2011 CAREGiver of the Year Irma

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Our nominee for the Mary Steibel CAREGiver of the Year Award for 2011 is Irma Loewen.     When she first applied to work with us in 2008, she impressed us through the application process as someone who is attentive, thorough and sensitive.  When we learned her age, we were concerned. We wondered if, at age 71, she would be able to do all the things we require of our CAREGivers.   We did not need to worry.   As we learned with last year’s winner, age is a state of mind.  Irma has proven to be our most reliable, resourceful staff and has served over 3000 hours.

Irma’s service with each of her clients is a wonderful example of how to build trust, take the lead and share your heart as a CAREGiver. A few stories come to mind to illustrate:

Build Trust​

Over two years ago, when Sylvia and Stan needed some help to remain independent, we matched them with Irma.  Irma came alongside this couple to provide home help and to engage Sylvia, who is living with dementia.  It took a while for Irma to build trust with Sylvia, who felt that she could do things on her own and did not really need the help.  Irma persisted and respectfully, gently served them and within a short period of time won Sylvia over. 
When Stan was hospitalized, Irma would take Sylvia to visit with her husband.  Part of the outing would often include some time outside to decompress from the stress of Stan’s condition.  One afternoon, Irma invited Sylvia to go for a walk in the park beside the hospital.  Sitting at a park bench near the playground, Irma asked Sylvia to tell stories of when she used to bring her kids to this park, complete with merry go round and mini Ferris Wheel.   Irma’s sensitivity to Sylvia in the moment and the gentle invitation to reminisce and tell stories is one of the reasons her clients and their families are so thankful for Irma’s care. 
When Stan died, Irma walked with Sylvia through the grieving process and continued encouraging Sylvia to be involved in meaningful activity.  Since Sylvia loves physical exercise and working in the garden, Irma takes Sylvia to an exercise class at a local swimming pool and together they volunteer in the greenhouse of the Sherbrooke Centre, a long term care facility.   Together, they have provided 22 hours of volunteer services.  Her client is Sherbrooke’s first volunteer with dementia.  When you give Irma praise about these things she says “oh it is good for me too.”
 

Take the Lead​

Irma is intentional and thoughtful in her caregiving approach, style and methods with each of her clients – continuously looking for ways she can engage and stimulate them.  She is often brainstorming new activities to try, using our resources and finding her own to keep this fresh and interesting.  Trips to the library, gathering craft ideas from our staff, accessing community resources and the list goes on.  She is not “stuck in a rut” but committed to keeping this fresh for her clients.  She always has their best interests at heart.
Irma is an EXCELLENT communicator. She is committed to timely and thorough communication with the office.  She pays attention to the smallest details with her schedule and with what the client may need.  Irma is quick to follow-up and make sure that things are taken care of.

Share Your Heart

We have been serving a client named Ruth for nearly as long as our office has been open.  Ruth has moderate dementia.  Our CAREGivers, and especially Irma, have become quite attached to Ruth as we’ve journeyed with her from living alone in an assisted living facility after her husband’s death to her transition to an extended care facility.  We currently serve Ruth six hours each day, to help with morning and evening routines.
Last Christmas one of our staff explained to Irma that we would probably only send one person to Ruth on Christmas day, and asked her which shift would work better for her - morning or evening.  Irma cut them off and said that she would love to do a double header on the 25th to spend Christmas with Ruth.  

We love the way she gently works with her clients.  Tucking Rose into bed, reassuring her in her state of confusion and fear due to dementia, making sure that she is taken care of the other 6 days of the week she is not there.  She is willing to try almost anything – engaging Sylvia in so much beautiful and stimulating life activity and impacting the community with her clients!
We are also pleased to recommend Irma for the Mary Steibel CAREGiver of the Year award for her work with a non-profit group she founded, after her mother had a negative experience in a personal care home.  Irma, along with her sisters and friends established FACE - Families Advocating for Compassionate Environments In Special Care Homes.  The FACE Mission Statement is: To ensure that residents in their Special Care Homes in the Saskatoon Health Region are nurtured compassionately in a safe environment by working in cooperation with families and supporters and all levels of government. 
Through her own experience, Irma is an advocate for clients who live in care facilities.  She is determined to ensure her clients receive the best care possible

Irma Loewen, Canada's CAREGiver of the year!
Not only is Irma Loewen the 2011 CAREGiver of the Year for Saskatoon, she also picked up the award as top CAREGiver for all of Canada.  Loewen was recognized this week for her commitment and service to the older adults who are local clients of Home Instead Senior Care, the world’s largest provider of non-medical home care and companionship services for seniors.

“CAREGivers like Irma are the core of our business,” said local owner Karen Charyna.  “Without dedicated CAREGivers, we couldn’t provide the superior quality of service to seniors that sets our company apart from others.  CAREGivers are the foundation of Home Instead Senior Care and provide the support that helps older adults remain in their homes longer than they otherwise could.”

“For the foreseeable future, there will be an increased demand for non-medical services for older adults,” said Charyna.  “At the same time, Boomers are retiring and looking for a meaningful way to spend their time.  What better way than to have young, energetic seniors provide care for the older generation.  Irma exemplifies those active retirees who have decided to serve others in their next chapter of life.”

Loewen was nominated by clients, their family members and the administrative staff.  She was selected from the 60 CAREGivers in the Saskatoon office to receive the local CAREGiver of the Year award.  For the national award, Irma was chosen from the nominees representing the 30 offices across Canada.

Home Instead Senior Care services include specialized Alzheimer’s and dementia care, companionship, meal preparation, light housework, medication reminders, incidental transportation, errands and shopping.  CAREGivers are screened, bonded and insured, and have successfully completed criminal background checks.  The company has more than 65,000 CAREGivers in more than 950 offices in Canada, the United States and 14 additional countries.

“Balancing the demands of child-rearing and careers while taking care of their senior loved ones can take its toll on a family,” Charyna said.  “Home Instead CAREGivers can serve as a respite to families and help seniors remain independent for as long as possible.”

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