Our People: Elizabeth Pruett

Elder Healthcare Advocate

“Having difficulty understanding the healthcare system? Overwhelmed caring for a parent or older adult?”

Those questions, getting immediately to the heart of the matter, greet each visitor to Care Weavers’ website. Perhaps ironically, given that the company she co-founded with fellow registered nurse Cindy Hostetler was built specifically to assist caregivers in navigating the challenges of their role, Elizabeth Pruett’s ideal world would be one in which the answer to both were always a confident “no.”

The longtime local is also a longtime believer in the worth of society’s elders, and, as a result, a longtime advocate for a revolution in the field of eldercare. With a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, professional certification and three decades in the healthcare industry under her belt, Pruett has had a front-row seat to the difficulties of aging in the context of that system. Not only the elder individual, but their loved ones as well, too often find themselves lost in a labyrinth of bureaucracy, conflicts of interest, lack of concern, ignorance and isolation, to the detriment of all involved. That state of affairs, she quickly became convinced, is not something she is willing to accept.

Enter Care Weavers. Drawing on a deep personal connection to the elders in her own life in combination with a career’s worth of wisdom, Pruett set out to create change. She spoke to qnotes about the roots of her conviction, the services her company provides and how family and friends can ensure the wellbeing of their loved ones through every stage of their lives.

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To begin, how long have you called the Charlotte area home?

32 years.

What led you to the decisions to pursue a career in nursing and to concentrate on eldercare? Were those choices made simultaneously, or did one follow the other?

I always enjoyed my older patients and had the great joy of having grandparents as active participants in my childhood. Experiencing the special privilege of caring for my parents at the end of their lives was the final driver of my decision.

How would you describe the services Care Weavers provides?

Advocacy and healthcare navigation services that support our clients with complex medical issues or when transitioning to later stages of life.

How did you and co-owner Cindy Hostetler come to establish the company?

[By] working in a healthcare industry that typically serves the needs of the providers instead of those needing care. We frequently encounter situations in which people are unprepared for navigating a system that is not designed to steer them to decisions that may be the best solutions to their specific need or desire. Older patients can be particularly at risk in this environment where there is little time for questioning and understanding the impact of decisions.

In your experience, what’s missing from current standard practices in the eldercare industry?

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Professionalism from providers and [a solution to the] lack of knowledge and low expectations from consumers. An informed, demanding consumer is what is going to change the industry.

We’ve just celebrated a suite of winter holidays, including the advent of 2019. In the coming year, what can families and friends do to ensure that a loved one whose health, living situation or financial circumstances may prevent them from attending traditional gatherings, still feels included?

If someone is unable to travel to a gathering or event, go to them instead! Don’t wait for the holidays — it is always the right time to visit with someone who is unable to get around as much as they used to!

In addition to your nursing career and extensive experience as a business owner in the healthcare field, you’ve served as a volunteer with a local organization providing hospice and palliative care. While there can be no good time to lose a loved one, do you have any advice for individuals and families forced to say goodbye in what should be a festive season?

I don’t believe advice is what anyone wants or needs at a time of loss.

And finally, what do you wish everyone knew about caring for and supporting elder members of our community?

Never assume you know what is best for someone else. Take time to understand what is important to them and what they need and want from you.

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