With our Care Expert Spotlight series, we’re taking a peek into the lives of Wellthy's amazing care professionals.
This month we interviewed Alison Weinberger, a Canada-based Care Coordinator, and Certified Licensed Social Worker by trade. Wellthy expanded into Canada in 2021 to provide localized support for both members who live in Canada and for US-based members with loved ones in Canada. Today, we have Coordinators in the US, Canada, the UK, and Ireland, who work directly with families to understand their care needs, create a care plan, prioritize tasks, and get things done on their behalf. Wellthy Care Coordinators can be thought of as a family’s project manager, quarterback, and personal advocate in their care journey.
Alison is also a Moderator for Wellthy Community, a peer support network for Wellthy members allowing family caregivers to connect with each other online. For more information on Wellthy Community, check out this post.
Do you have a personal caregiving story?
I have been a caregiver for most of my life in one way or another, from a very young age. Ever since I was about four years old my mother would take me to visit my grandfather in a nursing home. She would use me for what she called “baby therapy," and would put me in the laps of residents who didn't have many visitors. It would make them happy, make them laugh, so my desire to be with seniors and their families was ingrained in me from a young age.
Being the social worker in the family, and being in the sandwich generation, my role in my family looks very similar to the work I do here at Wellthy. I’m very involved in caring for my aging in-laws, as well as my aunt who is like a second mother to me, particularly because my mother passed away when I was young. Unfortunately, over the last few years she has lost her mobility and is bed-bound.
What did you do in your career before joining Wellthy?
I have been a Certified Licensed Social Worker for 15 years. Before joining Wellthy, I spent most of my career at the CLSC, or local community service center, in Quebec where I specialized in home care services and worked directly with aging adults. I also spent time at our central placement agency for long-term care, where I oversaw all of the placement requests in a very large territory of Montreal. And lastly, I worked in a rehab hospital for neuro rehabilitation for those who suffered from conditions such as strokes or traumatic brain injuries.
What’s your favorite part about being a Care Coordinator at Wellthy?
I have to say that being a Care Coordinator at Wellthy has brought me back to the true joy of being a social worker, and eliminates a lot of what I didn’t love about working in the public system. I get to help families every day, make connections with those who are in difficult situations, and see the real impact I’m having on their lives. I often hear feedback such as, “I finally feel like I have a partner in my caregiving journey”, and “I was so stressed before coming to Wellthy”, and that gives me a real sense of purpose.
Like I said, I’m a member of the sandwich generation, and being able to work from home makes it easier for me to tend to my family's care needs as well as my own while also doing what I love.
What are examples of care tasks that you support Wellthy members with?
Many of the tasks that I support relate to my prior experience as a social worker. I support in hiring private in-home care, receiving and submitting insurance claims, and amid the shortage of family physicians in Canada right now, I spend a lot of time locating medical providers and securing appointments for Wellthy members. It really is a full-time job and if I can take those tasks off of families’ to-do lists to give them time back in their day, I want to do the best that I can.
How is the caregiving support you provide in Canada different from the US?
Caregiving in Canada is different from the US in that we have a social healthcare system here. This means I work closely with government entities, locating resources, vetting solutions and securing spots on waitlists. There also aren’t insurance claims to contest the way there are in the US.
What advice would you give to a first-time caregiver?
The most important advice I’d have for caregivers is to remember to take care of themselves. The most common thing I see in all of the years I’ve worked as a social worker is that caregivers tend to miss their own doctor appointments, or they don’t take advantage of respite care or mental health breaks to support themselves. This can lead to burnout and other very detrimental effects overtime!