A Touch Of Grace
● By Claudia Mosby
Story: Claudia Mosby Photos: Tracey Hedge
COMPASS SHININGCARE'S GRACE PLACE
There is a hidden gem at 1448 Pine St., inside the historic Thompson house, one of the oldest in Redding. From the outside, the building doesn’t call much attention to itself, but those who enter Grace Place Tea House & Gift Boutique soon realize they have discovered a unique and wonderful place.
Wood floors and a warm décor accent a large open interior that includes a brick fireplace, round tables with cushioned chairs and large picture windows overlooking a garden. Tea and coffee lovers can choose from brand and specialty blends (many organic) with or without breakfast, lunch or a sweet treat from the menu, or select an original or handmade item from the boutique, knowing that their purchase supports a good cause.
“GracePlace is about creating community,” says Joanne McCarley, Executive Director of Compass ShiningCare, the non-profit organization that operates the tea house. “We started it as a creative way to raise money, knowing we couldn’t rely on grants.”
Compass ShiningCare provides client assessment, care planning and management services to seniors, while also assisting people with disabilities and those living with mental illness in Shasta County. “Having a care manager is like having an extended family member who can take on some of the responsibility so family members can be family,” says McCarley.
Before forming Compass ShiningCare, she was a founding partner of COMPASS, LLC, a business that provides independent and supported living services to disabled adults and seniors. After opening three offices from Redding to Campbell, McCarley says, “I wanted to focus back on my local community to shine light on the difficulties we are facing and provide solutions to restore a full quality of life for people.” In 2009, she sold her investment in COMPASS and started Compass ShiningCare.
As a certified geriatric care manager and former discharge planner for a rehabilitation hospital, McCarley frequently witnessed the gap between available resources and an elderly person’s ability to access them. As a result, Compass ShiningCare creates a “circle of support,”placing the client at the center with the care manager serving as a liaison between clients, their families and their needs (for example, medical, therapeutic, legal, financial or transportation services).
“They get to live their lives and visit with their grandkids and their friends or enjoy the park and not be totally consumed with medical concerns,” says McCarley. “It’s sort of a ‘neighbors helping neighbors’ approach.” The agency also provides personal assistance and home care services on a sliding-fee scale.
“We try to equip families with what to ask and how to advocate for themselves,” McCarley says. “If that fails, we as experts understand all the systems of care and know how to navigate them. We know what’s reasonable to request and can help find a solution that works for everybody and move forward.” She discovered the necessity for such support when her own elderly mother broke a hip. “The medical staff didn’t see me as a professional but as a daughter,” she says. “I had to call our office and have a staff member call in order to get the services I was advocating.”
Clients, their family members and the community also have access to a resource library, located on the same site as GracePlace and Compass ShiningCare’s administrative offices. Summer plans include setting up a computer lab staffed by volunteers to assist those seeking more information.
As for GracePlace, it’s living up to McCarley’s vision. Last spring, seniors and at-risk youth celebrated Older Americans Month and Join Hands Day by planting flowers together in the Tea House garden; Haven Humane Society, one of Compass ShiningCare’s Gatekeeper Organizations (see sidebar), is sponsoring several “Pals for Seniors” companion pet outreach events outdoors at GracePlace throughout the summer. Planning is under way to offer free hobby classes on site.
“None of us really lives independently,” says McCarley. “We all have services we need or services we provide to others. The main thing we want people to know is they are not alone and life can still be good no matter what your circumstance.” •
COMPASS SHININGCARE’S GATEKEEPER PROGRAM
Joanne McCarley, executive director of Compass ShiningCare, shares a story of an elderly client who, although unable to do so safely, regularly drove himself to the grocery store to see a clerk that he considered one of only two friends. As in this instance, many service providers are unaware of their importance in an elderly person’s life, yet due to their role, they are uniquely placed to help those most in need.
“Many people will assume, ‘Oh, they have family and friends to help them,’ but oftentimes that isn’t true,” she says. “They will, however, accept help if someone they trust connects them. Often it’s that service provider acting as a Gatekeeper.”
The Gatekeeper Program, based on an international model, offers training, resources and ongoing support to participating businesses. It equips people like hairdressers, pharmacists and postal workers with skills to identify at-risk elderly consumers like the one in McCarley’s example and refer them to Compass ShiningCare for services and support.
Many employees themselves are dealing with care concerns for an elderly family member, and Gatekeeper training affords them skills for use on the job, but also valuable information for use within their own families.
Training is free and customizable, adding, “We know everyone is busy so we tailor the training to each organization’s needs.” Regularly scheduled trainings are also offered twice monthly at Compass ShiningCare’s offices.
Funding for the Gatekeeper program comes through a partnership with Shasta County Health and Human Services and the Mental Health Services Act. •
www.shiningcare.org • (530) 232-5543