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2018 CAREGiver of the Year Charlene

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Our CAREGivers are leaders.                                                                

Charlene came to us with experience as a continuing care aid and a veterinary lab assistant. This combination of expertise in geriatric care and discipline in following routines and protocols defines Charlene's outstanding work. This CAREGiver balances the tension between personal attachment to her clients and selfless service to them. Her maturity and commitment to the Company enable her to keep this balance. rsz_charlene_m.jpg

Charlene makes the most of each moment, pairing confidence and humility as well as task and relationship. She told us of a time on shift when she used a hand blender to make squash soup. Her client entered the room as Charlene lifted the blender too high. With soup dripping off her glasses Charlene relished her client's laughter. Living Home Instead for the long run depends on a balance between work and joy!

In her first two years of service, Charlene served any client assigned and showed us how capable and committed to our mission she was. When Charlene came into the office to report or connect, she would pop into the owner's office to say hello and share her excitement to be part of the work and mission of Home Instead. We soon asked Charlene to become a full-time CAREGiver, and she has served in this capacity for the last four years. Giving full availability, five days a week, she understands that her assignments and schedule will vary and change as we move her where she is needed. Her commitment has enabled our company to grow and given us the capacity to take on clients who need daily service.

Daily Charlene prepares, knowing each client's care plan and tasks. Sensitively she gets tasks done and cheerfully keeps up routines, even when a client doesn't feel like it or is resistant due to cognitive impairment. Charlene quickly forms relationships with each person she meets; she makes them feel at ease, builds connections and presents professional confidence. Our seniors tell us they feel genuinely cared for and respected as she listens to their concerns and goals. Her thoughtful gestures are creative and many as she hustles to keep a household running, or helps new clients accept the idea of a CAREGiver in their life.

Charlene takes a lead CAREGiver role in homes requiring complex care and larger teams of CAREGivers. She knows when to call for support and routinely reports. She advises when improvements to the client's care plan are needed and identifies issues that require attention such as training for newer CAREGivers. We often utilize her skill and confidence to help a new client settle in.

For six and a half years, Charlene has fully invested herself in Living Home Instead. While serving as a valued CAREGiver, she has collaborated with our team to help us refine our best practices and create effective systems. Charlene's dedication to our mission, her skilled care, self-discipline and personal balance are the leadership traits we esteem.

There are many stories and perhaps this one illustrates how Charlene become so valuable to our Home Instead team.

How does a Home Instead Owner help a new Administrative Assistant grasp the ways our CAREGivers give from the heart to provide high-quality care for our clients? We sent Marina to watch our CAREGiver, Charlene, in action! Marina's reflection follows.

I was privileged to shadow Charlene one morning when I was first hired at Home Instead. I observed the grace and inspiring talent that this CAREGiver had with one particular client she had been serving every morning.

On arrival, it was quiet and still within Vera's care home room. Slowly and gently with a soft voice, Charlene began to welcome Vera to the new day. She softly woke her, soothing her with gentle and reassuring strokes to her arms and holding her frail, pale hands.

A voice declared abruptly, 'NO!' but Charlene was not startled. Rather, she gently allowed her client to choose her own time to greet the day. Playing her favourite hymns on the CD player and opening her blinds halfway behind her bed, Charlene tenderly set the room. Finally, with eyes wide and rising from under her covers, Vera saw her CAREGiver's face and a huge smile emerged. It was going to be a good morning.

This familiar and gentle dance between client and CAREGiver and the trust that I witnessed was inspiring to me. A small, fragile but bright smile came shining through Vera's tiny body because of the care she received from Charlene. Vera knew her and trusted she would be safe in Charlene's hands.

Vera was known to scream, sometimes because she was in pain, but often because it was her only course of communication within her high level of dementia. Meeting her needs and accepting her was all Vera needed, and Charlene delivered precisely that. It required a great deal of patience, including taking an hour and a half to help her eat breakfast. When her daughter arrived to have lunch with her Mom, she also needed Charlene's patient and supportive ear as she anxiously inquired about her Mother. This day I saw Charlene's immense capacity to extend herself for this family.

In the office, I later read the daughter's messages of praise for Charlene. "I don't know how we could have managed this journey without her… I would have been a mess… Mom would have been a mess." "Charlene is the angel that came to visit. She is a part of the family, like a sister." "When Vera sees Charlene in the morning she says to her, 'You're mine.'"

Charlene continued to be an advocate for Vera. She even served her client on Christmas morning so that her daughter could be with family on that day. In total, Charlene served Vera for 3 years before she passed, a few months shy of her 98th birthday.

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We are grateful Marina had the opportunity to witness Charlene's excellent work with Vera. This experience helped our Administrative Assistant appreciate what it means to share one's heart as a CAREGiver.

We know that CAREGiving is not for everyone. It is a gift to be shared, a craft to be refined over time. CAREGiving is equal parts compassion, being a non-anxious presence, problem solving and sharing the joys and wonders of the simple things of life. Charlene has, over the years, excelled at doing just that: enhancing life for her clients and supporting families.

Tonight we honor our leading CAREGiver, Charlene McArthur as the Home Instead Senior Care, Saskatoon's, CAREGiver of the Year.

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