2017 Caregiver of the Year | Northeast Region

Debbie Watts

Northeast Region

Pittsburgh, PA Office

Debbie helps her client Beth feel like she’s not disabled – their bond is inspiring. “She has truly turned my life around and turned a light back on inside. I’m happy and look forward to getting up and getting dressed and living every new day.”

Nomination Letters

Written by Beth C., Debbie's cilent

Hello. My name is Beth. I am a 49 year old college educated nurse, who is now wheelchair bound due to Multiple Sclerosis. I am able to stand and pivot to a bedside commode with help. I cannot move my legs independently, and have very little strength in them. My core strength is poor and leaves me unstable and a fall risk as well. My dominant right hand has been affected more severely by the MS, so I have to use my left hand to eat, write, etc. I am supposed to do assisted range of motion exercises every morning. I also get dehydrated easily, so I need to be encouraged to drink water.

I have had many different caregivers over the years, now only from Bright Star. Even when I was fortunate enough to have a regular caregiver, they would usually leave me in my pajamas, skip getting me washed up and brushing my teeth, and then I would spend the entire day sitting in my recliner watching tv. Some of that was my fault because really, what was the point. There were the care givers that were always on their cell phones or watched tv all day, but not too many who actually cleaned up at all, or even communicated with me. I was not good about asking, because I didn't want to cause any problems, and they didn't continue it even if they did it that time anyway.

Then here came Debbie Watts! She is Amazing! One in a Million!!! She has changed my life and emotional status for the better. Everyone that sees me, tells me how good I look, and how they haven't seen me smiling like this in a long time. I credit her for putting the life back into me. Now, every morning, I wake up happy and we exercise. I get washed up at the bed side or take a shower. I get dressed in respectable clothes and eat lunch at the kitchen table. I never used to eat lunch at all. Then we may take my dog for a walk around the neighborhood using my electric wheelchair, something I had never felt comfortable enough to do. I didn't want to be seen as disabled. Debbie has shown me that there is nothing to be ashamed of and I love being outside now. We may play cards or a board game. She is teaching me how to do scrapbooking, which is something I wanted to do as an album for my daughter as a college graduation gift.

Between all the fun, she cleans every day. She even got me involved in majorly cleaning out and reorganizing my closets: kitchen, bathroom x 2, hall, linen, bedroom, and then wanted to help us finish tearing down the wallpaper that we hadn't finished. Phew! She doesn't stop! But guess what? I was enjoying doing all of those things! I was feeling ALIVE for the first time in many years. She never pushed me to do something when I wasn't physically able or didn't think it was something that would be of benefit.

When she found out that the Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium was going to have a special event called Go Dive Now, and that I was interested in seeing if they would let me participate, she started gathering information. We both ended up texting the Director multiple times with our questions and concerns. When the day came, my husband drove us, and she participated as my scuba buddy on one side, and the scuba instructor on the other side.

I can honestly say that I cannot imagine any other caregiver I have ever had, that I would want to share that moment with. I can honestly say, Debbie is "my person". If you are familiar with Meredith and Christina on Grey's Anatomy, then you will understand.

Written by Betty M., mother of Debbie's client

I thank you for the opportunity to express my feelings about my daughter's caregiver, Debbie Watts. I cannot say enough good things about Debbie. She is the best caregiver my daughter has had in twenty some years. She has gotten my daughter from a place of doom and gloom, to becoming a happy young lady.

They are the same age, and have so many things that they can relate to, that my daughter now feels like she has a friend. Even to the point of both having a child in college. My daughter goes out on the street, weather permitting, in her electric wheelchair, which she never used before.

Debbie has a way of combining OT and PT into my daughter's daily activities and my daughter doesn't realize that she is doing this. Debbie is always on time and does the cleaning that she is responsible for. Then she does my daughter's exercises with her in the bed, before starting the daily routine a.m. care.

When my daughter goes out, Debbie makes sure her clothes are cleaned, pressed, and matched. She finds activities for her to do throughout the day to help her keep the muscle strength. My daughter would not eat properly before Debbie came. Now she eats at the kitchen table daily. They laugh and talk together all day. My daughter feels like now she has a life again and is happy.

She looks forward to Debbie coming each morning. They play games, scrapbook, and the two of them have organized all the cabinets in the house. Debbie goes with her to functions and activities outside her home. For example, she took her to meet up with college friends for lunch, to get her hair done, necessary shopping, and to visit me. Debbie has Christian values for which we are thankful. We think of Debbie as a part of our family and not just a caregiver. We are so thankful Debbie has come into our lives, as well as our daughter's.