News MCB Caregiver Spotlight: Rachel Bancroft

At MCB, we recognize the achievements of the people we serve. The stories here celebrate individuals who strive to live independently in order to give back to their families, friends, community, and world.
  • Massachusetts Commission for the Blind
Headshot of Rachel Bancroft, MCB Caregiver

By Jackson Crilley

MCB Caregiver Spotlight: Rachel Bancroft

Rachel Bancroft is a caregiver who works alongside DeafBlind Extended Supports (DBES) counselors to provide in-home care for adults who are DeafBlind with complex needs. For nearly four years, Rachel and her family have provided a home and care to a woman named Risa*. Within her home, Rachel’s family, including her mother, husband, and children, help with the caretaking process. Rachel holds two bachelor’s degrees; one in psychology from Wheaton College and another in nursing from Florida Atlantic University. Previously, she worked with children who have special needs at Bradley Hospital in Providence as a milieu therapist, and later as a nurse.

Rachel Bancroft of North Attleboro is a wife, mother, daughter, and caregiver for Risa, a woman who receives DBES services from MCB. Rachel’s home is a busy place. She lives with her husband, mother, three young sons, and Risa.                                            

Risa has complex medical needs and a severe seizure disorder. With the help of her family, Rachel provides a home and care for Risa, who relies upon her for everyday needs. Risa typically attends a day program, but due to the pandemic, she was at home all day, alongside Rachel’s own children who were completing remote school. During that time, Rachel relied upon a rotation of direct care staff and family to keep going.

“As the restrictions lessened, I got a physical therapist for Risa,” explained Rachel as she spoke of the challenges presented by COVID-19. “I really used the doctors as much as possible. We just did our best, and we did okay. It was just hard.”

Image of Rachel Bancroft sitting on a chair providing care for an individual with complex needs

Rachel is no stranger to personalized in-home care. Her mother, who assists with Risa’s care, was the caretaker for another woman for 10 years.

“I thought that I couldn’t do this ever actually,” said Rachel. “My mom learned about this need and brought it up. I consider everything as a possibility.”

A big part of Rachel’s decision to take on the role of caregiver was finding someone to care for who was a good fit for her family.

Gene Hoy, a retired DBES counselor with MCB, recognized that Risa needed a placement where her medical needs would be met, and once Rachel heard her story, she knew she was ready to take on the role. With her background in nursing, Rachel was able to recognize and care for Risa and her medical complexities. Risa has been with the Bancroft family for almost four years now.                                         

Rachel worked with Gene up until his retirement to ensure that Risa receives the services she needs. Her mother had a long history of working with Gene as well during her time as a caregiver. Rachel says that Gene was always approachable and available while being a great resource throughout her caregiver experience.

“When I first met Risa, it was evident that she had a lot of needs,” said Rachel. “She has a lot of limitations and is not interactive, but I felt like I could take care of her activities of daily living and get her the support she needed in a safe home where her life would be more enjoyable. I felt very confident.”

Alyssa Carroll is a DBES counselor at MCB and is currently Risa’s counselor at MCB. She describes Rachel as someone who is “personable, invested in what she does, and an overall down-to-earth person.”

“When I started at MCB in September, some of the first people I heard about was Rachel and Risa. Everyone speaks so highly of Rachel here and when I had the pleasure of meeting them both, I could definitely see why. Rachel has cultivated such a great environment, team, and family for Risa. She’s really lucky to have someone like that in her life,” Alyssa said.

This is not Rachel’s first time serving as a caregiver either. Prior to Risa, Rachel welcomed another individual with different needs who also received services from MCB into her home. Sadly, she passed away prior to Rachel learning about Risa.

The loss was emotional for Rachel and her family, but it also made Rachel aware of her capacity to be a caregiver and welcome others into her home. Also, she knew that she was not alone in the process with MCB, her family, and other care providers. Combined with the support from her mother who cares for Risa overnight, as well as two or three other caregivers such as CNAs and nursing students, they are able to provide the care that Risa needs around the clock. According to Rachel, it feels like these caregivers become a part of the household and really part of a team.

Rachel and Risa also spend time together outside of the house. If Rachel needs to run errands or goes to visit family, she will take Risa along with her. She has a special chair for Risa to use outside of the house on walks, and Risa really enjoys going for car rides. At the house, the family has an outdoor pool and gazebo where Risa likes to sit in the shade.    

Since coming to live with the Bancroft family, Risa has made progress in managing her disabilities. Rachel was able to help get Risa’s seizure disorder under control, and Risa is able to feed herself and has begun to lift her head more on her own.

If anyone is considering becoming a caregiver, Rachel says to do it, as it is one of the best choices she has ever made. The role allows you to be at home, and according to her, it is similar to adding another person to your family. “I’ve never turned back, and I don’t know when I’ll stop,” she said.                                                                    

*The name of Rachel’s patient has been changed in this story in order to protect her privacy.

Massachusetts Commission for the Blind 

MCB provides the highest quality rehabilitation and social services to Massachusetts residents who are blind, leading to their independence and full community participation.