Wilmington caregiver is one of many who went above and beyond during COVID


For Candy Palmer, it was a vocation to become a home health aide.

As a young girl growing up on Long Island, Palmer was always inspired by her aunt who was a caregiver and also raised her. When her grandparents and other family members were old and preparing to die, Palmer cared for them.

“It was just a natural thing, caring and loving people, being able to make them smile,” Palmer said.

Now, after more than 15 years as a caregiver for the elderly and disabled, Palmer has been recognized as one of nine Caregivers of the Year by Right At Home, a national organization that connects people with caregivers for home care.

Palmer began working with Right At Home in 2017, and after weathering both Hurricane Florence and the COVID-19 pandemic, she was selected as the regional winner of the award.

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Stacey Buechler, director of employee experience at Right At Home, said it’s especially important to recognize caregivers who have gone above and beyond the call of duty during the pandemic to serve patients, especially those who cannot see their families.

Many of Palmer’s patients are elderly and live in assisted living facilities or are at high risk for COVID-19 due to medical conditions, the story so many caregivers have faced as the coronavirus spread through the community and in the world.

Right At Home awards one national award and eight regional awards each year. Of the 25,000 employees in her region, Palmer was selected this year as the Central East regional winner for her resilience and humility, Buechler said.

“It’s just a pleasure to have caregivers like Candy making these big events seem so small because of the natural way she handles and moves forward and steps forward and jumps just to help others,” Buechler said.

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Palmer described the COVID-19 pandemic as the most difficult time of his career. She said the hardest part was trying to comfort her patients when they couldn’t see their family, and often the only communication they had with loved ones was by phone.

Sometimes, Palmer said, she was one of the only people allowed into the room when a patient died, especially for those living in assisted living facilities.

Now, as doctors, nurses and caregivers see some of the lowest death rates among high-risk populations since the pandemic began, Palmer said it was an honor to be recognized for her dedication to some of Wilmington’s most vulnerable residents.

Her boss and colleagues surprised her with a celebration to announce that she had won the regional Caregiver of the Year award, which she described as “amazing”.

“I was so grateful and I was so appreciated,” Palmer said.

Palmer embodies the dedication that caregivers like her and others have shown to caring for patients throughout the pandemic, as well as when Hurricane Florence devastated the Wilmington community.

Palmer has cared for her three children, one of whom has cerebral palsy, while giving her all to her patients for the past three years.

In a Right At Home press release, the wife of one of Palmer’s patients described vividly remembering Palmer singing hymns to her husband, who has cancer, whenever he got restless. or restless.

“What we have seen with these caregivers, including Candy, is that they are so resilient in the face of a pandemic and they can continue to have this compassion with their commitments while what is happening in the world. [of COVID-19]Buechler told StarNews.

Palmer received a cash prize of $1,000, a crystal prize with her name on it, and a personalized prize box for being named Caregiver of the Year.

For Palmer, caring for those in need isn’t for recognition: it’s a passion and a calling she’s dedicated to since she was a child.

Her goal, she said, is to “treat people the way you would want to be treated” through her loyalty, honesty and care for her patients.

“That’s the most important thing a caregiver can do is show her love,” Palmer said. “No matter what you’re going to work with, trouble at home or whatever, you turn that off when you open the door.”

Reporter Sydney Hoover can be reached at 910-343-2339 or shoover@gannett.com.


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