Kay Madlingozi
2021 Caregiver of the Year Awards: Home Care, Northeast

Kay Madlingozi, CHHA

"I want to thank Kay for making my husband's last years more comfortable and tolerable. Being the wife of a disabled man is difficult, but Kay made it more manageable and less stressfull."

Sometimes things aren’t quite what they seem – caregiver Kay Madlingozi is a perfect example! Susan K. tells us that Kay is an unexpected powerhouse tucked into her petite frame. Kay provided Susan and her husband with more than three years of care that required a lot of heavy lifting – physically, mentally and emotionally. With degenerative muscular disease and diabetes, Mr. K’s daily needs were significant, and yet Kay went above and beyond his care plan to support Susan in her role as a co-caregiver. In her nomination letter she said,  I want to thank Kay for making my husband's last years more comfortable and tolerable. Being the wife of a disabled man is difficult, but Kay made it more manageable and less stressfull.

Nomination Letter

Written by Susan K., Mr. K's wife

When Kay arrived on our doorstep, I was unsure of her ability to care for my 6-foot husband because she is small in stature. However, she exuded an air of confidence and friendliness. She has excellent communication skills and shares her own stories when appropriate. 

My husband was confined to a power wheelchair for the past 12 years and suffered from a disease that caused his muscles to slowly atrophy, plus he had diabetes which he controlled by insisting on a wholesome diet. When Kay arrived, he could not move his legs and had limited use of his hands. He needed care with bathing, dressing, food prep and getting into bed. His abilities gradually worsened so new methods of care were periodically necessary. After a stroke he also need helped with eating for a few months. Routines were very important to him to keep things running smoothly. 

Kay had no difficulty handling Roger’s size. She was able to lift him when needed and aide me in exercising his legs. She was very interested in keeping herself fit and exercised every day. She even taught me some exercises. 
Kay was able to handle all his needs with ease. She has a quiet, but positive, demeanor that fit well with our lifestyle. Her compassion and keen sense of observation was vital in helping manage his pain and mood. Kay is someone who takes the initiative. She acts on a situation immediately. Her ability to be proactive made my life as a co-caregiver so much less stressful. We worked together as a team to keep my husband’s time in the uncomfortable shower chair short, so his pain and discomfort were lessened. Showering in a shower chair could be difficult. Even with a large shower there wasn’t much room for both the shower chair and the aide. Because Kay kept herself physically fit by exercising every day, she was able to handle any situation. Some aides we had just couldn’t do the job easily because of lack of strength or inability to function in a certain position. Once the long morning procedures were over, he was more comfortable in his wheelchair. 

Over time, some care procedures had to be changed because of his declining condition. She suggested new methods of care when needed. We usually reviewed the options with my husband before deciding which would be best. She was patient and understanding to his needs. When a new procedure was determined, we could carry it out without a lot of conversation. So much was accomplished with just a look or a nod. We were a team working to make him comfortable. Kay was very organized with her time. She was efficient and always got things done in a timely fashion. He was very concerned about the timing of his meals, so she worked to keep him on a schedule. She organized and remembered his medications and when they had to be administered. She helped to remind me of things too. 

He was a stoic man who preferred a quiet house. However, his dry sense of humor often had us laughing. Kay could encourage these moments by stimulating conversation. Coming from her it was almost always successful. She knew his personality as well as his needs and capabilities. Her ability to interact with him helped build an environment of trust and security. She has been with us for 3.5 years and has become a part of our family. At one point during Covid, Kay even helped me trim my hair. She is a jack of all trades and will try to help in any way she can. There were times when I just need to talk with someone. I could count on Kay to be there for me. She was a great listener. We shared stories of our families at times too. 

Shortly after his death, Kay returned to help me through 3 surgeries. Having been one of the caregivers and his wife, it was difficult for me to reverse roles and become the person in need of assistance. She helped me do that by reminding me that she was there for me. Often, she would say, “You need to rest and put your feet up.” She helped me deal with my emotions and my physical condition. Thanks to her, I am doing very well. I want to thank her for making my husband's last years more comfortable and tolerable. Also, a huge thank you for everything she did for me. Being the wife of a disabled man is difficult, but Kay made it more manageable and less stressful.