Visiting Angels is Helping Your Loved Ones Stay Connectedby Mary Clymer on January 8, 2021
What can a Visiting Angel do for you?
“I love what we do'' says Kevin Lambing, VP of Marketing - Community Liaison for Visiting Angels. “It’s hard to put into words because it doesn’t feel like a job, it’s a passion.”
From picking up groceries to grooming care Visiting Angels have got you covered.
“This year has made me realize how important what we do is.” Kevin continued, “People want to stay in their home. They don’t want to leave the comforts of home to be put in a care facility.”
Many of their Renton clients worked for Boeing, they are part of this community and have lived in their homes for 40 sometimes 50 years. When Visiting Angels can keep them home it’s a wonderful feeling.
It’s even more valuable when you consider the huge decline in mental health for seniors because they can’t go out. For the elderly going to Fred Meyer during the pandemic could be a death sentence.
Kevin reminded me that just because we’re social distancing doesn’t mean distantly social.
That’s part of the job at Visiting Angels. Keeping families connected. They make sure no one is alone and remind them that they have a purpose.
Within moments of meeting Kevin, it was clear that this is more than a job.
Kevin stops talking and I’m looking down frantically trying to keep up with notes from all the wonderful information he is sharing with me. I finally look up, thinking ZOOM must have broken our connection, but it was more beautiful than that.
Kevin was overwhelmed with emotion.
Noticing my eyes were now on him he immediately started apologizing. “I’m a strong person, but it’s been a hard year.” he says as he tries his best to compose himself.
At Visiting Angels they are the strong ones. Even with their connection to their clients and families, they are the ones who need to hold it together for the families, for their clients.
I don’t think the employees of Visiting Angels often get space to allow their own emotions to unravel.
It was an honor to hold space for Kevin as I realize vulnerability is not often granted to these care-takers.
When Kevin is ready to move forward he shares a story of a recent trip to the Talbot Rehabilitation facility. He recalls feeling hit with emotion as he stood there watching families talk through glass. Not being able to touch their loved ones.
He spoke of losing one of his best friends and clients this year and not being able to show any final respects that a funeral offers the living.
Beaming from his heart he shared a memory of a long-term Boeing employee who had turned 100. They worked to get him on the news as an attendant for Edgar Martinez hall of fame induction day.
“They all have a story. They’re your friends.” Kevin says with a smile in his eye and sorrow in his heart. “I go to every funeral.”
He continues with pride in his voice as he describes how good it feels to help a family keep their loved ones in their home.
The Visiting Angel care-takers job is to be there and be happy and supportive and strong for the families.
“These are heroes!” Kevin proclaims, “and we must take care of the caregivers.”
And they are hiring!
It’s the kind of work that one is called to.
Working 12-hour shifts to keep people safe in their homes isn’t for everyone. And the job, although very rewarding, is not always fun.
These caregivers can see what's in the heart of their clients. Truly amazing people.
Visiting Angels takes time to make sure they are pairing caregivers to clients with the same sensibilities.
Imagine going into the home of someone who used to rule the roast? A type-A business executive who now needs help going to the bathroom.
They can be very angry.
These are things caregivers need to be aware of before even setting foot in a client's home.
Visiting Angels are typically people who come from a background of caregiving. Perhaps they took care of a dying parent or had to become the support system to their siblings at a young age as Kevin did.
He was 16 when his Mom died. Being the oldest in the family he moved from caregiver for his Mom, to caregiver to his younger siblings all too young. But it set him up on a path. He knew he was supposed to do this work. He claims that most caregivers know.
“The reality is that at some point in each of our lives we either need a caregiver or become a caregiver.” Say’s Kevin, “All we can do is try to do all our work with empathy.”
Caregivers come to Visiting Angels at all points of life. Age doesn’t matter. The impact comes from the sense of purpose they provide. It’s not uncommon for an older caregiver to come along looking for purpose after their spouse has passed away. It’s what they are used to doing and they do it well.
Kevin was very clear with me that they are not trying to take over control from other family members. He told me this is sometimes the hardest part and reminded me that their job is to be there for family members too. The sons and daughters who are burning out with all the necessary care often have a hard time letting go.
He wants to remind those considering care that they are there to do the heavy lifting so you can use your time with them to do the bonding.
There is no replacement for family, but Visiting Angels can offer support, and become a trusted friend and companion in the process.
“The people you meet in this industry are some of the kindest humans you’ll ever meet.” Kevin burst out as our conversation came to a close.
Going into this interview I had no idea what to expect, but in the hour Kevin and I talked I felt true compassion pour through every word he spoke.
As we said our goodbyes Kevin apologies once more for his emotions, saying “I wear my heart on my sleeve, but it’s a better option than getting jaded through the years.”
I can’t imagine this man jaded. He could have talked all day about the wonderful caregivers and families Visiting Angels has the pleasure to work with.
Caregivers looking for a place to land, you might want to give Visiting Angels a try.
If you or anyone you know thinks Visiting Angels might be a good fit or if you’re just looking to learn more please contact them. They offer care for anyone 18 & older.
In an hour's time I knew this was a place I would recommend to anyone I knew looking for care. This is a company run from the heart, something we could all use a little more contact with.