Becca Moro, 27, of Shelburne Falls, is an alternate caregiver for LifePath’s Adult Family Care (AFC) and Shared Living Programs. These programs offer compassionate, individualized care in a nurturing home environment. Members are individuals who cannot live alone safely because of medical, physical, cognitive, or mental health challenges. Members live in caregivers’ homes in local communities, allowing care recipients to maintain lasting community relationships. Caregivers earn a tax exempt stipend, which allows them to earn income, while staying at home.
Alternate caregivers like Becca provide respite care while full-time caregivers are away. Becca agreed to speak to The Good Life about this vital role.
What made you choose to become an alternate caregiver?
My mom has been a caregiver since 2004 so I have constantly been around individuals with disabilities since I was 9 years old. I’ve seen how much joy caregiving brings her, and I’ve made so many great relationships with her clients through the years that it just made sense for me to step into that role as well.
I love developing relationships with the people I look after and I really enjoy the feeling of making an impact on someone’s life and providing experiences they may not otherwise have.
What is rewarding about this role?
Truly everything about it. I love developing relationships with the people I look after and I really enjoy the feeling of making an impact on someone’s life and providing experiences they may not otherwise have.
What is challenging?
Obviously each client has their own set of challenges in addition to their wonderful qualities. There’s always a learning curve getting to know people’s personalities, as well as their interests, likes, and dislikes. That’s true for any individual, regardless of their abilities.
How have you enhanced someone’s life by doing this work?
I strongly believe that this line of work is all about enhancing someone’s quality of life, and if I can provide somebody with a good experience, whether it’s one day or a whole week, I’m all for it. I love seeing the smile on a client’s face when I’ve provided them with a new experience, or even something as small as seeing them enjoy a meal I cooked. It’s important for me to know that my clients are happy and enjoying their time with me.
What would you like to tell people who are considering becoming an alternate caregiver?
Do it! You won’t regret it. I feel like my life has been so much more meaningful since I’ve started as an alternate caregiver. I love opening my home to others and making people feel welcome, so it’s perfect for me.
About how often do you fill in as a caregiver, and how long have you been in this role?
Well I have been [in the role of] companion with LifePath for over 10 years now, so I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know many of the individuals in this program through my time with that. As a companion, my role varies with each client. Oftentimes I work with individuals to improve their life skills, including things like health and fitness, money management, and socialization. Sometimes the goal is truly just increasing their quality of life with fun activities such as going to the movies, the fair, or a baseball game. Beyond that, my focus is really about building a strong relationship based on friendship and love for each individual.
I started doing alternate care more formally about 2 years ago when I moved into my home in Shelburne. I probably have about 8 or 9 individuals who I take in as needed. This includes when a client’s caregiver goes on vacation or when they just need some respite time. I see my companion clients weekly, and I’m asked regularly, “When can I sleep at your house again?” It makes me so happy to know that they really enjoy staying with me.
How do you make members feel comfortable?
It’s important to make clients feel welcome in my home. They typically meet my husband, Dan, and my Goldendoodle, Rosie, beforehand. I also try to ask questions to get to know them, listen to what they like and dislike, try to make foods I know they’ll enjoy, and just be open and kind. I also make sure their room is clean and cozy, and includes everything that I would want in my own room, such as a mirror, fan, good lighting, etc. It’s nice because our guest rooms are downstairs with a full bathroom, so guests can have their privacy when they want it. I think respecting boundaries (on both ends) is a big part of comfortability when you’re new to someone else’s home.
What are important qualities to possess as an alternate caregiver?
Kindness, patience, empathy—if you have these three qualities the rest will come naturally!
Tell me a little about yourself beyond this role.
In addition to my companion and alternate caregiver roles, I’ve also worked at Buckland-Shelburne Elementary School for the past 5 years. I married my husband in Hawaii last September on our 3 year anniversary. I stay pretty busy with my clients and the kiddos, so we don’t have kids of our own just yet (unless you count our Goldendoodle Rosie . . . she’s our baby). In my free time I like to spend time with family, ski, float down the river, or travel somewhere new.
If you want to learn more about becoming an alternate caregiver for Adult Family Care or Shared Living, please call LifePath at 413-773-5555, X1230 or 978-544-2259, X1230 to speak to a Resource Consultant, or email info@LifePathMA.org.