Home Care Companions with Celi Adams

WebMD Live Events Transcript

Are you a caregiver to someone with an acute illness? Talk with Celi Adams of Home Care Companions. Find out how this remarkable woman has helped over 1,900 Bay Area people living with a life threatening illness and their caregivers.

Date: 05/23/2000.

The opinions expressed herein are those of the guest's alone. If you have questions about your health, you should consult your personal physician. This event is meant for informational purposes only.

Moderator: Welcome to San Francisco Live Events! Our guest today is Celi Adams, RN, ONC, Clinical Director of Home Care Companions (HCC). We will be discussing the free training offered by Home Care Companions.

Welcome, Celi. How are things in the Bay Area today?

Adams: Better now!

Moderator: You are one of the founders of Home Care Companions (HCC). Please tell a little of your background. How did you come to start this organization?

Adams: I was a member of a care team taking care of a friend with AIDS. After we cared for him for five months, after his death, we asked each other what would have helped us to do a better job. Of course, it was knowing more about the nuts and bolts of caregiving, so I wrote up a curriculum, Scott put together the proposal, and we began giving classes to fellow family caregivers in the community.

Moderator: Your professional background is as a nurse with some special training. Please tell us about that.

Adams: I am a cancer nurse by trade. And that training was very helpful, but taking care of someone at home is very different from care in the clinical setting. Also, I found myself teaching the others whenever I was there, and they were much more functional with the explanations, so we translated that experience into the community at large. And I learned about HIV at the bedside doing the 24-7. 

Moderator: What was the greatest challenge to you caring for someone in the home? Are there special problems in caring for someone close to you?

Adams: Homes are not set up for persons with disabilities. Without the right equipment, it is fraught with safety hazards. I watched my friend do things that risked injury to themselves or my friend any number of times, just getting him in and out of the bathroom. It was my background that initiated getting a bed, commode, lift and teaching them how to do transfers. Also, because he was a friend, there were times it was hard to be objective. Also, because I was a nurse, medical and nursing personnel tended to be somewhat cavalier in how they talked to me about his issues, which was actually very hard to hear. And HIV was new to me and they assumed I knew things I actually didn't. But, not being very shy, I asked lots of questions. 

Moderator: Your program is unique in that you train lay people to provide quality care in the home for family and friends. What does the training involve?

Adams: The training is free, first of all. It is 18 hours long and held at different sites in the community. It begins with an overview of the illness, has a section dedicated to symptom and side effect management, addresses pain management and nutrition from the standpoint of altered ability to eat or drink, goes over body mechanics and bed care skills, teaches people about building a personal caregiving network, as well as community resources. The final three-hour session includes legal issues and what you do if someone dies at home. Then we have a party and graduation. 

Moderator: Is the training only for those caring for someone with AIDS?

Adams: No. We also have training related to cancer, caregivers of persons with brain tumors, a course related to COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and CHF (congestive heart failure), and I have adapted a generic course. 

Moderator: You are talking about ordinary people taking on extraordinary emotional burdens to aid a friend or family member. Does the training address taking care of the care giver?

Adams: The training in and of itself has proven to be a support that improves quality of life for the caregiver. Also, included in the support network forming piece, respite is addressed from a couple of different ways: one, that you need to get out so you can regroup your objectivity and  that fun activities need to be part of the caregiving model. Also, the patients need us to get out and stop hovering. My friend kicked us out a number of times because he needed some space. Also, the community resource segment includes the local counseling and support group listings. It was never our intention to try and duplicate what others in the community did so well. I wanted our time spent providing people with information they couldn't get elsewhere. It has created collegial relationships with many other providers, which also means cross referring so people know about us. 




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