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Published on June 30, 2014

Home Sweet, Home Health

Mary Ann King, Home Health Caregiver to motherMary Ann King and her mom, Elizabeth.
Devoted Daughter Cares for Her Mom, 
Takes Respite through Private Duty Program

Elizabeth’s bedroom is painted a soothing shade of blue. Her favorite plate collection is on display and a familiar blanket comforts her.

“Keeping that sameness really helps,” says her daughter, Mary Ann King, another comfort for Elizabeth, who is 91 and living with dementia.  

Elizabeth's Story

Eight years ago, Elizabeth moved in with Mary Ann and her husband, Martin, in their Tinley Park home. Since then, Mary Ann has been her mom’s 24-hour caregiver.

“I couldn’t do this without my husband, who is a retired paramedic,” she says. “If he wasn’t able to help me, I wouldn’t be able to do this alone. He is wonderful. You need that in a support system. You need people there to understand.”

For the last three years, Mary Ann also has found respite in the services of Palos Hospital Home Health. Two days a week, Mary Ann receives assistance from certified nurse’s aides (CNA) who work through the Private Duty program, which has been assisting patients for 14 years and continues to grow each year. 

What the Palos Private Duty Program Gave Mother and Daughter

The Private Duty program provides quality personal care and supportive services to patients and their family members in their homes.  To ensure the quality of its employees, Palos requires all CNAs to attend monthly continuing education classes ranging from basic patient care to the complexities of mental health in the aging adult.

“We assist caregivers by giving them the peace of mind of knowing their loved one is being cared for by an employee who works in a department of the hospital and is licensed by the State of Illinois and accredited by the Joint Commission on Accreditation for Healthcare Organizations,” says Ronda Scheeringa, manager of Private Duty for Palos HospitalPalos HospitalPalos Hospital. “Many of our staff are nursing students.”

That’s a world Mary Ann knows personally. She followed her mom into the health care field, both registered nurses. “The hardest day during my career was nothing like this, but that’s OK,” she says. “All these years, she sacrificed for me and my three sisters and put us through college. She’s taken care of us, and now it’s my turn to take care of her.”

When Private Duty comes to the King home, Mary Ann uses her respite to run errands or meet with friends. On Sundays, she and her husband spend time with their nephews going to museums, while her sisters come over and visit with mom.

"You need to remember to keep yourself happy too."

“It’s good for all of us,” she says. “If you are able to keep your parents at home and take care of them, you need to remember to keep yourself happy too. Sometimes you feel like you are the only one, but there are thousands of baby boomers out there taking care of their parents and possibly their own children.”

Mary Ann can’t imagine doing what she does without the assistance of the Private Duty program.

“Having a nursing background, I can say these people are professional. They know their job, but yet they are compassionate and understand how to deal with dementia,” she says. “I would recommend them to anyone. I don’t feel nervous when I go out and I don’t worry about what’s going on at home.”

Private Duty

This is the content area for Panel 1 Private Duty provides individualized personal care and support that enables people to remain in their home. Patient care is delivered directly by nurse's aides and supervised by a registered nurse. 

Caregiver Support Group

Offered by professionals from Palos Home Health Care, our Caregiver Support Group provides emotional and practical support for family members and friends caring for a loved one in the last years of life. 

For more information, please call (630) 257-1111