The Means Report

When Help Can't Wait: Enriching the lives of nursing home patients

Augusta, Ga. (WJBF) - Brad Means: Janet Lamke is representing When Help Can't Wait today and Janet, thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to be with us, I appreciate it.


Janet Lamke: Thank you for having me, I appreciate it too.


Brad Means: All right, so, in a nut shell, it's fair to say that When Help Can't Wait helps people in nursing homes.


Janet Lamke: Nursing homes, yes.


Brad Means: My thought was that once you made it to a nursing home, all of your needs were met. What kind of help do they need from y'all?


Janet Lamke: Well, mainly, a lot of people don't have any family or relatives and even if they do, they might be crunched on having a any funds, so what Help Can't Wait is tries to provide all kinds of things that people in the home might not be getting. Sometimes it's things for their room, a small T.V or help with equipment. Sometimes it's clothing, toiletries, puzzles to work. All kinds of things, and one of the things I've been doing is jewelry parties.


Brad Means: What's that? Where you just bring somebody in, sell jewelry to these folks?


Janet Lamke: No, no, we have all kinds of donated fashion jewelry and I go in with that jewelry and we put it on display and the ladies come in and we dress them all up in scarves and jewelry and then they get it to keep it!


Brad Means: Which nursing homes do y'all visit?


Janet Lamke: Almost all of the nursing homes in the CSRA. Mostly the things that I'm involved with are the local ones that their activity directors will call and they'll say, "We really would like to have you "come and do something for our folks."


Brad Means: It makes me sad to think about people who feel lonely in nursing homes who, as you mentioned, might not have family or their families might not have the resources they need to look after them. Do you run into that a lot? Folks who are just out there in the world by themselves?


Janet Lamke: Yes, unfortunately it's a chronic problem and most people just want a little attention, just want somebody to care for a few minutes and make a little bit of a fuss.


Brad Means: Talk about these, what a difference those items can make. You mentioned something like toiletries, if you bring somebody a goody-bag filled with deodorant and q-tips and whatnot, what kind of response do you typically get from somebody?


Janet Lamke: Well, you'd be surprised. They're so grateful, they're so grateful. And the staff at these homes are wonderful and they're grateful for the things they're given too because they can't meet all these needs.


Brad Means: What about bringing in folks from the outside? You mentioned the jewelry parties, I know that there are pageants that we've covered on Channel 6, there are opportunities for young people to come sing to these residents. Does When Help Can't Wait help out with that as well?


Janet Lamke: No, we don't. We are strictly trying to provide them with physical needs. And also, we run a little shop that people donate to that helps us provide money so that we can do Christmas baskets at Christmas time and we fill them full of all kinds of fun things for them and sweets, that are sugar free, and throws, comforters, all kinds of things like that.


Brad Means: If I'm going shopping, should I think man or woman or both? What's the population look like these days in nursing homes?


Janet Lamke: It's both, I would say a few more women than men.


Brad Means: More heavily women.


Janet Lamke: More heavily women, just because women tend to live a little bit longer. But in general, they're quite a few and when I do the jewelry parties, I try to bring baseball caps and ties and belts and socks, they love it.


Brad Means: What about when they go out of the common areas back to their own rooms? Any way that we can help them in there? I don't wanna, you know. Well, I do wanna dream too big, I guess, I mean, I picture television sets, I picture bedding--


Janet Lamke: And we have all kinds of stuff and one of our volunteers has even gone into the homes and put up pictures on the wall, a comforter on the bed, little things like that just make it feel more like a home to them instead of the end of life care.


Brad Means: In some cases do you see the families getting involved once you step in and say, "Look, I know you might not "be able to do this on your own, that's why we're here." Does that kinda liberate them to come with you, to help you, to get back involved with their loved one?


Janet Lamke: Well, I haven't had that happen to me so much but my mother spent time in a nursing home and I know what it's like to not be able to visit as frequently as you'd like to. And so I'm sure these families are most appreciative when we come in. Sometimes Brandy, our coordinator, will schedule bringing in big stuffed animals for them to cuddle with and these activities make their days more enjoyable and pass time much more better.


Brad Means: How do you find out, or determine, who gets what? Do the people at the nursing homes kind of point out the residents and describe their needs?


Janet Lamke: They have coordinators there, they have activity coordinators and special needs coordinators and they work very closely with this. They have special people designated that can come to When Help Can't Wait, go through the clothing, shoes, anything they need for their clients.


Brad Means: So is that the best bet if we have a loved one in a nursing home or if we know of someone who's not getting tended to properly, if you will? Not talking about the nursing home neglecting them, I'm talking about the needs that Janet has described. Is it best to let the nursing home come to y'all and facilitate the visits and the donations or can we come to you and say, "Help grandma my out"?


Janet Lamke: You can come to When Help Can't Wait but it's best to work through the coordinators at the nursing home.


Brad Means: All right, that's the best route?


Janet Lamke: Because they have already been granted permission to come to the charity and select all the needs they might have.


Brad Means: Talk about the visits and how frequently you see someone in a particular nursing home, is it weekly? Is it monthly?


Janet Lamke: It's not a set amount of time, for me. But, a lot of the visitors come and go with different needs, whatever has been requested by their activity director.


Brad Means: Yeah, I guess what I was getting at was, when y'all aren't there bringing in your donations, bringing in you needs, they might not have a visitor at all, isn't that accurate, probably?


Janet Lamke: That's probably true, that's probably true.


Brad Means: Yeah, so your visits are invaluable. What do you need from the community? Should we donate items? Should we give you money?


Janet Lamke: You can donate to the Classy Closet.


Brad Means: What's the Classy Closet, now?


Janet Lamke: This is their little shop where people have donated things to be sold that help provide monies to buy the things we need for the patients and the clients. And then, When Help Can't Wait, they also have a website and you can donate financially, but at Christmas time, we need things to go in those goody bags.


Brad Means: Yeah, I was gonna ask you, the next few weeks are huge for y'all.


Janet Lamke: Yeah, and jewelry, toiletries, especially deodorant, I know that sounds strange but we put deodorant in there, toothpaste, toothbrushes, all that kinds of stuff. Small items that can go in a gift bag, a small stuffed animal, a comfort throw, all of those things are so much needed. Socks, anything like that.


Brad Means: Snacks, food, is that off limits?


Janet Lamke: Snacks are okay bur preferably sugar-free candies.


Brad Means: Why do you do this? Is it because of mom? What motivated you to get so involved with these folks as they spend their golden years in a nursing home?


Janet Lamke: Well, I have had that experience through family so I know what it's like, it can be a lonely place for some people. And then when met the group here at When Help Can't Wait, I just got excited about it. And to tell you the truth, the jewelry parties are fun for me too.


Brad Means: They sound awesome.


Janet Lamke: 'Cause they just have such a good time and they just love being all dolled up and I love it too.


Brad Means: Is that really the reward for you? Is seeing their reaction? Because you need to get something out of this and I know that sounds so selfish but you give so much and When Help Can't Wait gives so much, what are your rewards?


Janet Lamke: I think when anybody does a community service of any kind, that's the reward, that's the joy in your heart is to receive the pleasure of knowing you've served someone else.


Brad Means: Well y'all serve so many people and many times behind the scenes, so thanks for that Janet, I appreciate it.


Janet Lamke: Thank you and thank you for you time.


Brad Means: Absolutely, we appreciate you being here. When Help Can't Wait is the organization, Janet Lamke, a fine representative of it. If you would like to help When Help Can't Wait go to their website as Janet said, all the information is laid out there for you to donate, you could also write down their address, should you need to correspond with them that way, and of course there is their phone number. Janet Lamke, When Help Can't Wait.

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