How Nurse Next Door Home Care Franchise Honored a Friend’s Life Through Pancakes and Hymns
He loved to tend his flowers and shrubs — until he no longer could. Nurse Next Door did everything possible to get him close to his garden again.
He died early on a Friday morning near the end of May 2010, a man of 88 who had lost his ability to care for himself, lost even the ability to walk down the stairs to tend the enormous garden he loved.
His caregivers had known for a month or so that the end was coming soon, and they were merely keeping him comfortable. On this morning, they alerted the family in time for them to say goodbye, and Kim Kendrick began calling the caregivers who had planned to tend to him that day. There’s no need to come today, she told them. He’s gone.
They came anyway, all five of them.
Kim owns and runs the Nurse Next Door location in Richmond, B.C., and a nurse had referred the man’s family to Kim a couple of months before. The man — let’s call him Charles — was a diabetic and clearly losing his ability to walk, an alarming development since he lived in a two-story house with only his wife to help him. His appetite and energy were waning, and a doctor he visited to treat a small wound on his ankle was alarmed enough at his condition to send Charles to Richmond General Hospital. They treated and released him, but Charles needed in-home care.
Starting hospice care
This was around Easter. At first, the family arranged for a couple of caregivers to come by in the morning and evening to help him bathe and get into and out of bed. But within weeks, Kim was consulting with her caregivers who specialize in palliative care. “He was going downhill quite quickly,” she says. The caregivers consulted with the family and began around-the-clock pain management.
On the day he stopped walking, a Saturday, Kim couldn’t secure a wheelchair, so she began calling around to her other clients to see if anyone had a spare. A couple did, but the chairs were too small to hold Charles’ 6-foot-2 frame. So Kim, her husband, Brett, and a pair of caregivers hoisted him into a wheeled stenographers’ chair, rolled him to his bedroom and got him into bed, where he stayed until Kim could get a hospital bed in the house on Monday.
The team set the wheeled bed near a window on the first floor so Charles could look out at the garden he had lovingly tended for the decades he and his wife had lived in the house, a garden full of shrubs, calla lilies and other flowers that spread around the sides. It was where Charles had found solace, and he knew he’d never be able to work in the garden again. But the team made sure he could at least see it, occasionally wheeling the bed to the back patio, too.
All the while, Charles won his caregivers’ hearts with his calm, gentle manner and, Kim says, his “marshmallow heart.” He was a tall man, and gaunt toward the end, with a white moustache, known to wear thick “lumberjack shirts” that gave away his love for the outdoors. He called his caregivers his “angels.”
When he died, his angels came to say goodbye.
Pancakes and hymns
Charles’ wife, daughter, brother and sister-in-law were staying at the house, and they recalled that morning that Charles’ favorite breakfast was pancakes. So his caregivers tended to Charles’ needs one last time, fixing pancakes for everyone.
That wasn’t all. Kim herself was remembering her own loss, a beloved uncle who had died three years before after a long and painful battle with ALS; it was the experience that drove her to Nurse Next Door. On this day, she handled all the post-mortem duties — contacting the funeral home, arranging for a doctor to register time of death — while remembering that her own family had gathered in their home after her uncle’s death and sung hymns while waiting for the funeral home to pick up his body.
So now she did for Charles’ family what she would have wanted her uncle’s caregivers to do for hers. Kim has played piano since she was a child and taught lessons for several years. So she sat down at the old upright in the living room and began playing and singing hymns. The family, devout people, began to sing along, brushing away tears, and the caregivers joined in. That was their way of honoring Charles’ long life and coping with his death.
That’s how Nurse Next Door thinks about care for each of our clients. It’s not just about meeting their physical needs. It’s about meeting the emotional and psychological needs of the clients and clients’ families alike. When Kim sat at the piano to sing, she was doing something way outside the scope of what a standard home care franchise would even think of — but what we think of as just another way to provide our clients with the care they need.
If this is the sort of care you feel called to provide, and through a thriving small business with a demonstrated and growing market, we want to hear from you. Fill out our form to download our free franchise report, and let’s start talking about how you can start making the lives of people like Charles and his family better.