Charlene Inch was a family caregiver for many years out of necessity. But these days she’s finding fulfillment by opening her home for others who need care.
Inch provides live-in care for three women at her Groveland home, through the Adult Family Care (AFC) program. She started 11 years ago, after her husband died, both for companionship and to help others.
“I’ve been a caregiver my whole life and I love it,” said Inch. “It makes me feel good to know these ladies are taken care of and happy.”
AFC helps MassHealth-eligible people who can’t live alone receive care in a home setting, by providing compensation, training and paid respite for caregivers. The program usually assists family caregivers, but in some cases- like Inch’s- it matches qualified caregivers with people who need daily assistance.
A retired hospital clerk and school department employee, Inch learned the art of caregiving while helping her sister, who was a juvenile diabetic, and later her parents and husband.
“My whole thing is to keep family at home and take care of them for as long as possible,” she said. “Family means a lot to me, and I don’t like being alone.”
It was a family connection that led Inch to AFC.
“My sister was caring for two women through the program, and I asked her social worker if she knew anybody looking for a home,” said Inch. “She said, ‘I think I’ve got just the person, and that was Patty.”
Patty, now 79, moved in with Inch 11 years ago and Celeste, now 64, joined them shortly after. And Patty’s sister Anna, 69, moved in this summer. Inch assists them with a variety of daily living tasks, but they also make time for a daily ride together, even if it’s just to get coffee.
Inch said it’s been a very good experience, much like having a new extended family.
“I think of myself as a caregiver, but it’s different in our home, because it’s their home too,” said Inch. “I like it when they call it their home. That means a lot to me.”
Adult Family Care is a non-profit program at Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services that supports in-home caregivers across the Greater Boston, North Shore, and Merrimack Valley areas. For more information, visit adultfamilycare.org or call 617-628-2601.