To view our CAREGivers of the Year, click here!
Vivian came to us having retired from her position with the City as a property assessment appraiser. She said she didn't have any dementia experience although felt she could learn. And I'm sure she didn't realize all she was about to learn. Vivian has a very positive attitude and is always eager to share her successes with us. She takes every opportunity to discuss personal challenges and ask questions, enabling her to serve our clients to the best of her ability.
Vivian also enjoys walking, cooking and baking, reading, crafts and needlework. It was some of these very hobbies and interests that were specifically requested by a client. We received a call from a family, whose mother had very high anxiety. In fact, they'd tried another service at one time and it didn't go well at all. After a few months, and finding it difficult to help their mom, they contacted us. We spent a great deal of time and energy meeting them and talking with them and learning all we could in order to help us to choose the perfect CAREGivers for her. It wasn't going to be an easy assignment, by any means—but that never deters us. It was going to take great communication, great effort and patience, some learning, and just the right personality. Oh, and the Caregiver had to like to walk and cook and read.
We made it clear that it wasn't going to be easy but we knew we could help them. Vivian was up for the challenge and went into it with positivity, kindness and compassion, acceptance, and an open heart with a big, bright smile attached. And of course, Vivian's warmth and kindness naturally came out the moment they met. It really did help to put our client at ease.
Through her time with Vivian, our client has continued to cope with her anxiety. She knows she has Vivian's support and it has given her added strength. Spending time together with Vivian, allows her to concentrate her focus on something other than her anxiety and when it creeps up, Vivian helps her get through it, in her gentle, caring way. Vivian has made it possible for the client's family to have a break—something very much needed by them. For a few hours each week, Vivian ensures her client is emotionally safe and walks with her—both literally and figuratively. She has truly made a difference in this clients' life and in the lives of her family. Where once they had little hope they've now been given some of this back. They have learned never to give up because even when it seems like nothing will ever help, someone like Vivian and all she brings with her, can be that one change that sparks the hope and promise once again. That can be the thing to make someone want to continue on and fight—which is exactly what this family has now done.
Hiring Caregivers is about finding personal character and we often are given a nugget of truth about an applicant's character when we talk to their personal reference. This happened to me when I spoke with Rita's reference. What I learned during that call has been proved repeatedly during her years of employment and is why Rita is being celebrated as our CAREGiver of the month!
A friend of Rita's had been seriously injured and hospitalized, and after a long period had passed, the family of the friend found out that Rita had made it her daily routine (for an extended period) to visit their family member at the hospital and she had never mentioned a thing. That is the character of a super Caregiver shining through.
Rita has a sparkly personality and loves to have fun and our clients enjoy this immensely. With one of her clients, Rita had listened carefully and discovered that he really loves old sci-fi movies. One day they found a film about Killer Rabbits and she and her clients were laughing so hard their sides hurt. That was an excellent afternoon for him.
Not every shift is full of laughs; often the goal for Rita is simply to build a bridge and connect. It doesn't seem to take her long at all, and she has formed a bond. A client with Alzheimer's was very agitated when hospitalized and his wife was very reluctant to introduce a new Caregiver but we knew Rita would be perfect for these visits. After her first visit, the wife wrote about Rita, 'She has such a wonderful way with him." It put the wife of a demented man at ease seeing how calm and comfortable Rita was with him. He was a stranger to Rita but she entered into his world and soothed him with kindness and gave his wife regular breaks for many months.
Rita's influence on our clients is incredibly positive. She knows what it takes to turn around someone's rough day and that is what Rita does day in and day out, using her CAREGiver super powers for good!
When choosing a Caregiver of the month, we look for qualities in an individual that include grace, dedication and going that extra mile in the service of our clients. It is with pleasure that I announce such a caregiver and present to you the Caregiver of the month for August: Shelley H.
Shelley came to Home Instead after a career as a social worker. It was with this background experience and general love for working with seniors that she brought such a great set of skills and wisdom to her work with her clients.
Grace and a generous disposition are at the core of Shelley’s personality along with the desire to help others. She knows how to listen, not just to the words that are being spoken but also to the fine and subtle details that are often missed. She knows how to listen for what is meant and what is at the heart of an issue. She listens to what a client wants and tries to provide meaningful experiences, whether it is going to a special concert or attending to the most basic needs of respect and dignity for a client who no longer is able to express themselves. Shelley does this with each of her clients. Although she is busy with her own family and grandchildren as well as her community, she still finds time to serve. Shelley has a positive outlook and energy as she provides consistent weekend and evening care and is willing to be flexible on more than one occasion to ensure a client’s needs are met.
There are a few challenging clients that Shelley has worked with but she is willing to do the hard work and be respectful of all. She is incredibly professional and thorough. Being a down to earth and kind, a great communicator with an eye for reporting details makes Shelley a great advocate for her clients. She is not afraid to say what is needed to be said. She takes the initiative and researches what would create the best experience for her senior. Yet she maintains humility and has proven to win over her clients as soon as they meet her. They recognize the gentle soul that she is and how she tries patiently and willingly to make those special connections with people she serves. We are thankful that Shelley is a part of our Home Instead family and are proud to honour the caring and compassionate work she provides every day.
I am pleased to acknowledge Kathy R as Caregiver of the month for December. Kathy joined the Home Instead Team in March of 2015 and we quickly saw that Kathy was an enthusiastic and willing caregiver and were able to place her anywhere that she was needed. In fact, within Kathy’s first month, she took on some of our more difficult situations and somehow not only made it work, but won over a client with a smile on her face and conviction in her heart!
It’s such a joy to present this award to Kathy as she demonstrates some superb qualities that make her the wonderful Caregiver she is.Kathy has exhibited reliability and dependability, often filling in for short notice shifts, as well as emergency shifts AND emergency overnight shifts. She has done so with nothing but a willingness to help people out and a positive attitude to make each client’s service all come together. Kathy continuously offers to help out in times such as this, always saying “if you need to rearrange my schedule, that’s okay, just let me know.” Her ability to roll with changes on short notice, is something that makes our tasks in the office a bit easier, but is not always easy for some people. We do recognize this and for that Kathy, we thank you for your trust and patience with change. You are always very courteous and pleasant when it happens, and that is your personality, isn’t it? For example, it isn’t uncommon for Kathy to offer to do something extra to help out a client – she recently raced around town like a mad woman to beat a delivery truck that was enroute to deliver a washing machine to a client’s home - the client had already sent the delivery away earlier that day because she happened to be unable to remember exactly who bought that thing. When we called and asked you to rush over asap you made it in record time, and convinced your client that yes, she DID order that washer and received the delivery with a smile. Although Kathy can handle challenging situations, she still manages to convey pleasantness and kindness with all her clients and us. She has a soft, gentle way about her that puts her clients at ease, even those who are having difficulty accepting help. Kathy patiently finds a way to help them adjust and to do so with dignity.
Her gentle and sincere spirit is something her clients notice upon meeting her. Kathy participated in our Be A Santa To A Senior program this past Christmas, showing again, her commitment to seniors. She also recruited her daughter and grandchildren showing them the importance of giving back. Kathy is definitely a giver and we are so fortunate she has chosen to give her time to Home Instead. Thank you Kathy, for being an amazing Caregiver who makes us all proud!
Home Instead offers free monthly newsletters with tips and advice for caregivers of elderly loved ones.