Nancy Morrill: From The Heart
The Area Agency on Aging-Five County was lucky enough to add Nancy Morrill to our team nearly a decade ago. Nancy was, is and will always be the epitome of both a social worker and a case manager. A case manager is defined as:
A person (as a social worker or nurse) who assists in the planning, coordination, monitoring, and evaluation of medical services for a patient with emphasis on quality of care, continuity of services, and cost-effectiveness; also : caseworker. -Merriam-Webster.
Over the years, Nancy has embodied this definition in every way. She has diligently and passionately advocated for and worked on behalf of her clients and all older adults of Southwest Utah. Nancy is a mentor, a leader and a friend to those she serves, her coworkers and colleagues.
After a terminal cancer diagnosis earlier this year, Nancy made the choice to retire. Recently, I sat down with Nancy to talk about her life and her career. Below is her story.
Where did your journey in caregiving begin?
I have been a caregiver all my life. I would say I was born into it. My Grandfather had a stroke May of 1961 with right side paralysis. I was born November of 1961, so I was raised with caregiving responsibilities. He came to live with us that year. He passed away when I was 10 years old. Then, I was a caregiver for my father until he passed away when I was 15. After his death, I was caregiver for my mother as she was severely depressed. It took several years for her to recover. I went off to college and did what I could by phone. I went back to New Jersey when school was out for the summer. My Mother would not let other people into our home to help clean or do anything for her. It was my job.
What is your professional experience with caregiving?
My first real job was with an adolescent rehab program ages 12-18 yrs. I was the night shift person and woke them up in the morning to start their day and made breakfast for them. It was the first time I was exposed to living with drug addicts, mental health issues and suicidal persons. This was a 24-bed facility, always full. I then worked with mentally challenged adults doing job training and helped them have their first work experience in the real world. I enjoyed helping people with disabilities live a more fulfilling life. Then I went on to work for Workers Compensation of Utah. I helped start and establish their Vocational Rehabilitation program. For the first time I was able to go into the home of the injured and/or disabled and help them return to life. This was a very rewarding job. I worked with hundreds of people and their families and employers to educate and assemble a rehabilitation plan for their return to work and life again.
As much as I loved the work, we all succumb to burnout at some point no matter how much we love our job or the people we are working with. I moved on to Social Services Director at a Nursing Home. Wow! I never saw such an environment where everyone needed a caregiver, employees as well. I dug in and loved the work. It was rewarding to give back hope to the residents and families, help them to feel heard and help make changes to improve their lives. Then, I came here. I came home. Working for the Area Agency on Aging has been a dream come true. Finally, I was able to help people return home with the assistance they needed and brought the caregivers to the client. Client's were able to truly realize the goal of living in their own home again with the help they needed to be there. It has been a blessing to so many families and changed lives for the better. Including my own.
Do you want to share any other thoughts?
That is what I see as a caregiver for my Husband and clients, an opportunity to live, love, laugh and be happy in the world we have created and help remove barriers to their happiness. That is the purpose of life. As a caregiver, I want to help the person I love be empowered, feel good about themselves, and help them navigate whatever challenge they are going through now. Why are we caregivers? Because we love them.
Because Nancy has spent her life as a shining example of a caregiver, both personally and professionally, the AAA-Five County Caregiver Committee decided to her honor by creating the “Nancy Morrill: From the Heart Caregiver Award.” This award will be given out for the first time on October 15, 2021 at the “Caregivers Are Superheroes” recognition event, which will be held in Cedar City from 10:30AM-1:30PM. We are asking the community to nominate a Caregiver from within the Area Agency on Aging of Five County boundaries. The award recipient will then be chosen by the Caregiver Committee. The recipient need not be in attendance at the recognition event to receive their award. Any questions can be directed to Sheri Reber (firstname.lastname@example.org).
We are grateful to Nancy for her contributions and dedication to caregiving. We have been touched by her spirit for caregiving and will forever consider her a part of our Five County Family. We wish her the best as she moves into retirement. We love you Nancy!
Tracy HeavyRunner is our Home and Community Based Program Director.
She has been with AAA-Five County since 1996. Tracy graduated from Southern Utah University and is a Social Service Worker. Additionally, she is a certified caregiver coach through the Rosalyn Carter Institute and a Master Trainer for the Chronic Disease, Diabetes and Pain Self-Management Programs.