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Direct Support Professionals Recognition Week

September 13-19, 2020, is Direct Support Professionals Recognition Week! It’s a time to celebrate and acknowledge Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) who assist, support, and care for individuals who require help in their daily lives. 

proclamation was issued by Governor Wolf to recognize and appreciate the dedication and contributions DSPs make in the lives of the elderly, veterans, and those with intellectual, developmental, or other disabilities.

Mark Davis, President and CEO of PAR (Pennsylvania Advocacy and Resources for Autism and Intellectual Disability) states, “This year’s proclamation is particularly important as DSPs have made sacrifices during the COVID-19 pandemic to keep the individuals they support healthy, happy, and safe.” Davis continued, Some DSPs have lost their lives or lost loved ones during the pandemic. DSPs have stepped up to the plate in a major way in Pennsylvania and we thank Governor Wolf for taking this step to honor them.”

Our work wouldn’t be possible without the tremendous support of our Direct Support Professionals. We are very grateful to have them as part of the Casmir Care Services family!

Casmir Caregiver Shines During COVID-19 Pandemic (Part 2)

 

“The thing I worried about most was when the individuals would have to visit their families,” she said. 

Once Philadelphia started opening up, the individuals could visit their families for brief periods. Daisy considered this a challenge because she was concerned that they would not adhere to the cleaning routines that she had incorporated into most of the activities she had prepared for them.

Daisy did their laundry twice a day, took their temperatures, and ensured they had their masks on when it was time to go outdoors. She taught them handwashing games, and they spent a lot of time at the kitchen sink washing dishes even though they were already clean.  She did all this to reinforce their habits and show them how important it was to clean certain things thoroughly to guard against the virus.

After their time at home, Daisy and the staff had to reinstate what they had taught the individuals.  Daisy hoped that while they were away, they were adhering to what she had taught them.  “So when they came back, we had to pay extra attention to sniffles or runny eyes and noses, and we had to keep them partially separated if they had roommates,” she stated. For Casmir caregivers, it has been a matter of staying vigilant. Thankfully, there have been no relapses, and no one has become sick again. All the individuals are doing well.

Daisy openly shares her experience with COVID-19 because she wants to give a clear picture of how this disease affects both individuals and medical professionals. While in the hospital, Daisy felt that the diagnostic process started slowly. “The nurses and doctors would constantly ask me, ‘Do you have symptoms?’ and I would look at them with a blank stare sometimes because I had already said that I could barely walk and that I had difficulty breathing,” she explained.  However, Daisy quickly realized that she needed to keep her composure because the situation was also new to them. The doctors and nurses were dealing with the virus on a day-to-day basis, just like Casmir Care was.  They were learning something new almost daily, as was the rest of the world.  Their repeated questions about her symptoms allowed medical professionals to update the information that they already had about COVID-19. “I can attest that it [COVID-19] is bad,” she stressed.

“While I was on the medication they had prescribed me, I would go to the doctor every week for check-ups.  Almost every time my medication would have to be changed or adjusted because my pre-existing thyroid condition was an issue,” she said.  

Another reason to consider Daisy a hero is because of the way she pushed through without being able to see her family. She was also alone while recovering. “My children all live in Virginia, and I haven’t seen them since the lockdown,” she revealed. Being away from her daughters and grandchildren would sometimes take a toll on her, but taking care of her individuals at Casmir Care makes her feel less lonely. “I go to work a lot because I don’t want to be home alone and think of how badly I want to see my grandchildren,” she said.  Daisy’s 8-year-old grandson’s TikTok videos put a smile on her face when she comes home from work. She says it’s all she will watch. It brings tears to her eyes when he mentions her name in those videos.

As tough as it has been to be away from her family, Daisy is doing what she loves as a caregiver with Casmir Care Services. “I am truly happy with what I am doing,” she exclaims. “The management, the employees, and the individuals have always welcomed me with open arms.”

Daisy may not see an individual because she is working at a different house. “The individuals make me feel special. I might not see some of them for a while,” she says. “But when that individual sees me, they still know who I am, and that is the best feeling! It’s like you’ve grown inside of them, and they’ve grown inside of you. Their smiles make you want to be at work all the time!”

Steps You Can Take to Avoid Catching the New Coronavirus

You may have heard that a new virus is spreading around the world. Coronavirus Disease 2019 (aka COVID-19) has infected more than 105,000 people around the world. Most (80,000+) are in China, where the disease first turned up. More than 3,500 people globally have died of the virus. As of Monday, March 9, 545 people have been treated for coronavirus in the United States. But the possible public health threat posed by COVID-19 is very high both globally and here in the U.S., according to the World Health Organization. And from day to day, the numbers keep changing.

The good news is that 4 in 5 cases (or more than 80 percent) are not severe cases, according to a large Chinese study. That means some people experience what feels like a mild cold and then it goes away. Or a small sore throat. And two days later they feel fine. Cases defined as mild did not involve pneumonia, an infection of the lungs, or only mild pneumonia.

The bad news is that mild symptoms can make it harder to control the spread of a potential epidemic. And you should know that those who are older or with underlying health conditions face a higher risk of more severe symptoms.

This new COVID-19 virus is a bit of a mystery.  We do not know everything about it yet. We don’t have a vaccine yet. It’s possible that it may spread from people who haven’t shown symptoms yet and therefore don’t even know they have it. While there have been such reports, it’s not considered the main way the virus spreads.

We want all of our caregivers, families, and individuals to know that you can take precautions to avoid getting sick. While not everything is known about this new coronavirus, the better educated you are on what’s known will help protect you and loved ones in our community.

 

Q: What are symptoms of this new virus?

A: Symptoms can include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Among confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 cases, those with reported illnesses have experienced everything from mild symptoms to severe illness and death.

Q: How can I avoid catching this virus?

A: The most important thing you can do is wash your hands often, preferably with soap and water, rubbing all surfaces of the hands for 20 seconds (imagine singing “Happy Birthday” 3 times fast).  

Q: How should I prepare for a possible outbreak?

A: Keep a 30-day supply of essential medicines. Get a flu shot. Keep essential household items in stock. Have a support system in place for older family members. 

Q: How quickly do the symptoms appear?

A: The CDC believes that symptoms may appear in as little as 2 days or take as long as 14 days after exposure to show up.

Q: How does the virus spread?

A: The virus is thought to spread mostly from person-to-person. It can spread between people who are in close contact, or within 6 feet of each other. It spreads via droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

Q: Can I catch it from touching certain contaminated surfaces or objects?

A: It may be possible to get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that the virus landed on and then touching your own mouth, nose, or maybe even your eyes. But this is not considered the main way the virus spreads.

Q: When does the virus spread?

A: People are thought to be the most contagious when their symptoms are the worst (and they’re feeling the sickest).

Q: How do you know if you’ve got COVID-19?

A: You would know if you had COVID-19, if you tested positive for the virus. The test involves taking nasal and mouth swabs.

Q: What should you do if you are sick with COVID-19 or suspect you are infected with the virus that causes it?

A: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend the following if you are sick or think you are infected with COVID-19:

  • Stay home except to get medical care.
  • Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home
  • Call ahead before visiting your doctor.
  • Wear a facemask when you are sharing a room or vehicle with other people or pets.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue. Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains between 60 percent to 95 percent alcohol, covering all surfaces of your hands and rubbing them together until they are dry. If hands are visibly dirty, soap and water are better.
  • Avoid sharing personal household items like dishes, cups, forks, towels, or bedding with others in your home.
  • Wash your hands often for at least 20 seconds.
  • Family and caregivers should clean all “high-touch” surfaces every day. These include tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables. Clean any surfaces that get bodily fluids or stool on them. Use a household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Monitor the sick person’s symptoms. Seek prompt medical attention if the illness is getting worse. For example, an individual might experience difficulty breathing.

Stay safe and take care!

Learn more:

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention on COVID-19

Most Coronavirus Cases Are Mild. That’s Good and Bad News.
Video: 20 Seconds of Handwashing Could Save Your Life

Video: How to Disinfect Your Home

Working for Casmir Care Services as a Family Caregiver

 

Most people who work as family caregivers work for free. It’s a way to ensure a loved one gets attentive and sympathetic care. And you don’t have to worry about whether your family member will get along with and be safe in the care of a stranger. But it comes at a price. Time spent caring for a family member for free often equals time away from a paid job.

But family caregiving doesn’t have to be a financial drain. Here at Casmir Care Services, family caregivers are paid staff. 

As November is National Family Caregiver Month, I took a moment to talk with Chinyere Dunkley, our Director of Human Resources, about what we look for and how you can become a paid family caregiver through Casmir Care Services right here in Philadelphia. Here’s what she told me.

One of our most common openings is for Direct Support Professionals. We offer competitive wages and health benefits to select applicants who are family members of adults with an intellectual or mental health disability. The work involves providing daily living support to individuals in Philadelphia. The work can be full-time or part-time. Shift work is required, and you must have reliable means of transportation.

 

What family caregivers do

Our family caregivers have jobs that always offer a mix of tasks. Common services our family caregivers provide include:

  • Buying groceries/teaching how to make purchases at the store
  • Cooking/monitoring with cooking in the kitchen using appliances
  • Cleaning the house
  • Doing laundry
  • Teaching money management 
  • Teaching travel safety
  • Teaching socialization (like how to make eye contact when having a conversation)
  • Teaching personal hygiene
  • Getting the individual dressed for the day/teaching how to dress and choose weather appropriate dressing
  • Teaching personal information
  • Assisting with showers 
  • Meal preparation
  • Supporting with community activities and locating useful local resources
  • Helping transfer the individual in and out of bed
  • Making medical appointments
  • Talking with doctors, care managers, and others to better understand the individual’s needs and what, if anything, could be improved  

 

What Casmir seeks in its family caregivers

Successful family caregivers at Casmir share certain qualities, skills, and abilities in common. Those who do best tend to be people who are patient, flexible, compassionate, innovative, honest, and empathetic. It helps to have good communication skills so that you can advocate for those you care for effectively. A positive mindset also helps. We are always on the lookout for people who are encouraging and supportive. 

And if you have good problem-solving skills, you’ll likely do well here. Most importantly, we look for people who are passionate about our company mission (as stated on our website) and are willing to learn and grow with us.

 

The application process

The whole process from the moment you start your application for a job at Casmir to starting a job can be as short as one week. First, you’ll have to fill out our application. If you qualify, we may proceed to an interview. If you’re qualified, you can then get paid training before beginning work at one of our locations. Note: Before Casmir hires you, you first have to undergo a criminal history check, a child abuse clearance, and a physical/TB test.

 

Training

Each caregiver undergoes two days of intensive paid training that focuses on how we provide services and what goes into making sure individuals in our care stay healthy and safe. Training covers not only our policies and procedures, but also how to deal with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Some of the health and safety-related training includes learning how to respond if the individual experiences a seizure. First aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (which involves chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth breathing) are also important parts of our training.

As a Casmir family caregiver, you can expect to get further training either in-person or online. And when you run into a problem or are stumped by a situation, help is never far away. We encourage you to turn to your supervisors and Human Resources to get help with resolving problems.

Of course, not all our staff are family caregivers. Sometimes a family reaches out to Casmir for a caregiver. But no one in the family is in a position to step up and fill the job. When that’s the case, Casmir can provide a caregiver immediately.

 

Grow with our company

We pride ourselves on the fact that our staff can grow with the company. One way is to be promoted from Direct Support Professional to Site Supervisor. Of course, the people who earn this type of promotion demonstrate great human relations skills, creative problem-solving, and compassion in their day-to-day work.

If you’re interested in applying for a family caregiving or a non-family caregiving position with Casmir, do reach out to us. You can apply online, email us HR@Casmircares.com to inquire about employment with us, or come to one of our employment open houses. We are hiring! Find us on Facebook or Instagram for details about the next one. We are always looking to grow our work family of caregivers.

 

Practical Tips to Reduce the Effects of Stress

 
Have you been feeling stressed because of the disruption in routine, schedule, and environment that the Coronavirus pandemic has caused?
Stress can be harmful to your health, but there are ways to manage it. Here are some practical tips to reduce the effects of stress:
 
Be aware.
Recognize the signs of stress on your body: difficulty sleeping, irritability, feeling depressed, and having low energy.
 
Exercise regularly.
Regular activity releases endorphins, can improve concentration, and enhance sleep, which can often be negatively affected by stress.
 
Stop and smell the flowers.
Scientists have discovered that inhaling certain fragrances can reduce stress levels.
 
Take a deep breath.
Deep breathing is one of the best ways to lower stress in the body. When you breathe deeply, it sends a message to your brain to calm down and relax.
 
Stay connected.
You are not alone. Keep in touch with people who can provide emotional support and practical help.

Casmir Caregiver Shines During COVID-19 Pandemic (Part 1)

 

For over nine years, Daisy Williams has been a valued Casmir Care Services caregiver.  Although she has had several challenges as a caregiver throughout the years, the COVID-19 pandemic presented a few more. But Daisy passed with flying colors.

Daisy is a Direct Support Professional at Casmir Care.  She tends to the intellectually disabled individuals. During Philadelphia’s lockdown, she was on the frontline caring for the individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 and were symptomatic.  Because of the pandemic, Daisy and the staff had to work very long hours. Casmir was understaffed and was struggling with hiring at that time.

“I’m doing well now,” she stated. “In the beginning, it was quite a struggle, but it’s become a lot easier now.”

Being short on staff and having to care for her individuals under a nationwide lockdown wasn’t something Daisy expected. To make it less challenging for all the individuals, she looked for creative ways to keep everyone engaged.  Some of the individuals she cared for enjoyed being outside and interacting with people, while some of them preferred staying indoors with less interaction.   For the individuals who liked to go out, Daisy brought in pots with dirt to simulate being outdoors.  There were puzzles, games, and other activities for those who preferred being indoors.  Some activities turned out to be less than ideal, however.  For instance, painting became an art form in itself as some individuals thought the paint was edible and tried to eat it because of the pretty colors.

“I was on the forefront with individuals when they fell ill to COVID because I am the one who monitors or lets newer staff shadow me so they can learn how to care for the individuals,” she explained. “I would be there to make sure they knew how to calm the individuals if they were agitated or about to go into difficult behavior.” So when some individuals tested positive for COVID and became symptomatic, Daisy expected their behaviors to get worse. However, that was not the case.

“The symptoms didn’t affect their behavior,” she explained. “They became lethargic and slept most of the time. However, once they came out of it, they couldn’t understand what they had been through.”  The staff was able to tell that they were returning to normal because their behaviors began to intensify.

When told that Casmir considered her a COVID-19 hero, Daisy quickly demurred.  She didn’t feel as though she deserved it. “I feel the heroes were the ones who took amazing care of me when I fell ill,” she said.  

By falling ill, she meant that she too had contracted COVID-19 in May. Because she had a pre-existing condition and was hands-on with very sick individuals who had the virus, it was only a matter of time before she became infected. After spending four days in the hospital, and self-isolating for fourteen more, Daisy could return to work.  Since then, Daisy has tested negative for the virus, but she still stays vigilant about her health and keeps a close eye on her individuals.

“I recuperated quickly. I came out of the hospital and had to quarantine for fourteen more days,” she said.  “I kept a list of all the symptoms and changes that my body went through, so I would be capable of knowing whether I would need to go into quarantine again should the symptoms reappear.”

Keeping the list helped Daisy to know if the individuals were exhibiting any COVID symptoms or if they were in danger of relapsing. “I can differentiate between what sounds like COVID-breath or if they are out of breath because of overexertion,” she said. If they have any of the symptoms, she will have them tested, and if they are positive, she will quarantine them as quickly as possible, before they can infect the other individuals.

With the knowledge she possesses as an experienced Casmir Caregiver and as someone who has beat COVID-19, Daisy has become someone whom the rest of the staff can go to with confidence and ask for her advice.

However, knowing what symptoms to look for in her individuals didn’t make Daisy any less nervous…

Heartfelt Greetings for Someone Special

 

Many people tend to think that Valentine’s Day is relevant only for the red rose and candlelit dinner crowd. But it’s not just about cupids, flowers, and chocolates. This holiday isn’t just for people in romantic relationships. 

Valentine’s Day can be far more inclusive than that. And it can still be quite meaningful even if you take a simpler approach to the day.

Whether you are someone who cares for individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities or you are someone who receives care, Valentine’s Day can be a good time to show the most important people in your life that you care for them. Show that you appreciate what they bring to your world or how they make your life better by just being there for you. Perhaps that person’s presence in your life—whether as caregiver or individual with a developmental disability—makes your life more meaningful.

Showing you care for people doesn’t have to be romantic. But it can involve a high degree of emotional openness. Yet, many of us aren’t used to telling people what they mean to us. We may feel squeamish talking about feelings. But it doesn’t have to feel that way. 

This year, consider giving a Valentine’s Day card to those who are important in your life. Whether you hand deliver the card or use snail mail, it will stand out in this age of texting and email. If you can’t think of what to write, you can get ideas from Mr. Rogers, who wasn’t afraid to say what he felt.

 

Being and feeling special

Americans don’t talk much about feelings. We may get uncomfortable venturing into the realm of emotions. But talking about feelings is important talk. “Knowing that our feelings are natural and normal for all of us can make it easier for us to share them with one another,” wrote the TV host, musician, creator, producer, and minister, Fred Rogers, in his book, “The World According to Mister Rogers.” He was known for saying, “I like you just the way you are.”

This is a radical message. How often does someone say something like this to you? When we’re growing up, often the message from parents and other family members is that we are somehow not enough. But don’t blame them. They are just impatient for us to learn things and grow up.

 

Whose presence do we take for granted?

You may draw some inspiration from the teachings of Mr. Rogers in this song he sang, “It’s You I Like.” And here’s an exercise adapted from Mr. Rogers that may help you access the deep well of appreciation you have for those who have cared for you in all sorts of ways. Ask yourself:

  1. Who in your life has helped you grow? Who has helped you love the good that grows within you?
  2. Let’s just take 10 seconds to think of those people who have loved us and wanted what is best for us in life. This would be those who have encouraged us to become who we are in life.
  3. No matter where they are, whether here or in heaven, imagine how pleased those people must be to know that you thought of them right now.

Cherishing the people in your life and letting them know what you feel can be a powerful way to show that feelings can be mentioned and managed. It can be a powerful mental and emotional exercise.

 

Ways to say, “I you”

In a letter responding to a Valentine’s Day card, Mr. Rogers noted that there are many ways of saying, “I love you.” Here are some things you can tell those important people in your life.

  • I thank you for all the good that you do.
  • I appreciate when you [insert action   ]
  • I like you just for being you.
  • Thank you for always being there for me.

At the end of every episode of his TV show, “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” Mr. Rogers reminded his viewers of what they meant to him. “You’ve made this day a special day by just your being you,” he would say. “There’s no person in the whole world like you, and I like you just the way you are.”

And here’s wishing all of our staff, caregivers, and the individuals we serve a wonderful Valentine’s Day. You always make each day a special day, by just your being you!

Prepare Before An Emergency Occurs

As the caregiver of an adult with intellectual or developmental disabilities, you may face extra obstacles that make reacting to emergencies a challenge. It’s crucial to plan for your regular needs and know what you would do if they become limited or unavailable. 

You can maximize your peace of mind if you have a plan in place. Visit these websites for more information about how to prepare before an emergency occurs.

Ready.Gov
PA Emergency Preparedness Guide
Disaster Preparedness for Peoples with Disabilities  

A New Way of Seeing a Family Member with IDD

When parents or families helped a family member with IDD connect to larger social networks beyond the family, some were surprised to discover that others were open to being asked for support. When one son wanted to know his father’s friends, the dad asked his friends and was surprised by the positive responses. One friend said he was “humbled and honored” that the father had asked him to support his son. 

When asked, another potential friend of an individual with IDD said that she would love to spend time with her. Often parents do not realize that their child could have friends in their lives that are neither family members nor peers with disabilities. Or they may not realize what gifts their family member has to share with the world.

It’s not their fault. It’s quite possible that family members spend so much time trying to find services that meet an individual with IDD where he or she is that they tend to focus on gaps that need filling. As a result, they never realize that someone they see as operating at a disadvantage may actually have something special to offer the world.

It may be something as simple, but rare these days, as a sense of exuberance, joy, or wonder. Perhaps it’s a strong sense of responsibility. Or an interest in teaching others about a favorite topic. An insatiable curiosity. Or a funny fresh way of looking at the world.

 All too often, individuals with developmental disabilities are kept separate from the rest of society. In the old days, they were kept in institutions. These days, although we know that social connections can benefit all people and we encourage people to expand beyond their comfort zones, it can be hard to get individuals with disabilities involved with broader social circles or communities.

 Getting involved with other people can mean more than just physically sharing space with others. It’s about connecting with others. And it can involve how we play and  share our interests. Relationship building is an important building block. We know that when people with IDD participate in faith communities, sports, their neighborhoods, and community organizations, they can increase their quality of life and sense of well-being.

Obstacles

If you work with or have IDD family members, you know that it can be hard to cultivate a social life with people outside the family or disabled community. Part of the problem is that disabled individuals usually have social networks that consist of family, support staff, or other persons with disabilities. And while people generally agree that individuals with intellectual disabilities should be included in society, they may resist interacting with them, because they are unsure of how to behave or find it uncomfortable. Plus, as family members or outside caregivers, we may be reluctant to place outsiders into situations where we think they may be uneasy.

But maybe, as the stories in the beginning suggest, reality is a kinder, gentler place than we may imagine. Maybe we should be careful not to let our fears shape our perceptions and dictate our actions—especially if that limits the size of our IDD family members’ social circles.

Another obstacle may involve transportation. Just getting to activities so that one can participate can be a barrier. So that must be worked out.  

Recipes for social inclusion

If you want to help someone widen their social web, consider a few of the following ingredients:

Being accepted as an individual beyond the disability helps a person develop a stronger sense of self worth. Consider groups where the individual with IDD might fit right in. Maybe he loves classic cars or monster trucks. Or maybe she would like to join a knitters group or a yoga class.

Having significant and reciprocal personal relationships matters. This could be as simple as creating a relationship where your disabled son spends an hour each week helping an elderly neighbor with gardening or just sitting together chatting.

Being involved in activities makes it a lot easier to expand a person’s social circle. Invite people to meet your disabled family members. Or reach out to groups that organize events the IDD member may be interested in. You can tell them, “Remember us when you organize an event. We can help out. And we want to have fun, too.” They should see your family member as a resource, someone who can help them out. 

So how do you expand someone’s sense of community or belonging? 

You could brainstorm community groups, people, or relationships that could be developed. Connecting with people who share similar interests means folks will be naturally drawn together. They already have something in common that creates a social glue.

After brainstorming ideas, have your family member chose their three favorite ideas to pursue. Then list a few steps you’ll need to take to get the member involved in the group

This kind of approach has helped individuals with IDD get jobs, socialize more with neighbors, and get far more involved in church or social civic activities.

Here are some of the ways people with IDD expanded their social circles:

  • A married couple gave an individual a ride to their church twice a month
  • Several individuals reconnected with old friends from school
  • An individual got to know a man at church better after saying he wanted to meet him and working out with his parents to invite him to lunch after church.
  • An individual joined a weekly cribbage group
  • An individual joined a university women’s basketball team fan club
  • An individual enjoyed a weekly trivia contest at a restaurant/bar
  • An individual volunteered at a children’s museum
  • An individual performed in a theater production
  • An individual volunteered with an animal rescue group

Clearly, there are many people, groups, and venues that would not only welcome the help of individuals with developmental disabilities, they would benefit from their efforts. In many cases, such individuals can contribute to the greater good and enjoy the benefits of interacting with other community members.

 

Improving Care Services for ID/D is Her Mission

 

Faith guides Chetachi Dunkley’s approach to advocacy

As we pause to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, his message of inclusion, equality, and love for all reminds me of many of the ideas that led to the creation of Casmir Care Services, which aims to improve the quality of life for people with developmental disabilities through care, comfort, and compassion.  

 Long before Chetachi Dunkley founded this agency in 2008, she worked as a dialysis technician and saw social workers dealing with clients with kidney disease. She would ask questions. And she had a lot of empathy for those who were receiving dialysis treatment. Along the way, she learned that some of the people who were getting dialysis did not have anyone at home to take care of them.

When she went back to school, she studied social work. After graduation, she worked as a support coordinator, essentially doing the work of a social worker. In that position, she dealt with individuals with disabilities. “And I saw myself in all of them,” she said. “I saw my children in all of them.” 

What did they all have in common? Just like the rest of us, she explained, they are all God’s creation. Regardless of their conditions, they are all individually blessed, she said. “Each of my individuals, they’re unique,” she said. “They’re special, and I don’t see any reason why people will look down on them. How can you look down on anyone with a disability?”

Growing up in Nigeria, she noticed that people called those with any kind of disability names. But even back then, Chetachi did not understand why they were treated differently. And each time she met anyone with a disability out in public, she would always give them something, usually food or water. Later as a support coordinator, she felt a similar call to give to the world.

Anyone with any kind of disability is special, said Chetachi. She sees autistic individuals as special, for instance. “So it was in my heart to serve them, because I believed that they needed something better,” she said. “They needed someone to advocate for them.”

As a support coordinator, her advocacy involved making sure they got the appropriate waivers and the appropriate services from the state. She ensured that any caregiving agency was actually providing the services detailed in its plans. She went out of her way to make sure that her individuals were taken good care of, because all of them were so special to her, she said.

 

Founding Casmir on love and empathy

The way she saw it, God created all of them. All of us are equal. And none of us should lack love, she said. And none of us should lack services. None should be treated as if we’re different. As human beings, all are children of God, said Chetachi, and need to be taken care of.

In 2008, Chetachi founded Casmir Care Services, because she thought that by starting her own organization, she could do more for individuals with disabilities. She knew she could make a bigger difference for the people she serves. 

She still remembers one of her early individuals, a woman who had seizures that affected her speech. She was beautiful and talented. And she wanted to make beads and braid hair. “And I knew that I could help her achieve all those,” said Chetachi.

Several other individuals who came along, and for whom there were doubts about the capacity of the young agency to handle, have all seen great overall improvements and have become active members of the community. Some have jobs as well as do volunteering activities.  

It helps, said Chetachi, that when you look at individuals and see yourself in them, you can empathize with them. “Then you will be able to take care of them,” she said. 

Another part of the solution, she noted, is that in order to take care of somebody, you have to meet that person exactly where they are. It takes some time to learn about the individuals, their behaviors, their likes and dislikes, etc. The knowledge helps make a difference for staff working with individuals. 

 

Seeing them as family

What sets Casmir Care Services apart is its emphasis on treating every individual they serve as a family member. “We treat them like our brothers, our sisters, our mother, our father, and we look at them as family,” Chetachi said. “That’s what Casmir Care Services is all about. It’s about love and caring. It’s about having empathy. It’s about understanding. And it’s about going above the call of duty to take care of the individuals.”

Since it started out, Casmir Care Services has not shied away from accepting the most challenging and difficult individuals. Some of the toughest cases, with profound behaviors are accepted at the agency. We accept these cases, because we know that we can do better for them, said Chetachi. And we know that with love and caring, these individuals will become the best.

Since the agency was founded in 2008, one thing has stayed constant, said Chetachi. We’re still the same one big family. And the same philosophy applies: You have to love yourself to treat others with love. “If you see yourself in someone, then you will be able to take good care of that person,” she said.

Our Vision

A leading agency providing quality, effective, person-centered, flexible and innovative services in Pennsylvania and surrounding states.

Contact Us

4950 Parkside Ave, Suite 400,
Philadelphia, Pa 19131
Phone: 267-292-3116
Fax: 267-292-4879
support@casmircares.com

We Are Hiring!

Find a purposeful career by joining our staff! Casmir Care Services is currently hiring:

Direct Support Professionals (DSP) – Per Diem 

Direct Support Professionals (DSP)