Today’s post is from Bobbi Jo Curty, our team’s veteran family navigator. Bobbi Jo is an experienced geriatric social worker and one of our Caregiving Advice coaches. She’ll regularly share her perspectives from the field here on the blog. Read more about Bobbi Jo’s background and passion for quality elder care.
It’s that time of year again.
Each year as Christmas rolls around, the inevitable question arises, “What should I get (so-and-so) for Christmas this year?”
This question probably pops into your mind for all the family and friends on your list, but what about the professional caregivers caring for your loved one day in and day out?
Home care agencies, long-term care facilities, and other community-based health care organizations will have their own policies regarding gifts. It’s always best to check first with an administrator or supervisor to find out what is permitted before purchasing anything.
You may wonder what’s the best way to express your thanks to the caregivers in your life. As a professional social worker with a decade of experience in long-term care settings, I’m happy to share a few tips!
Donations are gifts that keep on giving, and I love that! In fact, my siblings and I have adopted this tradition in our family. In lieu of presents, we donate to an organization near and dear to our hearts.
You may want to give a monetary donation to the business connected to caring for your loved one, or you may feel led to contribute to a larger-named organization (Alzheimer’s Association, United Way, etc.). While this may have more of an anonymous feel to it, it’s a way to impact many through a simple act of giving.
Donations can take on various forms; it’s not always a monetary gift to an organization in someone’s memory or honor. Speak to the administrator to see if the business involved in your loved one’s care is in need of any items relating to basic daily care needs (toiletries, lotions, clothing, etc.) or independent leisure activity items (word searches, bingo prizes, books, etc.).
“Gifts for all”
If your loved one resides in a group setting or senior living community, they will have ongoing interactions with numerous caregivers throughout the day. It’s challenging—and costly—when you want to remember all of these caregivers. And sometimes, you may not even know all the people who care for your loved one on a given day or week.
To that end, many care organizations embrace the concept of “gifting for all,” which basically looks like providing a gift the entire staff or care unit can enjoy.
I can remember a particular example of this which brought a lot of joy to all the staff involved: the gift of back massages! A family member paid for certified massage therapists to come into the facility during a scheduled time (of course, after collaborating with the administrator). Staff members were then able to sign up for a time slot that fit their schedule, then receive a back massage while at work to loosen up tense muscles—all while feeling acknowledged and appreciated.
Who doesn’t love free food when working long hours during the holiday season? Trust me, the professional caregivers taking care of your loved one will be very grateful to receive food as a gift.
I cannot count the number of times when I received food as a thank you while serving as a healthcare staff member. These gifts are given throughout the year as well, but during the holidays, it’s a special way to celebrate—and to feel appreciated.
Food just has a way of making you smile. It meets your tangible need of hunger while also fostering joy and socialization while caregiving.
Not sure what to bring? Here are some great ideas for food gifts:
- Fruit basket
- Variety of energy bars
- Cold cuts & sandwich materials
Thank you cards
Don’t underestimate the power of kind words written in a thank you (or holiday) card. Among the most meaningful gifts I’ve received from family members over the years have been heartfelt, handwritten cards expressing their gratitude. I’ve cherished these messages and I’ve saved them long after they’ve been written.
Showing a caregiver that they’re remembered, valued, and appreciated goes a long way. Whether you choose a physical gift, a donation, or a hug, acknowledging the importance of the role they have in taking care of your loved one will bring them joy and warmth during this Christmas season—and all year long.