Caring for people is just what Shirley Lee does. For decades, Shirley cared for seniors in their homes, nursing homes, and hospitals. When she moved to Virginia, she couldn’t stop caring. She became a foster parent through her local county and opened her home to children in need for five years. Then, a few years ago, Shirley and her husband Melvin took on a new adventure. They became sponsored residential providers through DePaul’s Amelia office. Shirley missed caring for seniors, and as she says, “Our house had space—why not fill it?”
After being approved as a sponsored residential home, Shirley heard about Linda. Linda lived in a nursing home at the time. She had limited verbal language and relied on a wheelchair for mobility. She required around-the-clock care.
“I wanted to bring her home because I felt like I had a lot to give Linda,” said Shirley.
Shirley believed Linda could lead a more fulfilling life in her home than Linda could in the nursing home. Once Linda’s brother embraced the idea, Linda came home to the Lee house.
“She was very bitter and agitated when she first came here. The first six months she had to get used to us and learn to trust us,” said Shirley.
Once Linda learned to trust and understand her new home, she thrived. These days, Linda loves watching television, especially Family Feud and old westerns. She goes to a day support program where she spends time with friends. She looks forward to visits from her brother and his wife. She loves when the Lees’ extended family stops by. She even says, “I love you.” It’s beautiful to see. It isn’t always easy.
Shirley provides personal care to Linda three times each night, ensuring she is moving every couple of hours, washing her face, and sitting her up in bed. She feeds her and gives her all of her medicine. Linda relies on Shirley to be her voice, to know what she needs and wants. Some days are more challenging than others, but Shirley is motivated and determined to give Linda the life she deserves.
“All Linda wants out of life is to be happy and treated with respect,” said Shirley.
Since welcoming Linda home, Shirley has worked to give her the best care she can, with the help of DePaul. She says DePaul has been a much-needed support system, especially in those first few months.
“I want the best for her and as long as I have her with me, I’m going to give her the best I’ve got,” said Shirley.
Looking into Linda’s eyes today, you can clearly see that the Lees are giving her a full life—a life with hope.