When White Plains resident Michele Schoenfeld thinks back to when her own husband was ill, she remembers how stressful it was to have her loved one in the hospital. Now a partner for the Caregiver Support Program at White Plains Hospital, she provides the emotional support, coping strategies and coaching techniques necessary to ease those stresses for others.
“Having been there, I know you can feel quite isolated and overwhelmed. Sometimes people just need to talk,” she said.
For a few hours a week, Schoenfeld and her fellow volunteers, who are also trained and supervised by the departments of Social Services and Volunteer Services, lend a listening ear to any family members, partners and friends at White Plains Hospital who might need it.
For example, Schoenfeld recently met a woman who was tending to her husband after a debilitating illness. She had an uncomfortable toothache but wasn’t able to get to the dentist because her husband didn’t want her to leave his side. After discussing options, the woman decided to see a dentist on a Saturday while another family member stayed with him at the hospital.
“Sometimes trying to work out an issue like that feels overwhelming when you’re taking care of yourself, your job and everything else,” she added.
The Caregiver Support Program also helps guide those in need toward valuable resources. In some instances, that means providing an introduction between families and social workers, who can direct them to the right nursing home, home care provider or rehabilitation center.
Schoenfeld might also encourage individuals to visit the Caregiver Support Center where they can have a cup of coffee, use a computer to access information, or just take a mental break.
"I always feel that someone benefited from my being there,” said Schoenfeld. "It's very gratifying.”
Schoenfeld serves as the district clerk to the White Plains City School District Board of Education.
To learn more about the Caregiver Support Program, call 1.914.681.2720.