Since Sharecare’s acquisition of tech-enabled home care provider CareLinx in 2021, non-medical caregivers have been instrumental in helping our clients identify and address patient risk factors, engage their members to close care gaps, and reduce preventable medical utilization. With program-specific training for health plans, including Medicare Advantage, and other healthcare stakeholders, their presence as the “eyes, ears, and arms” in patients’ homes on behalf of their providers helps people live better, longer, and with dignity.
Our first spotlight of the year, Tameco Brewster, is one of Sharecare’s outstanding caregivers, set apart by her unwavering dedication and compassionate heart – not only in her profession, but also in her personal life, including her role as the founder of a non-profit that provides support for mothers and families of victims of gun violence.
At the frontline of the home care industry since 2001 when she worked with In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS), Tameco has a decades-long track record of demonstrating a meaningful impact on the care of patients and their families. Providing peace of mind to dozens of families by helping their loved ones age in place and maintain their independence, Tameco has provided the full spectrum of home care support for two individuals until their passing. A testament to her incredible empathy and attentiveness, to this day she keeps in touch with their families. Working with CareLinx since 2013, Tameco is also among the inaugural class of tech-enabled caregivers, growing her experience as a caregiver in parallel with the industry as tools to manage care delivery with technology are increasingly implemented.
Her 22 years of home care service reflect not only her profound commitment to the well-being of those entrusted to her care, but also her exceptional ability to forge meaningful connections with compassion and empathy, which are readily evident to all who interact with Tameco. While it’s difficult to measure the indispensable impact a caregiver has in extending the longevity and healthspan of older adults, several families have retained Tameco for more than a year with her longest role spanning six years, and she’s received glowing remarks and gratitude from all her clients.
Speaking of her servant heart, Tameco’s passion for caregiving extends to her personal endeavors, as she aims to help others through loss and deep pain she’s personally experienced: losing a child to gun violence. In addition to fostering a dozen children over the last five years, Tameco founded the Movement of Mourning Mothers Association (M.O.M.M.A.) in 2016, to provide families of victims of gun violence with the essential tools to recover and build a foundation of hope, while advocating to reduce gun violence. In fact, since 2021, M.O.M.M.A. has hosted summer camps for 50 at-risk youth each year in an effort to provide them with access to mental health resources and help steer them away from gun violence.
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Can you tell us what home care entails?
In my role as a caregiver for Sharecare’s home care service, CareLinx, I support care recipients and their families with their homemaking and personal care needs. As a caregiver, you serve a lot of roles and truly have to be a nurturer, a companion, and a confidante – who also helps extend the reach of providers like nurses and doctors. Of the utmost importance is bringing a high level of compassion and being prepared to meet the needs of those we serve. Whether it’s support for activities of daily living, remedying loneliness, or helping to identify and make sure that mental health needs are addressed, you must come with a heart full of compassion and willingness to step up and help with whatever they need. Those needs differ, whether it’s providing support through companionship, household tasks, and transportation or assisting with activities of daily living like bathing, grooming, dressing, or mobility.
How did you first become a caregiver, and what was that journey like?
Well, what first really got me interested in providing home care, was that I had a friend who suffered from a lot of different ailments. She used to be mistreated a lot. One day she asked me to cook her some food, and then after that she asked, “Can you take me to the doctor?” and it organically developed from there. That was about 2001. It wasn’t really planned, but from there on, she and I together started doing private-duty nursing.
In 2013, I started working as a caregiver on the CareLinx platform. I remember my very first client, who I worked with for several years until he passed. Before that, I was caregiving, but for In-Home Social Services (IHSS). I acquired several clients through their referral program. I’m a substance abuse counselor by training, and I studied and graduated from ICDC College with an associate’s degree in substance abuse counseling. I’ve worked with individuals in the mental health field – and this background also helps me understand how to provide strong support to those under my care by being mindful of their mental health needs.
Can you share a little about your non-profit, M.O.M.M.A.?
I wasn’t looking to start a nonprofit, but I lost my son in 2011 to gun violence. During that time, it completely threw me off my game. I wasn’t able to nurture or care for anybody, whether it was in a mental health capacity or a physical caregiving capacity. During this time, I didn’t have any resources to help me get by, and as I searched for support where I lived at time, there wasn’t much to be found for mourning individuals.
After my losing my son, I made up my mind that I was going to be that aide for those who were mourning and needed real help and organize the necessary support and resources. Those struggling with grief can have several other problems that are impacted by loss; they still need to pay their bills or may need help to obtain food, because they’re unable to return to work right away. Aside from physical resources, bringing together people who were like-minded for support was also so important – not so we can cry and mourn, but so that we can heal and strengthen ourselves. So, in 2016, I founded M.O.M.M.A, to provide mourning mothers with the essential tools needed to recover, thrive, pick up the pieces and soar, by engaging and connecting with communities to build a foundation of strength and hope.
What M.O.M.M.A. project are you most proud of?
Out of all the projects that we do, our annual camp is what I’m most proud of because of how the children respond to it. Children’s minds are like sponges, so we intervene with a preventative program. If we can take them out of their surroundings, out of the environment that they’re used to and instead into to a place where they realize they’re not alone in their struggles, they’re able to find support and camaraderie that helps reduce the isolation that puts them at risk. Since 2021, our summer camps have hosted 50 at-risk youth in an effort to provide them with access to the mental health resources they need and help steer them away from the impact of gun violence.
We’re not just there for the camp, we’re there for those children to provide resources for them long after the camp is over. Our youth camp, and their response to the program over the last three years is what makes me most proud of the foundation.
Do you have any fun plans for the holidays?
For Christmas this year, M.O.M.M.A. gave toys out to unhoused and less fortunate children in our communities. We set up in downtown Los Angeles, and in addition to toys, we also had hot meals for them. They also left with groceries, supplies, coats, and sweaters. I feel fortunate to have the support of my family in this work. They aren’t always all available to help me with every event – sometimes, maybe one or two might not be present – but for the most part, my children, my husband, nieces, and nephews; they come together and help me as much as possible.
What advice do you have for caregivers?
Self-care is very important, and you cannot put that off for anything, because if you’re not doing well for yourself, your work is going to be sloppy, and you’re going to be neglectful. So just practice self-care, however that looks for you. For me, it’s spending my time doing several things, the nonprofit being one. I’ve also picked up different hobbies and enjoy spa days. Self-care looks different for everybody, but these are the things that I am diligent about and if I feel myself getting overwhelmed, I take time for myself.