TJC is honored to nominate Ms. Stephanie Rucker as one of our Caregivers of the Year. Ms. Rucker is a strong advocate for her mother. She has shown persistence and perseverance throughout the long months leading up to her mother receiving nursing home care in a specialized facility, for her Alzheimer’s.
Ms. Rucker came to us back in 2021 regarding care for her mother, Ms. Shockley. Ms. Shockley is a 58-year-old woman with Alzheimer’s. Her condition was quickly progressing, to the point where specialized nursing home care was the only way she would have the necessary supports to live with the condition. Ms. Shockley was uninsured and had no income; therefore, insurance was necessary for her to live in a specialized nursing facility to be taken care of with her condition. To ensure her mother was taken care prior to being admitted into a nursing facility, Ms. Rucker resigned from the job she loved, and became her mother’s full-time caregiver. She drove her mother to doctors’ appointments almost an hour away, she helped her mother apply for Social Security benefits, and was the driving force behind the acceptance of the lengthy application process for TennCare CHOICES.
The application process for TennCare CHOICES was not easy; however, it was the only way Ms. Shockley could attain insurance at the time, and it was necessary for admission into a specialized care nursing facility. There were many hoops that Ms. Rucker had to jump through throughout the entire application process. This included wrongful application denials, multiple specialist appointments, having to deliver paperwork by hand to clinics almost an hour away, and the list goes on. However, Ms. Rucker always persisted and persevered, because she knew how important insurance was for the care her mother needed. After 6 long months, Ms. Shockley was finally approved TennCare CHOICES and was admitted into a specialized nursing facility. She has been very happy here and is being taken care of well by the staff.
Ms. Rucker describes her mother to be very outgoing, caring, humorous, and considerate of other people’s needs. Her mother has always been there when she needed her, and Ms. Rucker is grateful to help her mother in the amount she can now.
Ms. Rucker has been in Tennessee since 2002. She received her CDL in 2020 and has a joy for truck driving. She has 5 God children and enjoys keeping herself busy through her work. In the past she has volunteered with Hands-On Nashville and loves to give back to her community when she can. She says that TJC was one of the only organizations that tried to help her in getting her mom’s care. She says working with TJC was a relief as we were there to help, listen, understand, and give compassion when she needed it. She believes that access to healthcare for all kids and seniors in Tennessee is important, as people deserve health care and the ability to be taken care of – everyone deserves this as a human right, and she is willing to do what she can to help others. Ms. Rucker says that “I hope that others who are going through something similar, don’t feel like they are doing everything for nothing, or that it is a never-ending fight. There is help. Keep going, there is help out there. Remain strong”.
Ms. Rucker’s advocacy for her mother was the primary reason why her mother got the care she has now. Without Ms. Rucker’s self-less ness, persistence, and desire to go above and beyond to ensure her mother got the care she needed; her mother would likely not have the care she has right now. I am so incredibly honored to nominate Ms. Rucker as one of our Caregivers of the Year, because she is an example of an incredible advocate for others.
Photographs by John St. Clair