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Someone to watch over me: How LSS Private Duty is Making a World of Difference for Older Adults

Someone to watch over me: How LSS Private Duty is Making a World of Difference for Older Adults

There’s a somebody I’m longing to see
I hope that s(he) turns out to be
Someone to watch over me

These memorable lines from the famous Gershwin brothers’ song are familiar to many residents and clients of Lutheran Senior Services. Nearly 100 years after the words were written, they still embody what we want for residents and clients of Lutheran Senior Services. When they need a little extra help, Private Duty delivers.

Private Duty is one of the offerings of LSS Home and Community Based Services. Like other HCBS offerings, Private Duty relies on its nursing, residential, and therapy teams to serve seniors living independently.

Since different people have different needs, Private Duty is customizable by design. Some clients may require personal care, such as help with bathing or dressing. Others need errands run or transportation to appointments and outings. Still others may need help keeping up with mail or medication reminders or housekeeping.

Private Duty is not one-size-fits-all. But its main benefit is consistent from one case to the next: It connects clients to the greater community through that special “someone.”

“Anyone can get lonely when they’re homebound,” says Lori Bliss, Private Duty LPN. “At LSS, it’s our calling to provide companionship as well as care for our clients, to care for the whole person.”

Part of Bliss’s perspective comes from Lutheran Senior Services’ Christian Core Values, a faith-inspired calling to put people first and to approach work with a servant heart. But another part comes from the natural synergy of services that makes up LSS. “Senior living and Private Duty both fall under this vast umbrella of senior care,” says Roxanne Hinkle, Administrator of Independent Living at Laclede Groves. “If a Private Duty caregiver notices a change in a client, the pieces are already in place for therapy, medical intervention, or a move to a different living level within the community.”

There’s also the communication piece of it. It’s not unusual for Hinkle to learn of the need for Private Duty from REACH staff, concerned neighbors, adult children, or pastors of older adults. Having everyone on the same page creates safety-net upon safety-net. And peace of mind for families.

But many who receive Home and Community Based Services do not live in LSS Communities. For them, the connection is slightly different. “Often the path to Private Duty is through REACH Short Stay Rehab,” says Hinkle. “When guests are discharged from REACH, they sometimes become clients of Private Duty.” It can be a natural progression for REACH guests or Private Duty clients to move into a Life Plan Community or to stay connected with LSS another way.

Whether a resident of an LSS community or of the metro area, Private Duty clients are among the biggest promoters of the service, often describing their caregivers as members of their extended families. Some caregiver-client relationships last for years.

“At LSS, we strive for continuity of care whenever we can,” says Christina McGee, Director of HCBS. “We love to see the bonds that form between clients and caregivers. We love knowing our clients look forward to time with those who care for them.”

McGee currently oversees a staff of 72 caregivers, most of whom have several years of experience in the field. She’s careful about who she hires, asking situational questions during the interview to make sure candidates genuinely care about older adults. Upon hire, they go through extensive training before shadowing experienced caregivers. Then they’re carefully paired with clients for just the right fit.

“Fit is important,” says Bliss. “It’s hard for seniors to let go of independence, but the right Private Duty caregiver can make all the difference to them.”

McGee recognizes it’s a tough job, even as she’s vetting new candidates. “It’s a culture and a calling,” she says. “It takes knowledge and patience. It takes a special person to fill this role.”

View our Private Duty video with Lori Bliss and Roxanne Hinkle, or read more about Private Duty and other LSS Home and Community Based Services.

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