Written by: John DeRousie, Custom Marketing Solutions
Fulton, NY – Every morning, when Diane Zeller enters her kitchen she is greeted with the aroma of fresh brewed coffee and a friendly ‘good morning.’
As a certified home provider for Oswego County Opportunities’ Community Based Family Care Program, Diane has opened her heart and home to one of the program’s adult residents.
“Mary is part of our extended family,” said Diane. “My granddaughter, Desa, and I enjoy having Mary with us. It is a mutually rewarding experience. It provides my granddaughter and I with the opportunity of helping someone and it has been a wonderful growth opportunity for Mary.”
As a home Family Care home provider, Diane sees to it that Mary has her own living space and three meals a day.
Mary shares responsibilities for the daily household chores and looks forward to washing the dishes.
“That’s my job. I’ve enjoyed doing the dishes since I was a young girl,” said Mary.
Diane also ensures that Mary receives her medications as needed and offers support and guidance in regards to her daily schedule.
Her attention to Mary’s list of medications and nutrition has proved to be very beneficial to Mary’s quality of life.
“When Mary came to live with us she used a walker. Hhowever, with the assistance of Penny Foster-Pratt, Family Care Specialist with the Community Based Family Care program, we reviewed her medications with her doctors and improved her nutrition. As a result Mary is now walking with a cane and is enjoying her new found freedom,” said Diane.
In addition to short walks to visit friends in the neighborhood, Mary enjoys social outings with her Family Care Specialist, and looks forward to her daily visit to Seneca Hill Adult Day Program.
She has the opportunity to make new friends and partake in a variety of activities while her home provider is at work.
“Everyone there is very nice and I have the chance to make new friends. They take good care of me,” said Mary.
Thanks to the encouragement that she receives from Diane, Mary has established a ‘bucket list’ of things she would like to accomplish.
One of those was playing the piano.
“Mary told me she always wanted to play piano but never thought she would be able to and was hesitant to take lessons. However, under the tutelage of Larry Rapshaw, who gave Mary her lessons here at our home, Mary not only realized her dream of playing the piano, she also performed at a recital with other piano students,” said Diane.
With her wish to play piano fulfilled, Mary is looking ahead to other items on her bucket list such as photography and traveling.
“Mary received a digital camera for Christmas and is enjoying learning about the capabilities of her camera and discovering the world of photography. We are also helping her achieve her goal of seeing new places as we enjoyed a trip to Alexandria Bay last year and are hoping to visit Washington, D.C. this year summer. It is very nice to have Mary as part of our extended family and encouraging her to live life to the fullest. Life is a journey and I am pleased to be able to help Mary enjoy it,” added Diane.
Diane, as well as other home providers in the program, receives ongoing training and 24 / 7 support from Family Care Specialist, Foster-Pratt.
“We are very appreciative of our family care home providers and see to it that they receive the training and support they need. Our home providers receive monthly training on pertinent issues such as effective communication, special diet and psychiatric medications, Psychiatric Disorders, CPR and first aid along with 24- hour staff support, and semi-annual respite (vacation allotment). Our residents also enjoy a high level of case management and administrative support,” said Foster-Pratt.
To help ensure the success of the program, Foster-Pratt said that all participants are screened and matched with a suitable home provider who is anxious to welcome them into their home.
In addition, all home providers are certified through the NYS Office of Mental Health.
The process helps create a positive experience for both the participant and the home provider.
Home providers also have the final say as to whom they choose to accept in their home.
“We do everything we can to ensure that it is an appropriate match for our residents and our home providers. From the location of the home to the unique personalities of those involved, we see to it that it is a mutually beneficial relationship,” said Foster-Pratt.
For Diane and her granddaughter, Mary has been an ideal match.
“I enjoy visiting and playing games with Mary. I’m glad that she shares our home with us. We have a big home and Mary helps us fill it!” said Desa.
“The Family Care Program is wonderful. The support I receive from Penny is amazing. She is very kind and supportive of Mary’s needs and has helped made it possible for Mary to achieve many of her goals. I highly recommend the program. It’s a joy to welcome someone like Mary into our home and offer her a comfortable family environment,” added Diane.
A certified residential program for adults who are recovering from a mental illness, the Community Based Family Care program provides these individuals with the opportunity to live and interact in their community. Due to the success and increased demand for the Community Based Family Care program there is currently a need for more home providers.
“Our home providers have found the experience to be very satisfying. The residents are good company and our home providers find comfort in the fact that they are helping their community and offering support to those who need it,” said Foster-Pratt.
The Community Based Family Care program is currently in need of homes in the cities of Oswego and Fulton, as well as the villages of Pulaski, Mexico and Phoenix.
Providers may either own or rent their homes. In addition to monthly training and staff support, home providers receive a monthly allotment of $801.48 per resident and a vacation allowance of $749 twice per year. For more information on OCO’s Community Based Family Care program, or to become a home provider, contact Penny Foster-Pratt at 598-4710, ext. 1094.
OCO, Inc is a private, non-profit agency that has been supporting communities throughout Oswego County since 1966. A member agency of the United Way of Greater Oswego County, OCO provides more than 50 vital services throughout 80 separate locations. For more information, visit www.oco.org