Compassionate caregiving: Arbors aide is national award finalist

Janet Wheelock from The Arbors was one of three nation-wide finalists for Benchmark’s Compassionate Caregiver of the Year award.
Janet Wheelock from The Arbors was one of three nation-wide finalists for Benchmark’s Compassionate Caregiver of the Year award.

Janet Wheelock, a personal care aide at The Arbors at Shelburne, received honorable mention for the 2016 National Compassionate Caregiver of the Year award this year. The annual award recognizes health care professionals from across the country who exemplify extraordinary devotion and compassion in caring for their patients.

Wheelock, who resides in Colchester, was nominated by Benchmark Senior Living, the parent company of The Arbors, and was one of three finalists selected from among 5,500 Benchmark employees at senior living centers across the nation. She was presented with honorable mention at Benchmark’s 14th annual award gala in Boston on April 5.

Janet Wheelock said that she was inspired to become involved in caregiving from an early age, when her older sister, who was 17 at the time, was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Wheelock notes many similarities between her sister and the dementia patients with whom she currently works.

“It’s fulfilling for me to be able to educate myself and bring some joy to folks similar to my sister,” Wheelock said. “It just means the world to me to bring a little joy into their life.”

Benchmark Senior Living Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Thomas H. Grape says truly compassionate care includes listening carefully to residents and families, respecting residents’ values, culture, and decisions, and constantly displaying a positive attitude.

“Janet serves as an inspiring model for all of us at Benchmark in providing this kind of care every day,” Grape said.

Wheelock emphasizes that compassionate caregiving is a community effort. “It’s not just me, it’s everybody here at work, from housekeeper to top of management,” she said. “With all of us working as a team we’re giving the best possible care that these residents can receive, and they deserve it.”

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