By Victoria Howard, PhD and Jyoti Sharp, Owner/Director
Windhorse takes an individualized approach to the personal and domestic care needs of elders. The care team collaborates with the client and their family, tailoring the care plan to preferences and life styles, so that the elder can remain in the home of their choosing for as long as they desire. The goal is to create an environment in which the elder can feel truly comfortable and supported. This approach to care differs from task-oriented or traditional medical models in which physical maintenance and function are primary. In Windhorse we begin by making an alliance with the elder, their family, and with the broader circle of support. Relationships become primary and as they deepen, the care evolves.
One of our goals is to support our client in maintaining their independence and dignity. The care team, led by the team leader, can become an extended family, distributing tasks, contributing talents and sharing in details of domestic life, such as preparing or sharing meals, shopping, or assisting in whatever activities are needed. The team leader partners with the elder and family and together begin to unravel the maze of medical and other support services. This process of joining enriches everyone involved. For elders, who often suffer from isolation, confusion, grief, depression and other challenges, this gentle approach can enable them to relax and to address the unfinished work of a lifetime.
The essential practice for engaging a person and their environment is called basic attendance. This is a subtle process of being with a person in their own world as an advocate, a caregiver and a friend. It involves flexibly engaging with the individual in ordinary activities of daily life and in the community around them, balancing the elements of their life activities. Awareness and understanding deepens throughout this process and as a result the elder informs our work and we, in turn, can be of support. In this way we see the elder as teacher and at the center of the circle of support.
As part of the care of the environment, communication is carried out through regular team meetings. Because we excel at communication, the circle of support becomes more tangible and those not directly involved in daily activities, such as physicians and other professionals, also begin to benefit from the team approach. We have found this deepening of communication to be of most benefit to elders in their relationships, in quality of care, and most importantly, in their quality of life.
We support elders in their own homes, or provide supplemental care for elders in institutional settings. We also collaborate with other home care agencies and with hospice as needed to provide the most cost effective and comprehensive approach to care in each situation.