About the SeniorAdvisor.com 2014 In-Home Innovation Scholarship: We started the scholarship program to bring awareness of the unique benefits and challenges of in-home caregiving for seniors to younger generations. The questions posed by the scholarship encouraged our nation’s future caregivers to present solutions for improving home care in the United States. College-aged students were required to answer one of the three essay topics below and provide a short bio as part of their scholarship application. Read the winning essays here.

How can your major of study improve the lives of seniors receiving in-home care services?

Essay response by Laura Kost

Too often we as humans confuse the ideas of jobs and careers. They are both the reason we awaken each morning and prepare for the day. They are the way we provide for our families and ensure financial stability. However, there is a profound difference between and job and a career.

A job is no more than a paycheck. It is a duty we perform because of the recompense we receive. A career is a passion, a lifestyle that weaves itself into the core of our being and expresses itself in the work we do each day. A career is the result of a deep-rooted desire to do what we were created to do; fulfilling a calling on our lives. Oprah Winfrey once said, “I’ve come to believe that each of us has a personal calling that’s as unique as a fingerprint – and that the best way to succeed is to discover what you love and then find a way to offer it to others in the form of service.” For me, compassionate advocacy is that calling.

Merriam Webster defines an advocate as one who supports or promotes the interests of others. An advocate is personally and professionally invested in the lives of those they strive to help. They are the quiet ones who take the time to understand the needs and desires of another; they are also the courageous ones who use their knowledge to speak on that person’s behalf. An advocate balances the physical and emotional needs of others, striving to find the best resources available for their client.  With my human services major, I can become such an advocate for vulnerable populations in society, particularly the aging.

Within the area of in-home care, my advocacy may take many forms. I can work directly with my client through an agency, providing general services and meeting practical needs. This could include personal care, companionship, supervision, transportation, meal preparation, housekeeping, or a variety of other emotional and tangible needs surrounding the activities of daily living. If a client requires more extensive or specific medical care, my role as advocate could extend to meet those needs as well. Once I clearly understand their personal wishes and practical circumstances, I can help them locate and access the appropriate resources. By standing between those who deliver these services and their recipient, I can ensure my clients’ needs are met while still respecting their wishes and maintaining their dignity. I may also advocate for my client within the home, particularly among family members. My major will equip me with fundamental skills in counseling and conflict resolution, as well as in understanding interpersonal relationships. I can use my training to facilitate communication and cooperation between and among the people involved in my client’s care. In this way, I can address the holistic health of those receiving in-home care services – emotional, physical, and relational.

With a degree in human services, I will be able to improve the lives of seniors receiving services through in-home care. I will be equipped with the skills and resources to effectively advocate for them as humans, as patients, as family members, and as a part of an aging population. I will work with them to establish a personalized care plan that fits their individual needs and desires. I can enable them to receive the services necessary to help them stay in the peace and comfort of their own home, properly cared for with dignity and respect until their death. This is my desire and my calling.

There are far too few people in America right now employed in a career, and far too many employed in a job. We have lost our passion and our drive, our desire to be fulfilled by fulfilling others. I truly believe that human services is a career for those who are willing to step outside of themselves and give of their own talents and abilities for the good of humankind. I also believe that advocating for vulnerable populations is my unique calling. It is here that I am able to offer what I love, what I am passionate about, to others through service. It is here that I will find my career, responding to the innate desire to accomplish my purpose as an advocate and a champion for human dignity.

About Laura

Laura is currently working towards a bachelor’s degree in human services from Bethel University.

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