Tag Archives: caregivers

Adventures in Caring: the art of being with those who are suffering

Adventures in Caring: the art of being with those who are suffering

Taking care of people, children, the elderly, sick people or people in need is an art, a gift that not everybody is able or would like to do. But fortunately, there are people out there that do it and do it very well.

We all understand that when something unexpected happens or when people are facing age and loneliness, distress can come in many ways. Here is where caregivers come in to save the day. They provide the amazing service of helping and giving a companion to those who need it.

And who needs it? well, of course, people of certain age that are already in the last stage of life and people that need to relieve the grief, anxiety, and despair that comes after a strong experience or when faced with a serious illness or injury. And again, here is where caregivers come in to save the day.

In this occasion we are going to talk about a charity that is located in Santa Barbara, California, 1528 Chapala St. Suite #202, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, called Adventures in Caring.  They aim at producing materials, methods, and programs that can last in time and help other caregivers and professionals do their job in the best way possible. the idea is to create something like a “school” of caregivers where the practice of compassion for people in distress is passed on to future generations at a high standard and that it is correctly applied in order to work directly with the mental, emotional and spiritual distress that people face when they suffer from a hard sickness or an unexpected physical or emotional trauma. With the information provided by Adventures In Caring, professionals and people that work in caregiving can mix psychological and physical therapies in order to alleviate the patients to the point that the mind stops affecting them and starts helping them.

Their story is amazing and touching.

The founder, Karen fox had the brilliant idea after receiving one of the worst news of her life. It was 1983 and Karen Fox was at her desk as usual. She then received a phone call from her doctor’s office saying that her test had some problems and that cancer had returned. She couldn’t believe it and sat down to swallow the news. She then saw a picture of a doll and a little girl holding the hand of a doctor. The doll was called Raggedy Ann. She then had the idea. It hit her, just like the news had hit her a few minutes before.

Still feeling dizzy from the news, she told her boss, an old school doctor, that she had a crazy idea to help others: “What if I dressed up as Raggedy Ann, and visited the patients across the street at Cottage Hospital on my lunch hour?” the doctor looked down at her and knew she was serious because she had worked as a medical assistant and administrator for him for almost 15 years. He then asked  “Well what is your intention?” her answer was that she hoped to lift patients´ spirits, their heart might open, and maybe there could be some type of emotional contact, making the patient know that someone cares, someone actually understands and feels the patient’s emotions.  The doctor thought it was an amazing and encouraged her to make the phone call as soon as possible. She made the call and the adventure began.

Image courtesy of a4gpa at Flickr.com
Image courtesy of a4gpa at Flickr.com

Adventures in Caring began with their Raggedy Ann & Andy visiting program in hospitals and nursing homes and it still is working as for today. With the idea of giving a companion to people in their darkest hour, when they are feeling alone, afraid, and in pain, the volunteers at Adventure In Caring visit patient with their very famous catch phrase “Hi, it’s Raggedy Ann, would you like a visit?”

But the idea had to evolve. As time passed, many doctors and clinics asked the staff:  How do you train your volunteers so well? Can you teach our people the same skills?” So Karen and her husband Simon had to do something about it. They created a complete workshop, wrote a book, and made a lot of videos in order to share all the information and stories that would eventually help the nurses and caregivers at hospitals. After having all the information compiled, the next obvious step was to upload it to a website for easy access.  Nowadays this website is used by more than 5,000 organizations nationwide, Hospitals, churches, charities, and academic institutions in order to teach the art of compassion to staff, students, and volunteers.

Be sure to also check this amazing post on a charity that is taking care of wildlife in the area of Santa Barbara, California.