A couple of weeks before this past Thanksgiving, a Deepdale Gardens Cooperative resident found herself with two bags of garbage that she couldn’t get out of the house. This resident was having trouble with her knee after falling while visiting her husband in the hospital. Without many resources at her disposal, she called Deepdale CARES, the local Naturally Occurring Retirement Community operated by Commonpoint Queens, after recently receiving the monthly newsletter, and requested any help available.
Victoria, the program’s social worker at the time (now director) made an initial home visit to assist with garbage, explore needs, and provide support. What she found was an older adult who presented as frantic, alone, anxious, and overwhelmed with her own deteriorating health, alongside her husband’s poor prognosis at that time. She appeared to have not been taking care of herself and acknowledged the extreme difficulty she was having coping without her husband and not having his financial support when they needed it most. She felt unable to sleep at night and manage self-care.
She went on to explain that her spouse had been hospitalized since mid-September, and she was struggling to pay their monthly bills and afford basic necessities including food. As a temporary solution, she was placed on the garbage pick up list with Deepdale Gardens Maintenance due to her current mobility issues and living alone. The client’s spouse was in the process of obtaining social security disability, but had yet to be accepted and thus, the couple had no income.
Victoria followed up with weekly meetings for over two months, offering counseling and other services. She also made home visits with the contracted nurse for blood pressure screenings and other ongoing health monitoring. With the help of our nurse, she was able to lower her blood pressure by making health nutritional changes and learning ways to cope with stress.
Deepdale CARES also collected non-perishable food items, and delivered several packages, which led to connecting her with Mindy from the Central Queens Food Pantry, where she was registered online and able to place an order for fresh fruits and vegetables over the phone! Since our new client was unable to get to Forest Hills, a Commonpoint Queens staff member droped off the food to the Sam Field Center where the client was able to walk and pick up the food.
With solutions for self care and food, we now turned our focus to employment. Unfortunately, our new friend had lost her job several months prior to this and thus had no income of her own, and was struggling to find a new job. Having received help from several different pockets of Commonpoint Queens, she was then referred to the Work Force Now program for adults with disabilities. After attending several adult computer classes at the Sam Field Senior Center and obtaining help to review her resume from Carolyn of our Adult Workforce department, she landed TWO part time jobs within walking distance of her home!
In February, her husband was discharged from rehabilitation and sent home with 24/7 nursing and home care. He is slowly making process with his mobility and nutrition, and has been able to recover with in-home occupational and physical therapies. He will be returning to work in a few weeks in a new – less labor intensive – position at a local hospital.
Without the services and programs available from the various sites of Commonpoint Queens, the client and her husband would not have been as successful in overcoming these health, financial, and employment challenges. Since the client’s initial encounter with Deepdale CARES she has lowered her blood pressure and avoided medication for this, lost over 30 pounds by eating healthier, improved her computer skills, began exercising more which helped increase her mobility, obtained two jobs, and last but not least, has had her husband return home after a 5 month long hospitalization. The client has expressed sincere gratitude for all of the services offered through Commonpoint Queens and could not imagine where she would be or how she would have gotten through this time without the help of her community.