Before joining the Berkshire County Arc, the practice of nursing in clinics, centers and hospitals had frustrated Caroline Eldred.

“I treated a lot of people, played a role in helping a lot of people,” she explained. “But I never developed any relationships with the patients, never worked with any of them for the long-term to experience and share their progress.”

That has changed at BCArc. “It’s far more rewarding here,” she said. “I know my patients as people, as individuals. I get to manage their care for years, understand their needs and behaviors.”

As the Nursing Supervisor for Berkshire County, Caroline oversees the nursing staff, with Kate Hood, for more than 45 residential homes in Berkshire and Hampden counties. She also carries a case load, caring for individuals while co-managing the larger program.

Caroline’s nursing work includes educating the individuals about their medications, overseeing the medication and monitoring side effects, and learning about the outcome of every doctor appointment.

“Understanding my individual as a person at BCArc is important because some of them are non-verbal. So I have to understand their level of pain or discomfort, or identify an infection, for example.”

“I know my patients as people, as individuals. I get to manage their care for years, understand their needs and behaviors.”

While the hours are regular –- she’s quick to point out this benefit over hospital work — Caroline will get off-hour calls for occasional emergencies. “Someone may have had a fall, or an unexpected reaction from a medicine,” she said. “These are all people I know for many years now. They are depending on me and I want to be there for them.”

Caroline, with her fiancée Kevin, has two children—Jaelynn and Kevin Jr.

“Working at BCArc let me pursue my professional goals as a nurse and it allows me to be a good mother. Not all nurses can say that about their employer.”

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