Longtime caregiver works to make difference in others' lives

Longtime caregiver works to make difference in others' lives

REPOSTED FROM TIMES TRIBUNE BY TERRIE MORGAN-BESECKER STAFF WRITER 

Priscilla Maciejeski grabs her bag of supplies from her car as she prepares to enter Regina McAvoy’s apartment at the Delaware Towers complex in Scranton.

McAvoy, 72, suffers from multiple sclerosis and other medical conditions that robbed her of the ability to do many of life’s daily tasks.

Maciejeski, a personal care aide with Allied Services Integrated Health System, is there to help.

It’s 1:45 p.m. and McAvoy is already her fourth client of the day. Maciejeski, 63, ignores the slight fatigue that begins to set in. She’s got to make McAvoy’s lunch — a chicken salad sandwich on a hard roll — and tidy up the room before heading out to do McAvoy’s grocery shopping.

It’s a routine the Covington Twp. woman has repeated hundreds, if not thousands, of times in the roughly 30 years she’s worked in the personal care field — an anomaly in an industry that had a 65.2% turnover rate in 2020, according to a study cited by the Home Care Association of America.

Most new hires last six months to a year, if that, said Tracy Hunt, assistant vice president of in-home services for Allied Services.

“It’s a hard job,” Hunt said. “You are going into all different types of situations. Some situations aren’t always as nice as others.”

Maciejeski was drawn to the profession by a desire to help others, knowing she could make a difference in their lives, no matter how small.

People like another one of her clients, 94-year-old Veronica Sedlisky, of Scranton.

Maciejeski first took care of Sedlisky’s disabled daughter until 2018, when she died. Sedlisky then needed help so the agency transferred services to her.

“She is what this program is all about,” Maciejeski said. “She is very with it (mentally), so there is no need for her to be in a nursing home. … Without me coming in, she would not be able to stay at home.”

Most days the job is very rewarding, but others prove more challenging, she said.

Maciejeski never knows what’s going to greet her on the other side of the door. Sometimes the client happily engages in conversation, telling tales of their younger days. Other times the mood is somber.

“You have to learn how to deal with someone who’s depressed or are angry that their life ended up where it did,” she said. “You really have to be able to sit down and listen to them. … It can take a toll on you emotionally.”

This day is one of the good ones. Her three prior clients were relatively easy, requiring just some quick meal preparation, minor housekeeping and personal care.

At McAvoy’s apartment, another aide did most of the housekeeping in the morning. Maciejeski’s time this visit is mostly spent at the supermarket, picking up some prepared meals, fruits and vegetables for McAvoy.

McAvoy is one of her “talkers,” Maciejeski says.

“You have given me the opportunity to have a regular life as much as I can,” she tells Maciejeski. “That’s what you people have done for me. You let me have a life and independence.”

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