With a degree in psychology and a Masters degree in gerontology, Katie Tipton began her career in nursing homes. It pushed me to realize that I didn't want to be in those places any more than the people who lived there, she said. Katie then moved into non-medical home care. I provided support and visited people in their homes and that was so special to me. After a heartbreaking layoff, Katie was hired in 2004 as a sales and marketing associate at Kendal at Home. As membership continued to grow, more help was needed and she quickly became a full-time care coordinator. This position felt like the right fit for me because of my schooling; however the real experience and authentic learning has come from being around the people.
Why did you choose to study gerontology?
Katie Tipton: As an undergraduate, I lived below an 83 year-old woman. Her name was Sophie. She often made statements such as, It took me two hours to get out of the bathtub again, Katie. Sophies struggles pushed me into gerontology inspiring me to want to help care for older adults. I wondered, Would it be possible for people to stay in their homes with some support? Kendal at Home was proved we can do this. We keep people where they most want to be.
What is your favorite part of being a care coordinator?
KT: It reflects my desire to nurture the world. I like to feel that I am being instrumental in helping members to age successfully. I like the relationships I have with people. From them, I learn more about aging every day. Members talk to me about what they have learned from life; they have done a lot of good things for other people and their communities. When someone I know and respect tells me something, it hits home differently. They teach me about marriage and parenthood and what success really is.
What is the biggest challenge of being a care coordinator?
KT: Watching people decline is the hardest part, but it is an opportunity to show that I care.
What is one of the advantages of working at Kendal at Home versus another program?
KT: Here I meet members prior to need, so I really get to know them first. I get to see their activities and level of functioning while they are independent. We do an annual assessment with members to understand their health and abilities. So, in a couple of years, I may notice they might not be walking as well anymore. My degree in gerontology (the science of aging) adds another dimension to the care our members receive.
What are you most proud of?
KT: Not a single one of our members has had to go to a nursing home because we couldn't take care of them at home. On a personal level, there is a lot of juggling that I do in my life. But when I put all the pieces together at the end of the day, I have something to be proud of.
What are you looking forward to?
KT: I look forward to meeting the challenges that arise every day with the members. To be able to provide what we promised to keep members at home is important to me. It is nice to actually show them that what they invested in is very real and worthwhile. We are anything they need us to be.
What do you do with your time off?
KT: I am married and have three children. They consume all of my down time. I flip from older adults during the day to young children on nights and weekends; there is never a dull moment. That doesn't last forever (as I am told regularly by Members) and I do my best to enjoy every moment. My children are currently 7, 5 and 9 months. I am shaping their world right now.
What should people know about Kendal at Home?
KT: We truly do everything we can do to keep members at home and carry out their wishes. Some learn right away how we help; for others it takes a little longer. We are here 24/7. Our goal is your goal. We want to keep you in your home, as independent as possible, if that is where you want to be.
Get some of the care coordination team's best advice by downloading our free guide, 11 Ways to Age Successfully at Home.