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Nicole Kanis, Caregiver Specialist

Nicole Kanis serves as MHCC’s Caregiver Specialist – providing support by phone and/or in person for those who are new to the role of caregiver as well as those who have been caring for years. Some are caring for a parent, a spouse or extended family member. The needs of caregivers are great if they are to provide good care for those they love.  With the goal to provide that much-needed support, Nicole facilitates a Caregivers Support Group the third Thursday of the month at 10am. Participants gather at Montachusett Home Care where members share experiences as caregivers, techniques to make caregiving easier as well as frustrations that might surface while taking care of others. Nancy Little, a long-time member of the support group describes fellow participants as a lifeline. Nancy does not hold back in talking about her appreciation for Montachusett Home Care for the support she has received, “I am very involved in a senior center and I tell people that they need to connect with Montachusett Home Care – they will help you so much.”

Nancy, who cares for her husband has also completed the Savvy Caregiver Course, The free six-week course, led by Nicole, is for caregivers caring for individuals with Alzheimer’s or related dementia .  The next session is schedule to be held at the Westminster Senior Center and will begin on April 1 from 10 to noon. Those who are interested do not need to be from Westminster to benefit from the course.

Similar to the helpfulness of the support group, Nancy found the Savvy Caregiver Course as a great opportunity to learn about resources and techniques, share ideas, and lend an ear to others in the group. “I learned a great deal in the course but probably one of the most important things is that no two caregiver journeys are the same. Those we care for have unique needs. What works for some may not work for others. It was great to be able express frustrations and have others offer suggestions. For me, the course made a difference. I encourage others to take it.”

Nicole, who is a Savvy Caregiver trained practitioner through the Healthy Living Center for Excellence has 10 years of experience in elder services programs. She recently received her certification as a Dementia Practitioner. Asked to reflect on her work Nicole stated, “I have met many caregivers in my role at MHCC. They all bring different skills and experiences to their caregiving roles and are in different stages of the caregiving journey. What they all share is an incredible heart for those they care for and a commitment to be the best caregiver possible. It is a privilege to support them in that role.”

Interested in the Savvy Caregiver Course? E-mail Nicole at nkanis@mhcc-1.org