Visiting Angels makes every day heavenlyAug 25, 2023 11:05AM ● By Heidi Pool
In 2018, when Mary Lou Rottman was ready to return home after a surgical procedure, her son Randy felt strongly they should hire a caregiver on a temporary basis to assist with the transition. Having been independent her entire life, Rottman was reluctant to accept help, but agreed to give it a chance under one condition: the caregiver must love dogs, as Rottman’s Shih Tzu, Tuli, means the world to her.
Randy contacted Visiting Angels, who paired Rottman with animal-loving caregiver Holly Tumas. Five years later, Tumas spends three hours per day, five days a week, with 92-year-old Rottman, who said during a recent visit, “I can’t live without her!”
Part of a worldwide franchise, the local Visiting Angels is overseen by Care Director Jeanne Hicks, who purchased the 14-year-old business in March of last year along with partner Chris Smith.
Their team of 50 “angels,” who range in age from 18 to 88, provides non-medical home care for 91 clients in Mesa, Delta and Montrose counties, 38 of whom are veterans. In addition to helping seniors safely age in place, Visiting Angels also offers care in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
Caregiver services range from basic companionship to bathing and personal grooming assistance to Alzheimer’s and dementia support. Clients and their families choose the days, times and duration of visits. Affordable care is available seven days a week, 24 hours a day. And Visiting Angels isn’t just for those who’ve reached their golden years—anyone who needs assistance with activities of daily living may take advantage of their array of non-medical services.
“Holly walks Tuli and takes him to the vet and groomer, drives me to my doctor and hair appointments, and does my grocery shopping and other errands,” Rottman said.
But friendship is the most important service Tumas provides.
“I don’t have a lot of friends,” said Rottman, noting that she’s outlived most of them, “and Holly will sit and patiently listen to me for as long as I wish.”
Tumas even helped her assemble a “tribe” of other helpers: a house cleaner, gardener and pest control specialist.
“We’re very discerning about who we have perform services here,” Tumas said. “It has to be just the right fit.”
Likewise, ensuring the “right fit” between client and caregiver is also a job one for Hicks and her staff.
“When a prospective client contacts us, we perform a thorough, in-person assessment,” she said. “From there, we develop a care plan for that client’s specific needs. We then select the staff member we think is the best match for the client’s personality and interests. If it’s not a good fit, it takes just a simple phone call to request a different caregiver. We’ll go through every caregiver if we have to [in search of] that perfect [combination].”
Besides companionship, another aspect of Tumas’ care that Rottman particularly appreciates is meal preparation.
“Holly always has my special breakfast cereal ready for me,” she said.
She also mixes protein drinks, so Rottman has something nutritious to consume after Tumas leaves for the day.
“Before Holly, I’d never had anyone make something for me [to eat],” said Rottman.
Visiting Angels’ caregivers undergo rigorous training, are home health aide certified and must complete 13 hours of continuing education each year. New angels pass background and reference checks and a drug screening prior to being invited into training.
“We want our caregivers to be ready for anything they might encounter [at a client’s house],” said Hicks.
Family caregivers can also hire Visiting Angels for respite care. When you’re a primary caregiver it’s important, and rather challenging, to balance your own life with the needs of your loved one. An angel can give you a needed break so you can go shopping, out to lunch with friends, to appointments, or even take a short trip.
Although Rottman was initially hesitant, she now enthusiastically endorses Visiting Angels.
“[Going along with my son’s insistence to hire a caregiver] has been the best decision I’ve ever made,” she said. “It’s fantastic—the best part of my life!”
For more information, call Visiting Angels at 970-254-8888 or go to visitingangels.com/grandjunction. The local office is located at 2809 Bunting Ave., Grand Junction.