Taking care of our parents is an issue that can come up when we least expect it, as Local 700 member Shaun Burdick found out when his mother had to move in with him here in California from New Hampshire due to health issues. Needing to coordinate her dialysis and doctor’s appointments, Shaun says, “We went to Dr. Lee at UCLA Toluca Lake Health Center. I mentioned that I worked for Sony Pictures, and he realized she’d be eligible through my job for case management. He contacted MPTF and social worker Carly Castaneda reached out to me, so we went through the process of establishing eligibility.” MPTF’s Elder Connection program, which provides comprehensive social services to qualified industry members aged 65 and older, as well as parents of qualified industry members, was instrumental in helping, especially after she fell and needed a rehabilitation facility as well as getting on Medi-Cal.
“I’ve been helping him navigate systems, figuring out health insurance issues, her health issues,” Carly explains, “just making these transitions manageable for him because he essentially became a caregiver overnight. What does that look like? How are you managing this? A lot of it has been advocacy, supportive counseling and relieving the emotional burden of feeling alone.” Now Shaun is back to a regular five-day work schedule and, as he says, “My boss is really cool about doing whatever I need to help her out. The pandemic kind of helped me get my place ready. Since I prepped my own home to be able to work during lockdown.” As Carly puts it, Elder Connection is vital in the entertainment industry because “some of these folks have never been introduced to these systems before helping a parent. They’re not really used to hospitals, discharge planning and navigating health care options or talking to attorneys, and we are here to help.