If you had asked me five years ago if our caregivers, otherwise labeled as, home health care aids, would like to work with the homeless, I would have said, “no” or “why would you ask that question?” Well, the point of the question has a deeper meaning today. Our streets of Orange County are filled with homeless individuals who are displaced, lonely, and in need of physical, emotional, cognitive, and mental assistance. The very frail on the streets are truly alone and not receiving adequate care and services, how do we know this? Well, just look at the death/mortality rate over the last five years.
More and more homeless are dying on the streets. Since 2017 the rate has gone up 53 %. Famous and compassionate, Judge Carter and Judge Smith have attacked this problem with vigor. They have analyzed the death rate, and the many causes of why homeless shelter beds are missing from our county, Cal Optima, and city budgets. They are partnering with many other passionate advocates and charities such as Illumination Foundation, the Catholic Worker, and so many others.
Judge Carter and Judge Smith’s passion, integrity, and perseverance is remarkable. It is also inspiring, hence our change in direction from Assured In Home Care, Inc. moving from only serving older adults to now helping the homeless. We still aspire to serve and care for older adults; however, lately, we have been asked to help The Illumination Foundation in their recuperative care centers, these centers serve the frail and sick homeless.
The first center our beloved caregivers assisted with last week was a homeless recuperative center in a motel in Santa Ana. “A far cry from the many homes in plush neighborhoods that we serve”, said Carla Turney, the executive director of Assured In Home Care, Inc. At first, the home health care aids were hesitant, worried, scared, and reported even being frightened. However, after working there over the last two weeks, a small miracle has occurred. The employees are loving the job! They are bonding with clients and serving those underserved in very noble ways. One of them said today, “ I am thrilled to help someone who cannot help themselves and give them a shower that is so needed.” Another commented, “I was scared at first, but now I really like the conversations we are having, and I feel I am making a difference.”
The average homeless individual has a life expectancy at 48 years young. That is horrible. As Americans, we strive to eliminate diseases, especially those that attack the young. We fight for cures and treatments. It is time for a cure for those on the streets. They deserve dignified assistance with all their activities of daily living, and they deserve the touch of kindness that our caregivers give through thought and word. I am thrilled that we are partnering with The Illumination Foundation to serve those who are sick on the streets of Orange County. No one deserves to die on the streets.
Jacqueline Lehn DuPont, Gerontologist