Care of the soul inspires a grateful heart

A simple “thank you” would not suffice. Robert Schmitz felt the staff who had watched over his mother, Elaine, night and day needed a gift to let them know their work, done with such compassion, had touched his heart.

Elaine was a resident at The Lutheran Home: Belle Plaine where she lived in the Special Care Residence, designed to provide a higher level of care as Alzheimer’s or other dementias progress.

It had been a struggle for Robert to find a place for his mother to live, a place that felt right, until he visited TLH. He could tell nurses and staff there would truly look after Elaine’s’ needs — physical, intellectual, spiritual, emotional.

“It wasn’t good: It was great,” Robert said.

Robert’s frequent visits to see his mom revealed how awesome the Special Care Residence employees are, like Kim Stier, who recently started her 34th year working at TLH. Kim gives her all to residents and takes the inherent challenges of memory care one day at a time.

“I love helping residents out, and the pay back is wonderful — the smiles and the hugs I get,” Kim said. “It makes me feel good I can help them.”

“Staff take extra time; provide loving, calming care; and made a wonderful life for not just my mom, but every single person in that unit,” Robert said. “There are no favorites here. The staff treat everyone well, and not just well, but extraordinary.”

He looked for a way to thank everyone who worked in the Special Care Residence. He sought help from Deb Dietrich, regional director of mission advancement for The Lutheran Home Association.

“Robert wanted to give them a bit of joy, a way to make their days happier, or gift them a bit of a break as he saw how hard they worked,” Deb said. “He said, ‘They are really incredible, so I want to do something nice for them.’”

But when she asked the staff what they might want, the answer surprised Deb. It wasn’t a pizza party or something for the break room. It was a way for them to give even more attention to residents.

“They asked for an additional electronic charting system to get medical data charted efficiently, freeing them up to spend more time with each resident,” Deb said.

Robert delivered. The cost of the unit and wall cabinet was $500 more than he originally planned as a gift: He didn’t hesitate, but agreed to pay the entire amount.

Soon after, he received a photo of Kim and nursing assistant Lynn Brown with the new charting system. Written around the photo were notes of thanks from SCR team members grateful for Robert’s help keeping the care of the soul as the soul of care.