With our Care Expert Spotlight series, we’re taking a peek into the lives of Wellthy's amazing care professionals. This month we spoke with Sandrea Crawford, a Care Coordinator specializing in childcare and executive functioning.
Wellthy’s team of Care Coordinators and Advisers work directly with families to understand their care needs, create a care plan, prioritize tasks, and get things done on their behalf.
What is your personal caregiving story?
I cared for my grandmother and mother-in-law back-to-back. Before joining Wellthy, my grandmother had a stroke, which left her immobile and bedridden. She needed around-the-clock care, including dressing, bathing, and tending to an infection on her foot daily. Caring for her was a crash course in caregiving, as I quickly learned about programs available to help us (e.g., respite care), administering her medications, and how to physically move her in and out of bed. As I was going through that experience, I thought to myself, "If given the opportunity, I would love to make a difference and help someone not go through what I went through." Once my grandmother passed, we found ourselves in the same scenario with my mother-in-law, whom we still care for today.
How did you take advantage of respite care during your time as a caregiver?
My grandmother only had two children – my mom and my aunt. My mom worked full-time, and my aunt was disabled, so the grandchildren (myself included) had to step up and help. Care was around-the-clock. My mom was getting burned out. I was getting burned out. My sister was getting burned out. We desperately needed help.
About two years into my grandmother's care, it was determined that she was nearing the end of her life, and we brought in hospice care. Her hospice care worker introduced us to respite care, which saved us. Getting small breaks, even just for a weekend, re-energized us in a way that wouldn't have been possible otherwise.
What is unique about the work you do that family caregivers can't do themselves?
The number one thing is time. Many family caregivers have full-time jobs and their own children to care for. The families for whom I do nanny searches are so grateful that I handle the legwork for them (e.g., posting the nanny position online, sifting through all of the applications, speaking to the candidates for a preliminary screening, etc).
Once I ensure candidates meet the qualifications set by the family, it's up to the family to determine which candidate is the best fit for them, personality-wise. They appreciate being handed qualified candidates on a platter that meet their expectations. It saves them a significant amount of time not having to sort through applications that aren't viable options.
Note: Not all families have access to childcare services through Wellthy. Confirm with your employer or your Wellthy Care Coordinator if you would like to find out if you are eligible.
What advice would you give to a first-time caregiver?
I've encountered many situations where a loved one passes away unexpectedly, and the family isn't prepared – documentation isn't in order, no one knows where the life insurance policy is, and they don't know what their loved one's last wishes are.
So, my advice is that if you think you'll need assistance with medical or financial items, set up legal documentation now, like Power of Attorney (POA), executor of the estate, and life insurance. Learning what each of these is, is essential. For example, if you're the executor of their estate, you also assume all liability and debt. These things aren't common knowledge, and most people wait to think about them until it's too late.
What are some of the consequences of not planning ahead for future care situations?
I've come across many parents who don't have wills set up – so who will take care of their children if they die? Or in the case of an older loved one, many people don't think about this until the person is no longer mentally capable of completing necessary documentation. At that point, it's too late. Whoever you are, having a care plan is crucial. Whether you're young or old, healthy or ill, you need your wishes documented and accessible. Some things I recommend doing sooner rather than later include:
- Look into life insurance
- Set up a living will
- Get your legal affairs in order
- Make end-of-life wishes known
What's a common mistake you see families make related to caregiving?
The biggest mistake is people thinking they can handle it alone. I made the same mistake when caring for my grandmother. As soon as you know you may be a caregiver, even if that's 6 months or a year from now, start putting together a care plan. That way, if and when the time comes, you know where to start.
When someone sets up a Care Project, we'll match you up with someone who is an expert in the area you need help with. Then we'll schedule a call with you to listen to your situation, talk through all your options, and create a care plan based on what is needed now and what may be needed in the future. Most people aren't even aware of all the things they may need and can complete today to help relieve their stress 1, 3, or 5 years down the line.
From what you see in your work, what are some of the tasks or situations that you continually see families struggle with?
Definitely disputing claims, like a superbill. A superbill is what you're given after a hospital stay or a series of treatments that contains all the related charges on one bill. Going through the appeals process if your claim is denied is not for the faint of heart. You need someone who knows what they're doing. I'm in awe of how much knowledge our Care Advisers have when it comes to appealing. If I had to submit an appeal, I would open a Care Project and let them handle it! They know exactly what to do, what's needed, and what steps are coming next and how to prepare for those.