to teach her support staff how to make sure he was taken care of any time she couldn’t be there.

In her dedication to home care, Maryann was able to help honor her client’s wishes of not entering an Adult Family Home. In this way, she could give both her client and his daughter peace of mind that he could age in place, in peace, exactly where he wanted to be.

Dignity Matters

In situations where an older person is living with a terminal illness, grieving a loss, or simply unable to do certain things they once could, it can be hard to know how to help. But no matter what challenges people may face as they age, it’s important to keep the things they love and value at the center of their care. 

At ComForCare, we know that preserving dignity and independence is a core aspect of supporting a person’s well-being. And caregivers like Maryann understand how to put these values into practice.

Despite the obstacles that Maryann’s client faced in his personal life, he was sharp, knowledgeable, and passionate about running an auto parts business for vintage Chevys. Instead of focusing on things he could no longer do, Maryann helped him continue to run his business from home. 

She would assist him in organizing parts and filling orders, which helped the client continue doing what he loved. Plus, it was something they could enjoy doing together.

Be Present and Engaged

In-home care is a wonderful way for older adults to maintain their dignity and independence safely. Of course, we understand that making that decision can be hard, especially for older adults who are still adjusting to the idea of needing help. Part of overcoming reluctance to care is to be truly present at every visit and engage with clients on a personal level.

This is exactly what Maryann did when her client’s wife initially voiced skepticism about her husband’s caregiving service. Maryann knew she had a duty to show that she could be a perfect fit not only in terms of her client’s care but also within the home and family dynamic. Within a short time, she had done just that.

From learning the client’s preference for perfectly cooked Spam and poached eggs to helping with the auto parts business, Maryann worked to earn the respect and love of her client—and his family.

A caregiver brings a plate of birthday cupcakes to a client

Have Fun

At the core of every in-home care service—from personal care to companion care, respite care to hospice care—is a commitment to helping people live their best lives possible. And that means always finding ways to have fun! 

Today, for all her clients, Maryann works hard to ensure that they have what they need to experience a little extra joy every day. One year, she crocheted blankets for all of her clients at Christmas as a special gift to spread comfort and cheer.

Even when a person’s mental or physical capabilities change, Maryann goes out of her way to help them have fun just the same as always. 

For one client’s 100th birthday, his family wanted to plan a birthday party, which required finding a way to move his hospital bed and equipment. Maryann rose to the challenge by getting in touch with a group of EMTs who had previously helped him. At no cost to the family, she was able to organize these EMTs’ help to make her client’s birthday party a roaring success.

Find Your Maryann: Get In-Home Senior Care with True Heart

At ComForCare, we couldn’t be more proud to have exemplary caregivers like Maryann on our team and celebrate their achievements. Through our highly supportive onboarding and training processes—including DementiaWise training—Great Place to Work certification, and innovative Caregiver Matching program, we’re able to create a culture of dedication where caregivers like Maryann can truly thrive.

If you think it might be time to seek in-home care services for yourself or a loved one, contact your local ComForCare today to find your perfect caregiver!

ComForCare Canada: Connecting People, Changing Lives

Stories like Maryann’s are always worth celebrating, and they’re taking place across the nation every day. Whether you need in-home personal care, remote patient monitoring, 24/7 home care, or respite care services, we have flexible options to fit your needs. Let us empower your loved one to age in place safely at home and make the most of every day!

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