Community Care Coordinator Megan Krey recently received a special thank you letter. It was so nice, her colleagues at Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services (SCES) asked to hear the story behind it.
It all started about three years ago, with a call to the state hotline for elder abuse and neglect. The caller was concerned about “Nancy,” a neighbor in her 70s who lived alone. The SCES Protective Services team followed up on that report. They didn’t find any immediate risk, but determined Nancy could use some help and referred her to the SCES Home Care program.
Nancy agreed to receive assistance, and Krey was assigned as her Case Manager. They met shortly after, and Krey’s professional opinion was that Nancy needed assistance in a number of areas. Getting to that point took some time, though.
“She was not eager to accept help,” remembered Krey. “She was fine with Meals on Wheels and liked it when her case manager dropped by, but she was not eager for anything else.”
Krey navigated the situation through a combination of meeting Nancy in her comfort zone and respecting her wishes. They arranged housekeeping through Home Care and also enrolled her in the Anchor program, which provides temporary support for Home Care clients who need additional assistance to meet specific goals.
Through Anchor, Megan met with Nancy each month and helped her tackle a to-do list that included getting her phone reconnected, renewing her affordable housing, and helping to arrange her first doctor visit in more than a decade.
The services introduced were vital but Krey said the socialization was also important. Nancy had lived alone her entire adult life; reading and listening to the radio were her primary activities, but she also enjoyed having someone to talk to.
“She was very social,” said Krey. “She would read the New York Times cover to cover each day and had opinions about everything.”
“One of the great things about Meals on Wheels is we knew she was getting food and seeing someone every day,” added Krey. “She told me a few times that seeing a driver was a high point of her day.”
Megan stayed connected with Nancy throughout COVID, helping ensure she was vaccinated and connected to her doctor’s office.
Nancy passed away in 2020, and not long afterward, Krey received a letter from Nancy’s sister, which included the following:
“My sister was an intelligent, talented and very independence woman who was always on guard against anyone who tried to tell her what to do or how to live. Yet, for those last years she enjoyed those visits from her caseworker Megan Krey and other staff. She didn’t always accept Megan’s suggestions, but she knew she could rely on her continuing concern and genuine affection…. I am so grateful for the care my sister received and the peace of mind it brought me, to know there was someone close at hand to help her live her last years with dignity.”
Krey said the letter was touching, and that she enjoyed getting to know Nancy.
“I really enjoyed working with Nancy; she always made me smile,” said Krey. “I am so happy she was able to remain independent and in her own home.”