Every day throughout America, hundreds of thousands of nurses, home care aides, therapists and social workers care for patients in their homes, making a remarkable difference to individuals and their families. For one young man from Old Forge, a career in caring is the latest step in a life marked by serving others.
Matthew Van Fleet is a direct care worker for Allied Services Integrated Health System’s In-Home Services, a program that serves more than 350 individuals across 23 counties in Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania. Workers like Matthew assist individuals with disabilities and older adults with activities of daily living, making it possible for them to remain in their own homes.
Matthew and his clients, Sean and Richard Heiss.
At only 30 years of age, Matthew has lived a varied and accomplished life. His many roles have included Marine Corp Infantryman, musician, composer, professional boxer and father. Seven years ago, he added professional carer to that list.
“I never imagined that I would want to do this kind of work, but it’s become a huge part of my life” remarks Matthew. “I don’t miss a day of work, because I know how much people depend on me.”
For the past four years, Matthew has been working with Richard and Sean Heiss. The brothers, who have Becker’s Muscular Dystrophy and are wheelchair-bound, live in Pittston with their sister Lois and her husband Harold.
Richard, 44, first used Allied Services In-Home in 2005. At that point, he was living with his mother. Having someone to assist with his daily routine was a huge relief to Richard, who worried about the stress and strain his care placed on his mother.
When Sean, 41, moved to the area a year later, he also turned to Allied Services In-Home for help.
“Without Allied Services, I don’t have a day” says Sean. “I’d be stuck in bed.”
That’s just not an option for the brothers, who match Matthew’s passion for life. In his youth, Richard pursued a career in food services and still acts as sous chef for the family. Sean, who holds a MS in Marine Biology, once worked on coral reefs and enjoys writing poetry.
The brothers agree that what Matthew and the other Allied Services care workers do for them goes beyond the practicalities of everyday routine.
“When you have a family member caring for you 24/7, that can cause too much stress, too much anger and resentment” notes Sean. Outside help takes some of that pressure off, helping to restore family relationships.
Matthew is known by Richard, Sean and the other families he serves as being highly dependable, skilled and caring.
“As soon as you meet Matt and see that he knows what he’s doing and truly cares, you’re sold” comments Sean.
“He has a good sense of humor. That’s important in this house” laughs Richard.
For Matthew, the friendship he has built with the whole family is what makes the work worthwhile.
“I don’t know if you can look at it as work when you get to hang out with your buddies” comments Matthew.
To learn more about becoming a direct care worker contact the Human Resources Department at Allied Services at 570-348-1348 or 1-800-368-3910.