Posts tagged #Seniors

Black History Month - A Tribute to Caregiving in African-American Families

 by Yolanda Webb

Photo taken by Yolanda Webb

Photo taken by Yolanda Webb

The Beauty of Black History is that we are still making it every single day.  As we celebrate Black History this month, it has been interesting for me to research and define a profile that summarizes caregiving and those who are entering the field of in-home care (either as family caregivers or paid supports) to help provide quality services and supports to those requiring such services.

It should be noted that the face of caregiving is changing and varies from family caregiver models to hiring quality service providers like Meritan to provide in-home care.  What are the characteristics of those who are entering the caregiving field now or those caring for loved ones at home?  According to AARP, the typical caregiver is 44.2 years old (those entering the field as well), is in very good health, has an outgoing personality, can assist with up to 4.2 ADL’s (Activities of Daily Living) and can provide a comforting and quality of life environment for the care recipient.  

Since the in-home caregiving model has also expanded in recent years beyond senior care to include, individuals with Developmental Disabilities, those with HIV/AIDS, and other chronic conditions (mostly due to changes in Medicaid Managed Care guidelines), I thought I would share the names and experiences of some famous African-Americans who have served or are serving in caregiving roles and share their thoughts on working with those with disabilities, the elderly or those with other chronic conditions.  Their words of wisdom are shared to honor the role caregivers play in the lives of those they serve.  

Samuel L. Jackson - who lost his mother to Alzheimer's

“Laughter is good medicine for the caregiver and the person cared for.”  Jackson became the celebrity host for the Alzheimer's Association’s event called Hilarity for Charity recently and recounted his days as a sole caregiver for his mother who suffered from dementia and lost her fight in 2012.

Holly Robinson-Peete - “Caregivers must accept the hard decision”

Actress, and wife of NFL star Rodney Peete recounts the day it became clear that her father had to transition from in-home care to a 24-hour facility.  While the care was phenomenal, moving her father from independence to dependence was one of the hardest decisions she and her brother ever had to make.

Oprah Winfrey - “Let the Sunshine In”

Recently on Super Soul Sunday, Oprah Winfrey talked about the role of caregivers (both family and paid in-home supports) and getting through the process by getting help through understanding the emotions the person cared for must go through.  Winfrey asked if caregivers would consider learning more from the joyful times the person may have had rather than focus on the needs being cared for.  And to remember that the person has/had a full life of laughter, love, hope and joy.

Dan Gasby - (husband of famed model and restaurateur B. Smith who has Alzheimer's) - “It’s definitely the hardest job I’ve ever had in my life.”  The two wrote the bestselling book, “Before I Forget: Love, Hope, Help, and Acceptance in Our Fight Against Alzheimer's.

Queen Latifah - The actress cares for her ailing mom who lives with the chronic condition of heart failure.  

Blair Underwood - The star’s mom has physical disabilities and his 2013 television show Ironside he described as “kind of a tribute to her,” as he helps to provide her in-home care.

This Black History Month, I’m reminded of the wonderful stories of caregiving I hear on a daily basis from clients, their families and staff alike, and the tremendous progress we have made in human service to ensure that those with disabilities, who are elderly or have physical disabilities/chronic conditions continue to live lives of dignity and respect.

Meritan offers CNA Tuition Assistance!

Congratulations Angelique Davis!

Congratulations Angelique Davis!

Congratulations to Melody Hampton!

Congratulations to Melody Hampton!

Meritan offers CNA Tuition Assistance for individuals wishing to become a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA). The training is a 5-week course that involves classroom work, facility orientation, and hands-on instruction. To qualify, you must have worked for at least 20 hours per week for at least four weeks, worked for the agency for at least sixth months, and not had any disciplinary action within the last 12 months.

We would like to take a moment to acknowledge Angelique Davis and Melody Hampton for completing the CNA program. We also would like to announce that Rodney Allen and Deanne Thomas has been accepted into the program starting July 10, 2017. Let’s congratulate and wish them great success.

Remember, it is your right to choose your in-home medical care. Meritan's Home Health follows the direction of your doctor, to care for you while you recover from illness, injury, or surgery. We accept Medicare, VA and private pay. Meritan is a top 25% provider in the nation for quality and patient experience. We care about both the success of our patients and employees. 

 "Ultimately, leadership is not about glorious crowning acts. It’s about keeping your team focused on a goal and motivated to do their best to achieve it, especially when the stakes are high and the consequences really matter. It is about laying the groundwork for others’ success, and then standing back and letting them shine." -Chris Hadfield

Congratulations Deanne Thomas!

Congratulations Deanne Thomas!

Congratulations Rodney Allen!

Congratulations Rodney Allen!

Posted on June 30, 2017 and filed under Home Health.

Meet Mrs. Kathey


Have you met Clara Kathey? Mrs. Kathey is a 76 year old participant in our Title V, Senior Job Training and Employment Program. Meritan’s Title V program is about “combining community service and a paycheck until you find your next job.”

Meritan provides on-the-job training for unemployed and/or low-income for those individuals ages 55 and older. This program helps seniors who want to enter or re-enter the workforce but need more career training to better prepare them for the new work-world experience. Our Title V participants receive paid on-site job training at a public agency or a non-profit organization. Our Title V Coordinators help our participants find jobs after their job training is complete. Seniors can be enrolled into this program for a duration of four years. Mrs. Kathey is an outstanding Title V participant that makes an impact to majority of the seniors in the Memphis community.

Mrs. Kathey teaching a Title V Participant how to use WiFi.

Mrs. Kathey heard about Meritan’s Senior Job Training and Employment Program through a strange occurrence. She had been retired for a year and became restless. She received a phone call from Senior Services office in Washington. Mrs. Kathey then told the lady on the phone what she was interested in doing, which was getting back to work part-time. The lady on the phone from Washington then referred Meritan, Inc. to Mrs. Kathey.

She was first assigned to be a receptionist at a homeless shelter; however, 2 days before she began, Meritan offered another job training that appeared to be a better match for Mrs. Kathey. Mrs. Kathey became Title V’s  “Digital Trainer.” Her job training included training seniors around the city of Memphis on how to use modern technology.  Our Title V Coordinators have Mrs. Kathey an instructional book and suitcase, and from there it’s history.

Mrs. Kathey goes to several appointments in Senior Centers to teach other seniors how to best use technology. She loves teaching her iPad classes throughout all of the senior centers. She loves what she does because she teaches those who have a fear of technology. After feels accomplished after the seniors get acquainted with modern technology.

Mrs. Kathey would tell seniors that “The most that they {technology} do is what you feed into them.” She also uses an analogy that she created to help seniors understand the home button on the iPad with comparing the home button to Poplar Avenue. She explains that if you get lost on the iPad, remember to press the home button and get back on Poplar, so you can find your way home.

Currently, there is around 35 seniors on the waiting list. Each digital training course last about 2-4 hours depending on the client’s need. Mrs. Kathey stated, “It has been a joy. I feel good teaching them what I know. When they {seniors} feel good I feel good.”

Mrs. Kathey teaching a Title V participant how to navigate an Android tablet.
Teaching Digital Lessons with Quality and Compassion!

Bessie's Story

After 36 years on the job, Bessie received a phone call from her employer telling her she no longer had a job.

“I was shocked. I was hurt, angry and upset,” she said. “I had worked for the company for 36 years. I worked in the factory. I figured I was so far up in seniority that it never dawned on me that I could get laid off. I felt l like I gave most of my life to the job, and now I was being thrown out to pasture, but I still had a lot of good years left in me.”

Bessie was on unemployment for over 10 months and took some workshops at the American Job Center. There she learned about Meritan’s program to help older adults re-enter the workforce. “They saved me. I was broken,” she said. “I wasn’t sure what to expect, but everyone in the program was just like me with similar stories.”

Meritan’s Title V program helps seniors 55 and older find jobs and receive job training, and the program has a 75 to 80 percent job placement rate. Bessie said that during her orientation with Meritan, she was asked “What do I like to do?” She told us she likes to cook, take care of people, and work with children. When Bessie was placed with Memphis Heritage, she got to do all three.

Bessie was in the Title V program for 48 months and met her durational limit. She said, “I thought it was over for me, but even though I was out of the program, Meritan followed up with me, told me about a job, and set up the interview for me. Using the skills I was taught and going to the workshops, Meritan prepared me for a job at my age doing something I really like: helping people. I am now employed once again with a great company. I want to say THANK YOU MERITAN!

Meritan spoke with Bessie’s supervisor and was told she is a great employee, her clients love her, and she is their biggest recruiter. Her supervisor told us, “Bessie is everything you could ask for in an employee; she’s loyal and dependable. She has referred three or more job candidates to us and all were hired. I wish we had more employees like Bessie!”


Posted on June 8, 2016 and filed under Senior Employment.

Maxie's Story

Maxies Story

Before I begin, let me tell you where I come from.  Well, it is from Sri Lanka, a beautiful larger island country settled in the northern Indian Ocean called “Sri Lanka Paradise” by tourists.  (For its beauty and lifestyle)  A country that still boasts of a rich cultural heritage.  Sri Lanka is a diverse country, home to many religions, ethnicities and languages, where ancient traditions are still held onto and practiced.

(Meritan operates the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) a job training program for eligible seniors, ages 55 and older).  This was, I must say my happiest/satisfying 2 years – Working with the nicest people I came across since arriving in America.  I did not leave this location, but was moved out as Meritan does not allow more than one year in each organization.  I had already overstayed.  By this time I was a US citizen.

Now, I come to my story….. with ‘Youth Build’ (Genesis)

An interview at W.I.N I was greeted by Mr. Alan Gumbel, Program Manager of Y/B (Youth Build), and led to a conference room where Mr. Darrel Scott and he interviewed me.  The position was for the front desk.  After a couple of questions and answers were exchanged, Mr. Gumbel handed me a sheet of paper on which there were 2 job descriptions, one on each side, and asked me which on suited me best.  It did not take me long to decide on the youth related job, and the interview continued…… I had now agreed on this assignment.

At the end of the session, whilst wrapping up I asked them “Is the job location here at WIN?”  Now listen to this…, at this point I was told it was on Lamar Avenue.  (Lamar Avenue was associated with violence/crime). I immediately declined the assignment, started sliding my papers back into my file and almost alighted from my chair, ready to make an exit.  What a scene!  The two gentlemen – their bewilderment at my performance was so evident as I changed over swiftly and was almost running away.  I still wonder what flashed through their minds at this moment!  Then, I was told that it was not such a bad location and also was not too far off, etc.  I leisurely sat down and agreed to take it from there… to give it a try!

Now back at WIN, I was introduced to the staff by Mr. Alan Gumbel, then given the literature on ‘Youth Build’ to read and gain knowledge of this subject which was an “UFO” to me.  I read with interest, made my notes and was no preparing to commence working with ‘Youth Build’.  Still visualizing, what Y/B would be like.

This was the inaugural Youth Build Program, Memphis, Tennessee.  The dream and vision of Mr. Alan Gumbel, Program Manager.

(Youth Build is a non-profit organization which provides education, counseling and job skills, to unemployed young American adults (between ages 18 and 24), generally high school drop-outs.  There are 273 Youth Build programs in the United States)


Orientation was on May the 6th, 2014, and then after the students were tested the staff and the students went over to 2788 Lamar Avenue – the location for the Youth Build program.  The feared location!  (This was the old fire station).

On arrival we were dumfounded!!  Yes that is the word! The question I asked myself “What? Am I going to work here?” The premises was so raggedy, dilapidated and was in one ball of a mess, all round – such a pitiful sight – painfully decaying in degrees in insolation due to disuse, crying out for help without a voice or tears. Inside the building, was like a dungeon – smelt bad too.  Our eyes were sore at this sight.  My head was throbbing fighting to make a decision.  Some students including myself, wanted to turn back.  But very soon, all wanted to make this ‘our place’.

Let me tell you what made me stay on…

When cleaning began (on day one), staff and students started on alternate cleaning assignments in the yard and inside the building.  I went towards the bathrooms - this girl was scrubbing the hardened smut and blackened fungus on the floor with all her might.  The eagerness to make things work for them, to turn this place into a habitable and usable unit was radiating from the manner in which she was laboring.  I immediately fetched a pair of gloves and a mask and joined her in cleaning. Unfortunately, I had to move as the bleach started reacting on me negatively since I have allergies to most chemicals.  I left the scene and went to the yard where students were clearing.  In order to get someone to come in to help her, here what I saw just pierced my heart.

(I guess this was my turning point!)  Some students were scraping off (a near excavation process) the tons of leaves that had rained down from the trees over the years and were stuck and so bonded to the ground, weather beaten, soaked by the rains, baked by the excessive heat of the summer, then frozen by the snow in the winter, now formed into a thick hard scab – very encrusted not so easy to remove… Among them were two students who had no gloves, no masks but they did not sit aside because they were minus gloves and masks, but were digging into this hard surface and scarping off the piles of dirt with their bare hands and filling the large black garbage bags!  The determination of these fallen youth to rise again!! Oh what a heartbreaking scenario.

When it came to academics – this was more serious environment where absolute silence concentration and discipline was called for constantly.  Mr. Alan Gumbel, a very dedicated instructor, was always looking for results in the range of an A, B or C levels and not less.  One of my roles was to maintain fine discipline, particularly in the class room.  I also helped the students who needed additional coaching in improving their English, hand writing, comprehension, etc. 

We had the final celebration which was the last of a series of celebrations we had along with way, birthday parties for the 3 staff members, cook-out(s) BBQ, where we all fellowshipped and enjoyed meals prepared by ourselves.  These were the fun filled events. 

The graduation was held on February 27, 2015 on a grand scale, and I must say this was the most colorful and happiest day of the Youth Build program.  Success ad accomplishment at last!

Now did I change? Oh yes!  I was always a loving and caring person.  But these qualities were not sufficient to deal with the Youth Build Cohort, who had many adjustments to be made and needed ruling with a firm hand.  As time went by, I found within me another personality that I was not aware of that lived inside of me – a tough, but more understand and a tolerant person who could withstand and overcome/face challenges, etc.  My former sensitive nature gradually started to decrease in degrees, inch by inch, bit by bit.

Now I noticed that I could face and move away obstacles, leap over hurdles, etc.  Bless this Cohort and staff for helping me discover myself.  So, I who almost ran away from the interview, I am still here (after 9months) with Youth Build now preparing to welcome the 2nd Y/B Cohort with a more mature outlook – unbelievable, but true!!


Posted on June 8, 2016 .