A Special Place in My Heart

Caregiver Vinnette Morgan treats her clients like family

 Dr. John Lacey and Vinnette Morgan, who cared for Lacey’s wife, Naomi, when she went through dementia. They’re pictured here during a visit at Lacey’s home.Photo by Jared Sych.

Dr. John Lacey and Vinnette Morgan, who cared for Lacey’s wife, Naomi, when she went through dementia. They’re pictured here during a visit at Lacey’s home.Photo by Jared Sych.

Over the past 10 years, private caregiver Vinnette Morgan has cared for clients and their loved ones as though they were members of her own family. And that was particularly the case with Naomi Lacey. 

Morgan first cared for Lacey in her own home, then later at Maison Senior Living, a Calgary assisted-living facility that also provides memory services. Lacey had dementia, and she spent her days at Maison with Morgan.

Morgan connected deeply with Lacey. “I call Naomi my princess. She was such a beautiful person, not just outwardly, but within. She has a special place in my heart. She’s family.”

A good caregiver becomes part of the family. Vinnette put a lot into taking care of Naomi.
— John Lacey

Morgan took the time to really get to know Lacey and what made her happy. So, when Lacey was no longer able to express her needs, “I still knew what to do,” she says.

Not only did Morgan perform essentials like choosing Lacey’s meals and administering medication, but she also put together special outfits and did her hair and makeup the way Lacey liked it.

“I would take her to the mall because she loved to go shopping. I’d take her for walks, go for an ice cream, just those little things we all enjoy.”

Morgan recognized the importance of her role to Lacey’s family, too.

“It is very hard for the family, so you have to be there for them and give them good encouragement. John [Naomi’s husband] would come on a daily basis and sometimes Naomi didn’t realize he was there. That was hard.”

For John, who was married to Naomi for 61 years, the family feeling is mutual. “A good caregiver becomes part of the family. Vinnette put a lot into taking care of Naomi. I always made it a point to recognize that.”

John knew he needed help with Naomi as her dementia progressed, especially as he was fighting a fourth bout with cancer himself. He found three wonderful caregivers to provide around-the-clock care, with Morgan as the primary day caregiver.

“The thing that a good caregiver gives is assurance,” he says. “You’re not worried if she’s being looked after; you know she is. When you find the right caregiver, you get an enormous sense of relief. You can share the burden.”

Being a caregiver is not a job for everyone, Morgan says. “You have to have a lot of patience and empathy. It’s a very trying job, especially when dealing with dementia. But it’s not the person; it’s the condition.”

Though Naomi passed away in January of 2017, John and Morgan remain close. Like family, “she still finds me once a week to see how I’m doing,” John says. “I’m very lucky.” [ ]