Elder care provider looks to clients’ spiritual needs

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2016/06/08/elder-care-provider-looks-to-clients-spiritual-needs/

BOSTON – Mary Roque and Dr. Jane Driver have a lot in common. The two friends both work in senior care, Roque as a lawyer specializing in elder law and Driver as an oncologist and geriatrician.

Both also share the Roman Catholic faith and last year found themselves bothered by a lack of truly holistic services offered by most home-care providers serving older people. Their concern was that clients’ legal and spiritual needs were often ignored by companies helping with daily life activities such as cooking, cleaning and health services.

So they decided they could do it better and partnered with businessman William H. Bowman to set up Entrust Care, which began operating last fall. Its services have been shaped by the experience of Driver and Roque. The doctor, who specializes in caring for older patients with cancer and Alzheimer’s disease at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, also teaches at Harvard Medical School and runs a Dana Farber Research Institute clinic for elderly patients with leukemia. The lawyer, a Boston native, has focused on elder-care issues, including estates and trusts, since 2008.

But they also take note of a client’s spiritual well being. So unlike other home-care providers, they ask about an individual’s spiritual needs and strive to help them in that area as well.

“We are interested in the whole person: physical, mental and spiritual,” according to the company’s website. “We are interested in his or her history, memories, concerns, connections, and hopes. We will pray with your loved one if requested, and help establish that communication with God.”

While there were more than 400 home health-care providers in Massachusetts in 2014 that offer services for privately paid fees, finding any that include a spiritual component could indeed be difficult. James Fuccione, a spokesman for the Home Care Alliance of Massachusetts, an industry association, said that sort of service isn’t typically provided even when government funding restrictions aren’t involved.

“In private pay, you can really offer whatever the person needs, and spiritual care like that is another angle that a person can take,” Fuccione said.

In keeping with their Catholic faith, Roque said, the three co-founders of the Newton, Massachusetts-based company see it as a ministry that can help those nearing the end of their lives in a more holistic way. While not all their clients feel a need for spiritual support, Roque said that most welcome the assistance.

“Obviously, end-of-life or a serious illness are very challenging to the spirit,” Roque said in an interview. “I think when you’re home sick you reflect on your life… and you need the help of a pastor or priest.”

Entrust works with clients to make that connection as part of the holistic care they provide, she said.

“We really think that this is part of serving the person. They are body and soul, and their soul needs to be nurtured and cared for and healed, just like the body,” she added.

Entrust’s 10 caregivers are trained to be comfortable with asking questions about a client’s spiritual health and are prepared to pray with them or read the Bible with someone, if asked. They’re also able to connect their clients with a local parish or priest – even driving them to services or arranging for in-home sacraments if necessary.

In addition to personal care services – which range from an hourly rate of $23 to $27 – Entrust also offers legal audits and home-care assessments. Each costs $299.

Weymouth resident John Ortiz Jr. said working with Entrust to care for his father, John Ortiz Sr., “has been a really positive experience” over the past two months. Part of that has been the company’s easy fit with his Catholic family, he said.

“The ultimate goal was to bring him home, not a nursing home,” Ortiz said about his father, whose health had hit a rough patch. After bringing him home, the family turned to Entrust for in-home services during the week.

“These people are really covering all the bases,” he said. ”They’re so compassionate and professional.”

Contact Kara Bettis at [email protected] or on Twitter @karabettis.