Working with elders during the COVID-19 crisis
May 11, 2020

Joan Hatem-Roy, Chief Executive Officer

Q: I am aware your agency is considered an essential service. My late parents received help at home and I was very grateful. What has been your experience working with older adults and their caregivers during this pandemic?

A: Thank you for your question. This is such a hard question to answer because everyone’s experience is constantly changing during this time, and there are too many unknowns to predict what’s next. I wear many hats….I am a wife, mother, sister, aunt and the CEO of a large eldercare agency. I am a multigenerational caregiver. Hopefully that helps me better understand those who are trying to provide care during these trying times no matter their personal situation. I understand the fear and anxiety this pandemic causes for all of us in every aspect of our lives. But it also makes me even more determined to try and address unmet needs and systems of care that are on overload.

Our office has remained open during this crisis and staff work remotely from home using technology. That allows us to do our daily work…and keep both our consumers and our staff protected. It is not an answer forever as it is our mission to serve people and make their lives work. That’s a relationship business. Just like I want to see my family again in person, we want to see our consumers and families and colleagues soon.

What has been a challenge for the agency, and I think society as a whole, is the amount of suffering and isolation this pandemic has created. Care managers and other staff have served as important emotional supports for their consumers and families, and they have had to bear witness to tragedy and sadness for folks who are alone and isolated from their supports. It makes me very proud of staff and our clinical team that they are so compassionate and caring. The emotional support they offer has been invaluable to a person who is trying to get through a difficult time.

This week, 5/6-5/12 has been recognized as National Nurses Week and this is also the Year of the Nurse according to the World Health Organization. Nurses deserve our thanks and praise and recognition. Their tireless effort to meet the health needs of others, even at the risk of their own health, is inspiring. That is true of all health professionals and other support staff who afford us great medical care each day.

At ESMV/NS, the nurses are integral to our success and the continued quality of our services. Because of the nurses in the agency, our consumers live in a happier healthier world, and we can promote their wellbeing.

This is a stressful time for everyone, and no one can predict the future. But we have been reminded again that the world can be a beautiful and caring place. That we should not take good fortune for granted. That we all have a part to play in the wellbeing of society and our local communities.


Are you struggling caring for an older adult or having difficulty locating resources? Are you struggling caring for an older adult or having difficulty locating resources? Our experienced staff are available to offer assistance. Call 1-800-892-0890 (for the 23 cities and towns of the Merrimack Valley) or 978-750-4540 (for the 5 towns in the North Shore).

Do you have a question? We encourage inquiries and comments from our readers. Direct correspondence to or
Joan Hatem-Roy is the Chief Executive Officer of Elder Services of Merrimack Valley and North Shore.

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