Carol Louise & Family Alliance
Family Alliance in Woodstock, headed by founder Carol Louise, helps care for seniors with a strong support staff and comprehensive services.
With compassion and grace, Carol Louise has been involved at Woodstock-based Family Alliance Inc. for 27 years. “It is one of the best-kept secrets that people don’t appreciate or know about until they need us; and even then they’re not sure where to find us,” said Louise, who is the organization’s founder.
The geriatric health facility offers day services to allow seniors to live at home as long as possible. This includes the services of transportation, counseling, therapy, outreach, long-term care monitoring, dementia-specific health care, financial, legal, family support, animal-assisted therapy, and more.
Keeping Seniors in Their Homes
Family Alliance was founded to create a place where seniors do, in fact, have a place where they belong. In 1980, Carol was a nursing home administrator who realized that many of the patients could be home with their families if only there was a day healthcare facility available.
“The seniors could have been doing activities that they enjoy during the day while their families are working or simply getting a break from care giving,” she said.
After a trial run of this new day healthcare format it was clear that both patients and family members found value and benefits. “Families told me that this new structure made a dramatic, positive difference,” Louise commented.
After conducting community surveys in McHenry, Crystal Lake, Woodstock, and Cary more than 90 percent of the people said they would use the service or they knew somebody that would use the service.
Many caregivers are, themselves, seniors. They often become ill from having to care for aging, ill parents. “Some of these people are 95 and 100 years old and they are being cared for by their children who would like to have a lovely retirement but now they need to care for their parents,” she said.
What happens to these caregivers? Many sacrifice their own families or give up a career to stay at home. Often, too, they may lose out on some retirement benefits if they need to leave their jobs.
A Caring Staff
The staff members at Family Alliance love working with older adults. “When people come to work here many tell me that they need something to give value to their lives and that they want to work in an environment where they can give back. We have fewer turnovers than the average facility,” Louise continued.
With about 50 staff members available — who are trained at all levels of support — every client gets the care they deserve. “We have out-reach staff who go into the community and make sure seniors they take their medicine and get to their doctors,” she said. “Our social workers go to the homes of the seniors and do therapy and counseling with them and their caregivers.”
The administrative staff is dedicated not only to the seniors but to the certification processes and quality service, too. “We ensure that our national certifications and audits from the state and federal levels are complete,” Louise said. “We received compliments from both the county and the state saying this agency needs to teach others because our documentation is so well done.”
Family Care First
Louise drives the overall quality mission. She continually evaluates how to enhance senior and community support. “Our motto is family care,” she proudly stated. One of the reasons that Family Alliance recently refurbished the day room is to keep up with clients’ needs.
“It is a place to meet people, socialize, get out of the house and be cared for. It’s an easy environment to be observed medically because we have nurses and psychiatrists here,” she said.
This non-for-profit organization depends on income from fundraising, grants, and donations in order to resource projects and programs.
“We don’t spend money without looking at the times and researching the best prices,” she said. “State funding decreased by 50 percent this year for us and fundraising has been getting difficult. Because we have been frugal for all these years and we have spent wisely we are financially solid.”
Family Alliance cares for the overall health of seniors: physical, mental and emotional. “One of our clients — who has dementia but recognizes me from seeing me everyday — always says to me, ‘Do you know what we would be doing if we weren’t here? We need to be here because we would be in bed or watching television’,” Louise explained.
“And she is right,” she added. “Many of them would be in nursing homes where they don’t belong.”
Family Alliance is located at 2028 N. Seminary Ave. in Woodstock. For more call 815.338.3590 or visit familyallianceinc.org.