Jesus Marin, Home Care Manager
When I provide bilingual services to seniors in Western Mass, I’m doing much more than speaking in their preferred language. The work helps to build deep connections, cultural understanding, emotional support, and so much more. Today, I’m honored to share how I started with WMEC, how it continues my mother’s legacy, and how our bilingual services are changing lives each day.
After My Mother Died, My Career Path had to Change
My mother worked as a case manager for WMEC years before I even considered getting into the direct care industry. She was genuinely passionate about her role here. She was bilingual and bicultural, which empowered her to communicate effectively with Spanish-speaking Latino/as and other culturally diverse populations. She knew that by educating and advocating for her consumers, she helped protect, preserve, and enforce their rights. She bridged the gap of communication between consumers, providers, and everyone in between. She enabled Spanish-speaking adults to feel heard and understood.
Unfortunately, my mother became severely ill in 2015. At this point, she had long left employment at WMEC, and began receiving services from the same agency where she had worked for so many years. WMEC provided supportive services like grocery shopping, laundry, medication pickup, light housekeeping, and home-delivered meals. These services freed her from worrying about completing these tasks herself while in constant pain. She referred herself for these services because she had experience with them. However, much of our elderly population doesn’t have this knowledge.
Due to the severity of her illness, I became her health care proxy. In this role, I was forced to make extremely difficult decisions for my mother with no prior knowledge, experience, or understanding of what support services and programs existed besides the ones in which she had enrolled herself. When my mother passed away in 2016 due to stage 4 cancer, I decided to change my career path. I knew at that time that I needed to do more for other Latino/as that may be going through similar struggles with their loved ones.
Together We’re Breaking Barriers and Connecting Cultures
Not only does speaking the consumer’s language help us communicate more readily with the families we help, but it connects us more deeply. Our speech creates familiarity and offers emotional support that might get lost in translation. As my coworker Abigail Morales, the Director of Senior Care Options programs, noticed in her own work, “Speaking the language breaks down barriers as it enables members and staff to express themselves more easily, making everyone feel more comfortable.”
Bilingual services empower older adults who don’t speak English, allowing them to convey their needs, thoughts, and feelings directly and authentically. Seniors who speak English as a second language often find comfort and joy when talking in their first language. These services remind members of our community that we haven’t forgotten about them, and we support them. We meet these adults wherever they are on their journeys and provide them with the resources they need. Everyone deserves to be able to communicate their needs and wants clearly and to be affirmed that they have value. WMEC’s bilingual staff recognizes and supports the humanity and individuality of every member of our community. In the end, language offers much more than a way to communicate.
What Are WMEC’s Spanish-Speaking Services?
With the help of our bilingual services, Spanish-speaking members of our community can access resources, tools, funds, and more to ensure they or the seniors in their lives can live well and safely. The older adults we aid are empowered to be in control of the lives they want to lead and be the ultimate decision-makers for their health.
Like all of our Care Managers at WMEC, our bilingual team members work hard to ensure that you can get support you need for your aging parent’s care. Our goal is to build trust with all of our consumers, and delivering services in a consumer’s native language is an important step in this effort. In this process, as Care Managers get to know your loved ones better, we are able to notice if anything is out of character for them and respond promptly and supportively.
Our commitment to our Spanish-speaking consumers extends beyond Home Care services. For example, we deliver Latino meals to our home-delivered meal consumers, and Fernandez Family Restaurant in Holyoke offers authentic Latino cuisine in a congregate setting where older adults can connect and socialize. As stated in our Nutrition Program blog, these Latino meal options boast the same nutritional value and portioning as our other meal options, while featuring food popular in Latin communities.
With all these great services, we ensure that everyone in our community has the resources they need. So, if you or a Spanish-speaking loved one needs support, don’t hesitate to reach out to us!