As senior citizens get older, sometimes they aren’t as able to be as independent as they have been all their adult lives. Many seniors, and their families, face the challenges of this situation every day. Assisted living housing and nursing homes are extremely expensive and require the senior to move out of their own home, often against their wishes. Often their goal is to continue living as independently as possible, whether in their own home or in a family household.
Heaven Sent is an organization in Warrenton that can assist seniors and families in these situations. Providing senior care services, their mission is to help their clients lead dignified, independent lifestyles in the comfort and safety of their own homes by providing dependable and affordable care.
Founded by owner Cherie Vermillion, Heaven Sent is a product of careful prayer and preparation. Cherie, previously an IT manager who was laid off after the dot com crisis, prayed to God to guide her in making her decision as to what to do next for her life’s mission, and she was inspired to care for the elderly. Without any experience in elderly care except with her own family and neighbors, Cherie researched the industry, formed her vision for her company, and opened the doors in 2002 from her home office in Warrenton.
Heaven Sent provides the full gamut of elderly care, from caring for clients who need just a little help with transportation to appointments and grocery shopping, all the way to those who are bedridden and who need complete personal hygiene care. Cherie’s caregivers can also help with meals, light housekeeping, medication reminders, and, more importantly, companionship. “We are different from Home Health; they’re sending folks out to perform tasks and leave. We are there for the duration, we become extended family members to the clients.” Cherie explained.
What does Cherie see in the elderly today? “They are losing their independence, and they don’t like it. They are lonely and bored, and sometimes get depressed and lose interest or can no longer do things they once enjoyed. Our job is to increase their quality of life. I have one client who periodically requests a ride to her hairdresser in Front Royal. It gets her out of the house, and it energizes her and makes her happy. Sometimes clients aren’t well enough for big outings, but we still try to get them out a little, maybe for ice cream on a nice day. It makes them feel like they’re alive. We try to be a light in their day.”
While Cherie is personally involved in every single case, from initial assessment on, she prides herself on her staff, which is very carefully selected, trained, valued, and trusted for their judgement. It takes a special kind of person for this calling. And it is considered a calling, not just a job. First of all, they must love working with the elderly. “I look for the right heart for this kind of service. If that doesn’t exist, it just won’t work,” Cherie said. “I look for people who are flexible and and can get along with a wide variety of people.” Extensive, ongoing training is provided, and her caregivers are trusted and rewarded for their valuable work. As Cherie explained, “After all, if my caregivers aren’t happy, how can they make the client happy?”
Cherie carefully matches her caregivers with her clients, and always introduces them prior to starting care to ensure a good fit. “It’s got to be a win-win situation, when I pair a caregiver to a client. Otherwise, nobody wins. It all goes back to quality of life, and quality of care.”
The prices at Heaven Sent are often lower than those of similar organizations — and they offer more flexibility with unexpected scheduling changes — but the quality of care is still paramount. Cherie concluded, “This is a ministry for me. I care greatly about the individuals and that they are treated with dignity, honor, and respect, which quite often they don’t get. When I took care of my first client, the first time I left her apartment I stood out in the hallway and bawled my eyes out. Because I could not believe I could have that much compassion for a complete stranger. My heart just overflowed. That’s when I knew this was where I’m supposed to be.”