Local Caregivers of Seniors Receive National Honor as "Caring Champions"

Caring.com Rewards Professional Caregivers for Stories of Senior Care Excellence

San Mateo, CA; August 21, 2014 -- They uniquely engage the older adults in their care. They recognize and support the dignity of elders and overcome personal challenges or make sacrifices to take on a difficult professional role with little glory. To them, caregiving is more than a job or paycheck -- it's a calling, a blessing, an honor, an act of greater good.

With years of experience already under their belt, they pursue more training, degrees, and certification to evolve and enhance their senior care -- then pass on the learning to help their peers and client families. They are the "Caring Champions of 2014," professional caregivers of older adults in America whose service excellence is being recognized today by Caring.com, a leading senior care website.

"Families trust professional caregivers to provide high-quality, compassionate care for their elder loved ones -- often during a time of debilitating illness or aging transitions and challenges," said Andy Cohen, Caring.com CEO. "This program highlights stories of extraordinary professional care, rewards caregivers, and helps families find the best service providers for their loved ones, too."

In June 2014, more than three-dozen professional caregivers at assisted living communities, in-home care agencies, Alzheimer's care facilities, adult day centers, and nursing homes were nominated for the Caring Champions distinction by their clients, co-workers, and employers. During July, Caring.com visitors cast nearly 4,400 social media votes for their favorite nomination stories, and in August, a panel of judges chose the following top-ten caregivers to receive cash bonuses from Caring.com ($500 for grand-prize winner Barbra Corn, and $100 for each of the nine runners-up):

An in-home caregiver who provided a 70-year-old mentally challenged client with her first-ever Christmas celebration, including a tree with gifts, home decorations, a special breakfast and dinner, introduction to neighbors in her housing complex, and indescribable joy for the client.

"I cannot stand the thoughts of someone being lonely, hungry, or without a smile," Barbra says. "I always try to leave [clients' homes] in good spirits, because we never know when that will be the last spirit they will experience."

A 23-year-old caregiver of two sisters (aged 93 and 91) -- she listens to their stories and perspectives on news items, and she takes them on warm-weather strolls while walking behind them, telling them: "I will always have your backs." Their nickname for her: "Old Faithful."

  • Abu Fofanah of Roland Park Place in Baltimore, Maryland

Originally from Sierra Leone, this licensed practical nurse is so beloved by senior living residents that they post hand-written messages about his care and pass special notes for him through other staff when he's away from work for a conference or continuing education.

  • Eva Ayala of Silverado Senior Living in Morton Grove, Illinois

A cancer survivor and certified nursing assistant (CNA) who gave up a lucrative real estate career to be a caregiver, she now thanks families for the opportunity to serve their loved ones.

A CNA who developed and taught a "Family Interactions" training class for her co-workers; led dementia care classes for the local Alzheimer's Association chapter; and created a blog and Facebook page for dementia care awareness.

  • Sonja Grennon of Robbinswood Assisted Living in Grand Haven, Michigan

An assisted living caregiver who wakes memory care residents by rubbing their legs and feet, and who uses her actions and words daily to show her residents "they are still alive and respected."

  • Carrie Wooten of ComForcare Senior Services in Indianapolis, Indiana

A single mom of five school-aged children and certified dementia trainer with thirteen years of caregiving experience who takes on-the-job courses and shares what she learns with peers.

A caregiver who engages a retired physician (who has dementia) with a chart of various medication names and numerals, helping him make plans for a "surgical procedure."

A nursing home caregiver nominated by the adult daughter of a resident with Alzheimer's, who was unable to speak but smiled and laughed in her care.

  • Dina Snyder of The Adult Day Center at Preferred Providers in Ann Arbor, Michigan

A certified home health aide specializing in dementia care who is frequently praised by clients' family members and who recently began weekly in-home care trainings for family caregivers.

In addition to counting the social media votes, Caring.com also considered the compelling attributes of each senior care story; the volume and sentiment of story comments and client/peer feedback; and the caregiver traits and care activities going beyond basic senior care expectations. The judges this year included:

  • Merrily Orsini -- President/CEO, corecubed.com (aging care marketing), and Caring.com expert

  • Anthony Cirillo, FACHE, ABC -- assisted living expert for About.com, health care consultant, family caregiver, and Caring.com contributor

  • Deborah Cooke -- gerontologist specializing in dementia, delirium, and managed long-term care, Caring.com expert, and CenterLight Healthcare project manager

  • Caitlin Morgan -- gerontologist, co-creator of Memory Care Cafe, Caring.com expert, and family advisor

  • Shannon Ingram -- Caring.com's VP of Industry Marketing and author of "The Heart Way – A Journey from Corporate to Care"

  • And other Caring.com leaders and staff

"A lot of us in the industry may think we're doing some great things, and we are, but when you read these stories about the Caring Champions and what they do, it's very humbling," said Anthony Cirillo, who's also currently on a media tour consulting with and performing live music at senior living communities across the country.

Read the entire collection of Caring Champions stories and learn more about this annual program on Caring.com: https://www.caring.com/championcaregivers

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About Caring.com

With more than two million visitors per month, San Mateo-based Caring.com is a leading senior care resource for family caregivers seeking information and support as they care for aging parents, spouses, and other loved ones. Part of the Bankrate network of websites, Caring.com provides helpful caregiving content, online support groups, and a comprehensive Senior Care Directory for the United States, with more than 60,000 consumer ratings and reviews and a toll-free senior living referral line (1-800-325-8591). In January 2012, Caring.com launched the annual Caring Stars award program, recognizing America's best assisted living communities based on consumer reviews, and in Summer 2013 began the Caring Champions program to recognize and reward professional caregivers of seniors. Connect with Caring.com on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and/or YouTube.