Photo courtesy of Angie Ochoa
Jessica Kulsrud

Jamie’s Place employee Jessica Kulsrud was recently named Washington State Adult Family Home Caregiver of the Year, by the Adult Family Home Council.

Jamie’s Place is one of nearly 2,900 Adult Family Homes in Washington, all of which belong to a central council. Each year, the council accepts nominations for the award and selects a winner from among the tens of thousands of employees working at these homes.

“It’s a huge accomplishment for Jessica to win this award,” said Angie Ochoa, administrator and Jamie’s Place house manager. “But it’s not surprising. Jessica is the most loving caretaker I’ve ever met. She’s all heart, all compassion.”

Kulsrud moved to the Methow Valley seven years ago, from a career in a Nevada nursing home. Unlike typical nursing homes, Jamie’s Place is an Adult Family Home (AFH); it provides a community-based residential setting with 24-hour care and services. Jamie’s Place is also unique in that it is the only nonprofit AFH in the nation.

The AFH model of providing elders with respectful and dignified care suits Kulsrud’s character well, said Ochoa. “We all look up to her. She has such a gentle and natural way with the elders. You can tell she really cares. Everything she does honors these people.”

Ochoa tells a story that captures Kulsrud’s philosophy — just one of many such stories her co-workers tell about her. “One time Jessica worked a full shift and then sat by a dying elder’s side for 24 hours. She didn’t sleep; she just sat with him. And then when it was time for her next shift to start she got up and worked another eight-hour shift, and then returned to his bedside.”

“Hands down,” Ochoa continued, “Jessica is the best at end-of-life care. It’s very hard to express how much she means to us, to the residents, and to their families. I almost feel like there’s a higher power with Jessica. She has such grace. She teaches everyone around her. She inspires others to be like her.”

And it’s not just Jamie’s Place and Mountain View House residents (the second of the two Jamie’s Place homes) who benefit from Kulsrud’s compassionate caregiving. Kulsrud is also raising three children and has another one on the way. As for the rest of us, Ochoa says, “We are all lucky to have Jessica in our community.”