Family Caregiver of the Year Award Nominee: Robbyn Clayborne


Family Caregiver of the Year Award Nominee: Robbyn Clayborne

Nominated by: Hannah Clayborne

Tell us about the nominee's caregiving story.
Since 2010, my Mom, who is in the early stages of dementia, has required assistance with the following tasks: dialysis treatment (both at home and in the clinic), scheduling and attending doctor’s appointments, preparing meals, and with life activities related to personal care. Throughout this nine-year journey, my sister’s involvement with our Mom’s care has included these aforementioned activities, in addition to, overseeing the management and dispensing of medication, responding to caregivers’ questions and requests, and offering support to Mom during the night.

During this caregiving journey, my sister has attempted to balance her multiple roles─ primary caregiver, Mother and full-time employee─by relying on caregivers during the day and family members, who provide support periodically during the week and on the weekends. It is important to note that even with the assistance of care assistants and family members, Robbyn has served as the primary contact for our Mom and as such has experienced the emotional and mental effects associated with long-term caregiving in a different manner than other family members. To attempt to capture her value and impact in a statement is simply impossible as the amount of hours, energy and resources she has invested in my Mom’s care is immeasurable.

As difficult as it is to capture the breadth and impact of this caregiving journey, the following questions offer some insight into Robbyn's experience as a caregiver. Since 2010, how many days has she spent either directly or indirectly engaged in caregiving duties? How many nights has she listened to our Mother cry because she is having a nightmare or is calling out family members names that have passed on? How many times has she entered our Mom’s bedroom in the morning to conduct the morning routine only to be identified as “Mom” or “Mama?” How many times has she listened to colleagues recount stories about their weekend plans or discuss their upcoming trips as she creates another to-do-list for the week and weekend? How many times has she worried if there will be enough money to cover the care assistants expenses? How has her mental and physical health change because of her role as a primary caregiver? Again, I can’t find the words that fully and accurately capture her experience as a primary caregiver but these questions offer a glimpse into her world as a caregiver.

How does the nominee complement his or her caregiving responsibilities with their own needs and interests?
Given the length of this caregiving experience, coupled with the steady and constant increase of my Mom’s needs, my sister has struggled to meet her own needs and interests. Working full-time and needing to be home before the care assistants leave for the day has limited her ability to fully balance her own needs and interests. When she has managed to remove her primary caregiver hat and engage in non-care giving activities, she has attended or participated in a few social outings with friends and family members.

Tell us about the nominee's problem-solving techniques.
Problem-solving techniques that have been used to address and resolve concerns encountered on this journey include families meetings, updates via text messages, letters, and discussions with health care providers. The array of problem-solving techniques used is an indication of her understanding of the importance of using a multi-faceted approach to address concerns related to this experience. If I had to select a percentage of issues that have been resolved by using these approaches it would be 70%. Issues such as the inconsistent and intermittent involvement of family members in the caregiving process have yet to be resolved.

How does the nominee use online resources or community services?
Within the past year, Robbyn has used online resources to identify viable and proven sources of support for caregivers. The online resources offered a series of testimonials that can be used to uplift one’s spirits or a list of readings that provide useful tips and suggestions for caregivers. In regards to community services, the services that are available are in surrounding areas not where she resides. One of the takeaways from this experience is that living in a small community presents another layer of issues for caregivers as services are often located in larger communities. Though the caregiver may be aware of the existence of community services such as support groups, they are unable to attend due to the distance of the resource from their respective locations.

How does the nominee remain involved in his or her community (including online)?
Due to her role as a primary caregiver and working full-time, community involvement is not a priority. When she has time, she has used online resources as noted in the previous section.

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