The Sifrit family has always been a music loving family. When Ken was diagnosed with Alzheimers/dementia, wife Shirley, saw her once fun loving husband slowly decline as the disease continued to progress. The happy, singing version of Ken was a distant memory for Shirley until Andrea Owens came into their lives.
Graduating from Western Illinois University in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in music, Andrea also completed a 6 month clinical internship and board certification to become a board certified music therapist. Music therapy by definition is the clinical, research and evidence based use of music to achieve non-musical goals. Andrea uses her extensive knowledge in music therapy to provide therapeutics services to the patients and families in hospice care. Starting the program from the ground up, Andrea now serves over 50 patients per month, including Ken Sifrit.
“Music uses the entire brain which is why it is different from anything else,” Andrea explained, “This makes it especially useful in patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia because they are able to remember songs when they may not be able to remember anything else.”
“It is truly remarkable what Andrea is able to do with Ken,” Shirley explained through teary eyes. “We never really see him smile anymore and he doesn’t really speak. When Andrea is here, we see something in him that we never get the pleasure of seeing anymore. He picks his head up, he looks at her, and he sings all the words to the country western songs she plays. It’s a happy time for all of us and we wouldn’t have that without her.”
The Fajman family cannot say enough about the care that their mother, Alice received while on service with HKV. They were very pleased with her care as a whole and especially thankful for the care she received from Licensed Massage Therapist, Jennifer Marcotte.
Earning her License in Massage Therapy in 2007 from the American Bodywork Institute in Bradley, Jen also has continuing education credits in lymphedema, fibromyalgia, sciatica and acupressure. Starting at HKV in 2015, Jen would typically see 2-3 patients per week. Since then, she has grown her caseload significantly, providing over 90 therapeutic massage treatments per month.
“There was something about the touch that really helped mom relax,” explained Tranita Fajman, “We all looked forward to Jen’s visit because we knew mom really enjoyed it… and all of us really enjoyed her being there.”
Jen combines many different methods of touch to achieve the best possible outcome for the patients. “I’m a firm believer in the therapeutic effects of touch and I see it work every day in my patients,” she explained.
While massage is her profession, hospice care is her passion. “This is definitely where I wanted this career path to take me,” she explained, “I love being able to help ease my patients pain whether it be physical or emotional, but the best part is definitely being able to talk to them and hear their stories.”
Tails of Joy is a program used to provide psychological, emotional, and physiological support to hospice patients and their families. HKV recognizes the benefits of integrating traditional medicine with complementary medicine as a supportive service. We currently have 12 teams of specially trained dogs and their handlers available for visits. Each dog and handler has gone through a therapy dog certification program to make sure they are up for the job. One of those very special teams are Jillian and her black Shih tzu/yorkie mix Vinny.
For Jillian, she feels there is one family that stands out from the rest that she’s volunteered with during her time at HKV and that is the Guimond family from Kankakee Mrs. Guimond is a patient in HKV care and she lives at home with her husband Richard.
Upon their initial visit, Richard explained about a black poodle that they had named Mia. Mia originally started out as their son’s dog and when he enlisted in the military, Mia came to live with them. She quickly became a huge part of their family, even traveling with the couple across the country in their RV. The Guimond’s had seven wonderful years with Mia before she became ill and had to be put down. The loss devastated the couple and they decided then to not replace their cherished pet. When the offer was suggested to introduce a pet companion, they jumped at the chance.
“When I arrived the first day, Richard met me at the door, took Vinny out of my arms and left me standing on the porch,” Jillian remarked with a laugh, “I could tell immediately who the favorite was.”
While the relationship between Vinny and Mrs. Guimond didn’t immediately blossom, caretaker Richard, definitely always looked forward to his visit. “He just comes up on my lap and I rub him to sleep,” he explained. “He’s such a good boy.”
When asked what the most rewarding part of her volunteer position at HKV, Jillian explained, “I just love being able to bring these families so much joy. They are going through a very rough time in their lives and there is never a time when I walk through the door that Vinny doesn’t put a smile on their faces. Whether it’s a patient or family member, they all love him and those smiles are the best part.”
"Comfort to us encompasses many roads. We find that Hospice of Kankakee Valley serves as a comfort to residents, families, friends and our own staff. We find peace and comfort in knowing that we can share our own feelings, accomplishments and fears with hospice and they know the right things to say and do to help us help while caring for the resident."
- Bryan Harris - Heritage Health in Dwight
"We brought my granny home with hospice last Monday, after she had a stroke in her home. I could NEVER of taken such great care of my granny without the help of Hospice. I truly want to THANK each and every one for the care, compassion, and help that we received while living my granny’s final wishes. My granny, (LKM), met heaven’s gate, the happiest women in the world. She left in my arms, in her own home, on her own terms. Just the way she wanted. THANK YOU!"
The care and compassion that Hospice of Kankakee Valley gave to my grandpa and my family was something that I will remember for the rest of my life.
As a volunteer, I am so grateful that I also get to give back to my community with the same care and compassion that was shown to my grandpa.
I carry the memory of him with me as I continue to be with those who are in the end of life transition and provide them with the same dignity and warmth that was given to my grandpa and my family.
- Alyssa Capriotti - volunteer at HKV
"Such wonderful caring people. They helped our family get through the most difficult time of our lives last spring. They took excellent care of both mom and sister and helped me make some difficult decisions. They were there day or night any time you needed them."
“DIGNITY IS WHAT HOSPICE MEANS TO ME.
‘Dignity is a sense of pride in oneself, self-respect, or worthy of respect.’Every person should be able to go through the end of life journey with dignity, and hospice provides each individual with just that.
The staff of Hospice of Kankakee Valley assists with providing that dignity to the person, their families, and those who care for them whether physical, mental or spiritual. Hospice helps ease the transition. Everyone deserves dignity in the death and dying process.”
- Darla Savoie
"I can’t say enough good things about Hospice of Kankakee Valley. This great group of people helped our family when my Dad came home for his last days. That was all he wanted, to be home, and they helped it happen. Physically, emotionally and spiritually they were there for us. They’re all very special people. Thanks for helping us."
"In June of 2013, JJ began having seizure like activity. With extensive testing he was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder . When the treatment for the blood disorder became too debilitating for him, he and his family decided to pursue hospice care.
The hospice services in coordination with Good Shepherd Manor enabled JJ to remain in his home and receive care that promoted a quality of life and him being surrounded by people he cared about and who cared about him.
JJ’s story is an extraordinary success story. JJ rallied physically and was eventually able to be discharged from hospice care.
He continues to be closely monitored by his staff and physicians for any regression. With the involvement of hospice, JJ’s discomfort was kept to a minimum and his mental and physical needs were readily addressed.
Without hospice services during that time, JJ would have had to go to another type of facility to receive this type of service. Hospice services for JJ, his family, and his staff, were truly a 'PEACE OF MIND'!"
- Janis Land, “JJ” Dudenhoefer, & Brother Alphonsus Brown - Good Shepherd Manor