Every month we like to honor those individuals on our team who contribute a little extra, even beyond the normal exceptional service all our CAREGivers provide. Return frequently to see who is every month's new CAREGiver of the Month!
“Sweet, caring, and reliable”, are the words that Tabitha, our Staffing Coordinator, chooses when asked about our CG of the Month, Amber Lukas. Amber came to us late last year when her job search led her to our door. She has always had an interest in the healthcare field and wants to someday follow in her family’s footsteps by becoming a nurse (not just one or two family members, but most of her female relatives are nurses).
When asked why she loves what she does, she states, “I like to make elderly people happy. The little things, like putting nail polish on them, makes them smile.” She loves their smiles and laughter. Since her first day working at Home Instead, she has seen the changes in herself and in her clients. She knows that she has changed for the positive. Her clients, however, have changed in both ways, some getting better – stronger – with her help, while others have declined in their abilities. “Put yourself in their shoes,” she guides, “you become their arms and legs and you have to know that you are making a difference in their lives.”
Jen, our Director of Client Care, gives a heartfelt testimony about Amber, “Amber is amazing! She has a heart of gold and works so hard to do the right thing. She always wants the best for her clients and gives them 110%. She always has a smile and is always open to any new thoughts or ideas that will help her be better with her clients. She is a fantastic person to work with.” Within the 110%, DeAnna, our Engagement and Retention Coordinator, tells us that, “Amber is always reading up on Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, etc. She loves being a CG, it is so rewarding to her.”
Amber’s love for her clients shows through all the time. However, she says that, “even on those days, when it is hard to get up and go to your job, you have to put your mind to it, put a smile on your face, and be yourself. It takes dedication and perseverance. Some clients are in tough situations, maybe declining, so it is important for you to stay positive, have faith, and make them more comfortable.” She goes on to say, “Build trust, get to know them, and have lots of compassion.” She reiterates her words, “Always remember that you are making a difference.”
As a company, one of our goals in to make a difference in the lives we touch. We are proud to have Amber as one of those ‘difference-makers’. Way-To- Go-Amber!
Our May CAREGiver of the Month is a treasure that was found at a Brookline Job Fair. Denise Lefkowitz was looking to transition her career from the retail world into the healthcare field. She has a dream and passion to become a nurse and thought that Home Instead would be a good stepping stone into this field. Of her first week of training she says, “I knew I had made the right decision. Everyone was so organized and especially welcoming.” Home Instead truly gained a gem when Denise came on-board in June of 2015.
Tabitha, our Staffing Coordinator, actually had the opportunity to work with Denise when Tabitha transitioned into the office from CAREGiving, “I had the privilege to work with Denise when I ‘handed over’ one of my clients to her. I was sad to let go but Denise took over, and seeing her first hand – I was just super impressed by her. She is what I would consider to be a 10-Star CAREGiver!” Since being in the office on the Staffing Team, Tabitha has seen Denise on a different level, “She is a go getter and is always there when we need her. She knows her limitations, yet she still continues to go above and beyond our expectations. Can’t thank her enough for all that she does and continues to do. To have the opportunity to work with such an intriguing woman as Denise is absolutely a pure honor.”
Denise tells a heartfelt story about a particularly lovely client that she had who actually helped Denise understand deep in her soul why she became a CAREGiver … to Serve. Unintentionally, this very special client taught Denise how to deal with someone in their home. In her many classes on her journey to become a nurse, Denise has learned many ‘text-book’ ways to – for example – give a shower. She boldly states, “Throw out the text-book on showering! My sweet client was very nervous with showering, so she unknowingly taught me how to adjust my ways according to each person’s personality. I just hope I made difference in her life.” (Yes, Denise, you were an important part of her life!) Denise still feels the heartbreak of losing this lovely lady.
Jen, our Director of Client Care, had a recent experience that makes Denise stand-out amongCAREGivers, “There was an issue one night where the night shift CAREGiver did not show up to the shift. Denise, who had been on shift since 3pm, graciously offered to stay until 5am the next morning when we were able to get another CAREGiver there. Denise just goes above and beyond without a complaint and steps up to the plate in every direction.”
Carole, our After Hours Staffing Manager, echoes the thoughts and feelings of Jen, and all of the other staff here, “Denise is amazing! She is always dependable, goes above and beyond in everything she does. She is very clear and precise in her updates on clients and really shows a great deal of caring and compassion for every client she is with.”
Denise has been with many Home Instead clients and shares this advice with others who have a passion for caregiving – or maybe this advice would better serve those who are not quite sure of their desire to be in the caregiving field, “Caregiving is not the easiest job in the world, you need to do a lot of soul searching and it’s not something to go into lightly.” She continues her advice by saying, “Ask Questions!”
In her down-time, Denise loves to sing and participate in karaoke. She loves to hang out with friends and has a zest for learning. She admits to ‘playing the piano badly’ and she is thankful to have special people in her life.
Marlo, one of our CARECounselors, shares that, “Denise is an awesome CAREGiver and has taken on some pretty difficult short-term clients without complaint, coming away with lots of experience. She's a real credit to the company”. DeAnna, our Recruitment and Retention Coordinator restates what has been the general thoughts of all of us, “She is truly one of the most loving woman I am honored to know.”
Denise thoughtfully gives another recommendation to all CAREGivers, “Don’t change your own personality to satisfy a client. You stick to your personality and beliefs. Be yourself. If for some reason the client doesn’t like you, then – as I’ve been told – ‘you can’t please everyone all of the time’.”It is unanimous here at Home Instead that Denise’s personality is that of Awesomeness! We are more than blessed to have her in our family of CAREGivers, and we know that the clients that she serves will be blessed to know her as well!
CAREGiver of the Month – April
CAREGiver of the Month – February
CAREGiver of the Month – January
CAREGiver of the Month – December
CAREGiver of the Month – November
CAREGiver of the Month – October
CAREGiver of the Month – September
CAREGiver of the Month – August
CAREGiver of the Month – July
CAREGiver of the Month – June
CAREGiver of the Month – May
CAREGiver of the Month – April
CAREGiver of the Month – March
CAREGiver of the Month – February
CAREGiver of the Month – January
CAREGiver of the Month – December
CAREGiver of the Month – November
CAREGiver of the Month – October
Natalie was chosen to be CAREGiver of the Month because of her many talents and traits. Our staff members describe her with words such as ‘dedicated’, ‘professional’, and ‘remarkable’, just to name a few. Natalie seems to have been blessed with compassion for her fellow human being from a very young age, following in her parents’ footsteps with the deep-rooted desire to help people.
CAREGiver of the Month – September
CAREGiver of the Month – August
Miguel is not only CG of the Month for August, but is celebrating his first Anniversary with Home Instead Senior Care. Miguel has been such a marvelous asset to our CAREGiving Team during his year with us. During his first week of training, he brought a professional and congenial personality to the group.
Judith began with Home Instead Senior Care in October of 2009 and has considered us one of her families ever since. In her almost six years with Home Instead she has been a delight to her many clients, sharing her jokes, compassion, and infectiously dynamic personality. “She is dedicated to her clients and when she sees something that needs to be done, she does it,” states Cindy, Family Resource Specialist for Home Instead Senior Care.
Raising her five-year-old son had taught her much about CAREGiving. In the everyday mother and son interactions, Chance taught his mother, Emily Greenleaf, how to be patient, humble and understanding. Her clients reap the benefits of what she has learned from motherhood. When Emily is not taking care of her clients, she has plenty to take care of at home. She and Chance have two dogs, three cats and a fish. They enjoy spending time at the zoo and visiting Tucson Reptile Rescue. It seems people aren’t all Emily is interested in helping. When she’s not laughing with and loving the people she works with, she’s spreading that love to the animal kingdom as well. Before she became a CAREGiver, Emily was a machinist. As a machinist, there is not much interaction with people, of course. While CAREGiving, Emily enjoys the amount of connection she has with the people she works with.
“While CAREGiving, I can show love and compassion. I get love back too. They light up because they’re happy to see me. And I’m happy to see them. It changes my entire day!” explains Emily. Emily became a CAREGiver because she loves people and their stories. “Who has better stories than those who have lived for seventy or eighty years? If I can listen to their stories, make them smile and connect with them, I have done my job. I would do anything for them. I love and respect them,” says Emily. Among her favorites are the stories about how people met each other. A client whose wife had passed away told her the story of how they met. Emily smiled at the twinkle in his eyes. “She was the bee’s knees,” he told her.
“I think it’s beautiful the way men light up when they talk about their wives. I don’t see that very often these days,” Emily explained. When they’re not talking in depth about the things that matter in life, Emily enjoys playing card games and reading with her clients.
It’s the fun interaction she has with them that Emily enjoys the most. Her goal is to make sure they’re happy. “Laughter and happiness are what brings quality to life,” states Emily. Even if they’re not happy and she can’t make them happy, Emily is there to be a shoulder to cry on and let them know they’re not alone.
Nancy Barnwell, Client CARE Manager at Home Instead Senior Care, describes Emily as, “Always willing to go the extra mile for her clients. She is always upbeat, and makes her clients feel they are her top priority.” For Emily, they are the most important people in her life when she’s not spending time with Chance and their beloved pets. As a CAREGiver, it’s not about her, it’s about them.
- Kim Worcester
November2014 CAREGiver of the Month – Therese Wickramasekera "Raised in a convent in Sri Lanka from the time she was three years old and learning how to care and serve others from Mother Teresa, makes Therese Wickramasekera an outstanding CAREGiver.”
Therese is from a family of ten, making CAREGiving a part of her life blood. There was always someone to take care of whether she was in the convent or at home with her family. If she had her way, she would never stop taking care of those in need.
Therese spent seven years of her childhood in the Sri Lanka convent because her father was clearing remote land for a farm and her mother didn’t want her to be exposed to wild animals. On her tenth birthday she came to America with her family. After winning the Hoosier State Scholarship, she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education. She then entered Mother Teresa’s Order, Missionaries of Charity, in 1979 in the Bronx of New York City.
Traveling the world, from Rome to Naples, Italy, to Calcutta, India Therese knew nothing else but serving others in orphanages. While in Calcutta, Therese became ill and collapsed. As she explains, “In American words, I was burned out.” As Mother Teresa took care of her, putting her in her own bed, she prayed that Therese would meet a nice Christian man since she had so much love to give away. But all that Therese could think about was getting back to work taking care of people. She was then sent to the American southwest and eventually followed a dear friend, “a staunch Baptist,” to Tucson, Arizona. Therese started CAREGiving after giving up teaching. For seven years she worked with disabled children and adults. A friend of hers worked with Home Instead Senior Care and when she met the people in the office, she really liked them and looked forward to another outlet to CARE for others.
“You’re the queen of the house. I’m here to serve you,” is what Therese tells her clients, following her moto, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, giving your best for Jesus.”
Is it any wonder Therese is an amazing, one of a kind CAREGiver? She enjoys getting to know her clients on a personal basis and being there to be supportive and pray over them, even silently. Her goal is to make their lives as pleasant as possible. She is there to CARE for their needs.
It doesn’t matter where in the world people are or what their age is. They all have the same wants and needs. As Therese explains, “They just have different flavors, like ice cream.”
Therese, who loves to travel, continues to return to Sri Lanka taking needed items to seventy-five family members and several orphanages. “My passion is to be Santa Claus. I go to yard sales, thrift shops and clearance sales to collect clothing, shoes and linens. I vacuum seal them and ship them home,” explains Therese.
According to Evie Stamps, Director of Client Care Services, “Therese truly has the heart of a CAREGiver and a seemingly endless energy supply. Her devotion to serving others is second to none. Compassionate in her advocacy for her client's well- being, Therese possesses all the attributes of a Home Instead CAREGiver.”
- Kim Worcester
October 2014 CAREGiver of the Month – Harry Moulin
"Because of his passion for both and his desire to help people, he feels like he never works a day in his life.”
What do CAREGiving and managing restaurants have in common? To Harry Moulin, there is very little difference. Because of his passion for both and his desire to help people, he feels like he never works a day in his life.
Harry has been helping people since he was in college. In 1968, he was given room and board for taking care of another college student, Jeff, who had muscular dystrophy and was in a wheel chair. Harry treasured the time he spent with Jeff helping him get to and from classes. They became close friends.
After college Harry and his wife went into the restaurant business, owning a couple of seafood and steak restaurants in Downeast Maine. When the time came to sell their restaurants and retire, Harry set out to do something he had always wanted to do. He was fueled by the wonderful hospice caregivers who had helped with his mother-in-law. They encouraged him to become a caregiver. He discovered Home Instead Senior Care online and, after going into the office and talking to Tormay Newman, Director, CAREGiver Education & Training, he knew that’s where he belonged. “We hit it off right away,” remembers Harry. Some of Harry’s clients have become like grandfathers to him. One ninety-three year old gentleman likes to attend the University of Arizona humanities classes. “We take his car and go to classes, and it’s the best thing I have ever done. I get to sit in on these classes with him,” says Harry. His client uses his cane to get to class and always has his hat, jacket and nice shirt and slacks on. “He naps for the first hour of the three hour class, but he enjoys getting out in public, and everyone loves him. After class he talks with all the students, who are sixty years old and up.” For Harry, just being with his clients is the most important thing. Some don’t have comprehension of what is going on, so to be with them and to be able to take the time to do what needs to be done with no pressure is the beauty of CAREGiving for Harry. “The plus side,” he explains in his soft spoken voice, “is that we give their loved ones a break.” Comparing the restaurant business with CAREGiving, Harry just sees people who need company, cleanliness and fresh food. He is a kind and caring man no matter where he may cross your path. As Marlo Simons, CARECounselor with Home Instead Senior Care, shared, “I delivered a gourmet cupcake to him for his birthday, and he actually sent me a card in the mail to thank me for it. I've never received a thank you card from any other CAREGiver. I was really surprised and thought that if he went the extra mile to thank me, makes me feel good about what he must do for his clients.”
- Kim Worcester
September 2014 CAREGiver of the Month – Blanca Acedo
"I try to help my clients enjoy their life too, and get them to smile and be happy for a little bit. If there is something to help them be happy, I do it. A smile is my favorite part. I love their sweet smiles.”
As if having six children to care for wasn’t enough, she decided to become a CAREGiver. Blanca Acedo was talking to a friend one day who was a CAREGiver with Home Instead Senior Care. When she learned that it was a Christian owned company, she decided it was the place for her, especially since she has always loved being with her elders. When Blanca was in high school she was hired to help a lady with housecleaning. Their relationship became much more than that of an employee and employer. They ended up going to lunch and shopping together. They shared their lives and have remained in touch for over twenty years.
“I didn’t realize at the time I was a CAREGiver. I just thought I was a housecleaner,” remembers Blanca.
She used to get nervous each time she met a new client, but Blanca says, “Not anymore. Each one is special in their own way, and so nice. We really get close to each other.”
According to Becky Ratliff-Bosch, Client CARE Manager with Home Instead Senior Care, Blanca is, “very caring and open to receiving the information needed to provide quality care to each particular client.”
Blanca enjoys the conversations she has with her clients. They talk to her about their children and grandchildren, and she likes hearing their stories. One client asked her to choose something to read to her. Blanca found a story her granddaughter had written about her grandparents and how they first met. They had grown up without much money and the grandfather had written a check for $10,000 and had given it to his beloved saying, “One day I will make enough money so you can go cash this check.” She never cashed it, but the couple did end up being very successful, owning their own business. The twelve year old granddaughter had written about them for a school assignment because they inspired her.
Blanca has taught Sunday school for fourteen years and appreciates that working for Home Instead Senior Care allows her to be in church on Sundays and home during the week when her children get out of school. She enjoys spending time with her family, watching her son play softball and her husband play the drums, guitar and saxophone at church. When she has a few spare moments, she enjoys reading her Bible, Christian articles, and scrapbooking.
Blanca explains, “I want to live my life and not just watch it go by. I try to help my clients enjoy their life too, and get them to smile and be happy for a little bit. If there is something to help them be happy, I do it. A smile is my favorite part. I love their sweet smiles.”
Blanca couldn’t say enough about how happy she is to be a part of Home Instead Senior Care. “Every time I walk into the office everyone knows my name. The staff always have smiles on their faces and they are always helping each other. I love working with a company where they truly care.”
- Kim Worcester
August 2014 CAREGiver of the Month – Mary Ann Musso "She encourages others to, “Be patient with them when they don’t remember things. With their kids away and sometimes out of state, they need help. They need a friend.”
In her twenties she moved from a dairy farm in Pennsylvania to work as a secretary in New York City at the Empire State Building. She migrated into the banking business, and Mary Ann Musso found she preferred working with her older customers.
Currently, if she wasn’t working as a CAREGiver, Mary Ann would volunteer to care for them. It is her passion, along with volunteering at the soup kitchen twice a week, gardening and reading.
Mary Ann remembers a very special relationship she had with one of her clients, “She was a good talker and I’m a good listener. She traveled a lot. These people have rich history. She was a music teacher and they named the high school auditorium after her.” While Mary Ann enjoys hearing people’s stories, she also appreciates engaging in lively conversation. One of her clients was a staunch Republican and directed the choir at a Methodist church. Mary Ann is a Catholic, and her client told her that when she was young “a Catholic was as bad as a Democrat.” In Mary Ann’s opinion, “The feisty ones live the longest!”
No matter how feisty they are, Mary Ann’s goals are to make her clients’ lives as easy as possible. She wants to be sure they are as comfortable and happy as they can be. She encourages others to, “Be patient with them when they don’t remember things. With their kids away and sometimes out of state, they need help. They need a friend.”
According to Joanne Baird, Payroll Assistant with Home Instead Senior Care Tucson, Mary Ann is just the right person for the job. “She is such a professional every day. She anticipates needs and is 100% with the client, connecting on all levels, and has a good sense of humor. I would love to have her care for my family.”
Since it’s not always about just getting a job done, but more about how it’s done, Mary Ann draws from her experience in meeting the needs of others. When her clients are in need of encouragement, she distracts them and talks about something different, like their pet or something pleasant happening in the world. If need be, she will turn on the Lawrence Welk Show because music can be so soothing to some.
In Mary Ann’s words, “It is not about us, it’s about them.”
- Kim Worcester
July 2014 CAREGiver of the Month – Lou Ann Urness "...From painting to pottery and all kinds of sewing, crocheting and knitting in between, Lou Ann Urness enjoyed the time she spent teaching crafts in schools and senior communities."For as long as she can remember, arts and crafts have been her passion. From painting to pottery and all kinds of sewing, crocheting and knitting in between, Lou Ann Urness enjoyed the time she spent teaching crafts in schools and senior communities. She took pleasure in the nurturing aspect as well as the crafts, so in February 2014 Lou Ann decided to become a CAREGiver with Home Instead Senior Care - Tucson. Her current full time client is from Germany. Lou Ann enjoys bringing books from the library about her homeland. “We talk about castles as I knit. She watches me knit and remembers the castles. We look through books about Octoberfests and different caverns,” comments Lou Ann. One of the goals is to keep her client engaged until she is ready to take a nap. “We enjoy conversations about German food - cookies and sausages. She remembers baking cookies for her mom and her sisters,” explains Lou Ann.
As Lou Ann paints, her client gives her color directions and input. She also participates in the gardening, as Lou Ann brings the plants inside for relief from the heat. She watches and they talk while Lou Ann plants and tends the flowers. Safety is the focus due to dementia. According to Lou Ann, “Safety is number one, and then making her laugh every day. I try to make her laugh about something, like watching the birds fight over the birdfeeder.” When CAREGiving, Lou Ann recommends patience. “Don’t take things personally. They may be used to doing things a certain ways. Don’t try to teach them new tricks.” Lou Ann practices what she preaches. According to Bonnie Martinez-Hatley, Staffing Manager with Home Instead Senior Care – Tucson, Lou Ann displays an array of attributes, including patience, empathy and understanding. “She is also reliable and trustworthy,” says Bonnie. There are times when Lou Ann’s client needs encouragement, and she tries to redirect her if she is down and missing her husband. She has fears of getting old and being alone, so they talk about those fears and Lou Ann helps her with a plan. “She feels more secure if she has a plan,” notes Lou Ann. Though her client is not interested in creating pottery, Lou Ann is creating an enjoyable and secure environment by molding experiences of pleasure in the arts as they spend time together.
- Kim Worcester
June 2014 CAREGiver of the Month – Anna Martinez Helping her clients provides the types of rewards that aren't always easy to explain. A client she became especially close to once told her, "I love you. You're different from everybody else."“When my dad’s health started deteriorating, I got certified in CAREGiving. I thought, Who better to take care of him than his own daughter? Anna Martinez is still caring for her father, and when she took a class on dementia at Home Instead Senior Care – Tucson, she knew it was the place for her.
Helping her clients provides the types of rewards that aren’t always easy to explain. A client she became especially close to once told her, “I love you. You’re different from everybody else.” This particular client was experiencing improving memory, and Anna was thrilled to share the good news with her daughter. She demonstrated this when she was able to request her favorite foods and tell her daughter what she had eaten that day. Anna’s main goals, when spending time with her clients, are to make them as comfortable as possible and to end the shift with them smiling. “There is nothing better than making them smile. I can’t believe I get paid for what I do. I’m so happy when I get to work, as well as when I head home because I enjoy being with them.”
Complimenting them and getting them outside are some ways Anna makes the time she spends with her clients enjoyable. She shows them she is genuinely interested in what they are talking about by sincerely listening. “I just love talking with them.”
This positive attitude shines through Anna so much that DeAnna Mancini, Recruitment and Retention Coordinator with Home Instead Senior Care – Tucson commented, “If anybody could take care of my own mother, it would be her.”
For Anna, no matter how much patience she has, she says a CAREGiver should have more. “Put yourself in their shoes, not once in a while, but every day. You must remember to do that each time you’re with them. Whatever their physical conditions are, I think about how I would want to be treated. If I couldn’t see a thing, how would I want to be treated? How would I want someone to treat my dad? With respect, care and encouragement.”
When Anna is not keeping up with her clients or cleaning her house, she is keeping up with her two teenage sons, or they’re keeping up with her. She enjoys playing basketball with them, swimming and running. She loves it when she can talk her sons into running with her. In fact, her oldest son who is 15 usually runs with her. No wonder Anna brings so much enthusiasm and energy to her clients!
- Kim Worcester
May 2014 CAREGiver of the Month – Kathy Zubrant “Don’t pick at them if they are struggling with something. Be up front and honest, and with the help of God, they can get through it,” encourages Kathy.A “happy, proactive CAREGiver who loves her job,” is how Evie Stamps, Director of Client Care at Home Instead Senior Care Tucson, describes Kathy Zubrant. She hadn’t planned to become a CAREGiver, but stepped into it out of necessity after her father-in-law had a massive stroke. Kathy needed to take care of him, and that’s when it clicked for her. She found she liked caring for people who needed help.
“I loved taking care of my children when they were babies and these adults need lots of compassion and help too,” Kathy explains.
After caring for her father-in-law, Kathy went on to work in a nursing home. “I treated them with respect and took good care of them, showing them love. They need that like any of us. Just because they’re older, or something is wrong, doesn’t mean they aren’t equal to us. They ARE us. We should treat them the way we would want to be treated.”
Kathy tends to be long-term with her clients. One, she fondly remembers spending two years with. “We became close and did everything together. She even loaned me books she’d read, and we talked like we were girlfriends.” Kathy feels the age difference doesn’t matter. “We were just women being friends.”
Her current client of three years has come a long way on the road to recovery. In need of care 24/7, Kathy truly believes he wouldn’t be alive today if not for the Home Instead Senior Care team being with him and helping him along.
Making her clients comfortable and happy are Kathy’s goals each day. If they are struggling, she helps them to think about other things. She meets their needs and makes sure they are well taken care of the way they need to be. “Don’t pick at them if they are struggling with something. Be up front and honest, and with the help of God, they can get through it,” encourages Kathy.
Over the years, Kathy has learned to be balanced with her “work time.” As a CAREGiver, it was easy for her to neglect herself. Now she emphasizes the importance of putting on her own oxygen mask, so to speak, in order to offer quality CAREGiving to her clients. After some time spent tending her flower garden, visiting with her mother and caring for her home, she returns to the job she loves refreshed and ready to cultivate the seeds of encouragement and respect.
- Kim Worcester
April 2014 CAREGiver of the Month – Jim Nickols As he chatted with and prayed for hurting people, Jim realized his true calling...
Being ordained as a minister provided his pathway to becoming a CAREGiver. Jim Nickols’ first assignment as a young minister was to work with his congregation members who were in the hospital. It was during these visits that he recognized how much he enjoyed spending time with people in need. As he chatted with and prayed for hurting people, Jim realized his true calling.Jim has been with Home Instead Senior Care—Tucson since 2003. He has experienced many things in his life, including working for the Federal Government in San Francisco, but 82 year old Jim, recalls, “I have been CAREGiving since 1971.” Maybe that life-long experience and genuine love for people is why he is so appreciated by those he works for and by those he works with. Although “work” is not the word Jim uses when he describes the time he spends with his clients. While meeting with one of his favorite clients, Charles, Jim remembers, “We got along so well. We just clicked. We talked about his military career with the Army and his working experience in the mining industry.” Jim enjoys coming alongside his clients and helping to make them happier. His asks them questions about themselves and what they would like to do. He does his best to make their wishes come true, while encouraging them to do what needs to be done—whether its appointments they need to get to, therapy they need to work on or eating the right kinds of foods. When he’s not with a client, you’ll often find Jim putting together a jigsaw puzzle or working a crossword. He enjoys the mental challenge of both. And it’s a plus if he spends time with a client who enjoys them as well. These activities offer a great environment for visiting with them, inspiring new and interesting subjects to talk about. “He's a very gentle and caring CAREGiver, very willing to jump in and assist whenever needed. He is always smiling whenever I see him,” comments Marlo Simmons, CARECounselor with Home Instead Senior Care—Tucson. His bright and constant smile would be the first thing you would notice if you met Jim. In his countenance you would see the Golden Rule that governs his life, whether working for the Federal Government or coming alongside and helping people achieve their goals, “Do to others what you would have them do to you.”
- Kim Worcester
March 2014 CAREGiver of the Month – Georgina Lee Her motto is, “I treat my clients like I would treat my own parents,”
Her motto is, “I treat my clients like I would treat my own parents,” and Georgina Lee is no stranger to taking care of her family. In fact, her whole family has taken care of the elders within the family, so it was a natural progression for her. She became state certified in care giving and managed an adult home. Longing for more one-on-one time with clients, she became a CAREGiver with Home Instead Senior Care. When she is not creating a healthy, loving environment with her precious clients or her family members, Georgina is busy making crocheted blankets, towels and pot holders. She enjoys arts and crafts, especially for the sake of gift-giving. Her love of games has come in handy with clients, who also appreciate a good round of competition. She played regularly with a client who liked to win, and who was very good natured about showing no mercy. “It is good for them to play games,” Georgina commented. She also helped and encouraged this particular client to do her exercises. She was faithful well into her 90’s. She even did them while sitting in her chair until she could do them no more. Her goal was to stay independent as long as possible, and she knew the key was keeping her mind and her body active with Georgia’s help.
It is important to Georgina to always make her clients aware that she is there to respect them. She allows them to do what they can for themselves. She is there to help with what’s needed, but is sure to let them know they can still be active and productive, because that is important to them. “I always encourage them by letting them know that they are doing very good for their age and medical condition,” says Georgina. “It puts smiles on all their faces. I point out all the things they can still do. They appreciate someone noticing that they can still do quite a bit by themselves.” When a client doesn’t want to eat, Georgina will entice him with the need to know his opinion, “Taste it and let me know what you think. Tell me what would make it better.” And she genuinely listens. As Jen Taylor, Client CARE Manager of Home Instead Senior Care, has observed, “Georgina Lee is so proactive with all her clients. I had an Alzheimer’s client who refused to bathe. Over time and with much patience, she succeeded in getting her to shower…She's known for her homemade soups with my clients that need cooking. She's always positive and upbeat and a pleasure to work with. Georgina just has the way of letting people know what they need without being bossy.” Although Georgina is a gift maker, her greatest gift is her presence as she empowers others to live life to the fullest.
- Kim Worcester
February 2014 CAREGiver of the Month – Janet Castillo As a University of Arizona basketball fan, she found herself not only cheering for her team, but also for those she loved who needed help. Janet Castillo took care of her aunt and her grandparents. She now assists her parents, along with her clients from Home Instead Senior Care. She doesn’t remember a time she wasn’t taking care of someone.
As a University of Arizona basketball fan, she found herself not only cheering for her team, but also for those she loved who needed help. Janet Castillo took care of her aunt and her grandparents. She now assists her parents, along with her clients from Home Instead Senior Care. She doesn’t remember a time she wasn’t taking care of someone. After working for a doctor for eighteen years, a friend told her about the opportunities at Home Instead Senior Care. That was when she decided to become a CAREGiver and has been doing an amazing job for the last six years. Janet has always enjoyed hanging out with her father. When she was a child, they would watch his favorite, the Dodgers. They would bet on the winner with pennies. She remembers with a bit of feistiness, “I used to always root for the other team.” Being the captain of her softball team in her younger years has also come into play in her take-charge manner with her clients. One gentleman thought all along that Janet was there specifically to care for his wife, who had fallen, when in fact she was there for both of them. He struggled at first in receiving her help, so Janet took him outside, where he loved to be. This helped his mood quite a bit. She put a plan together to purchase some pots and seeds and do some planting with him. This is part of her strategy to gain the confidence of her clients. She listens and observes what they like and she makes it fun for them. “Find out what they like to eat, and don’t just make them eat what you have prepared,” advises Janet, who often takes new clients to lunch just to get to know them. Neutral turf helps them to get to know one another without the distractions of home. This worked extremely well with one client, who had been through many care takers. After their lunch out, Janet was able to spend three years with her until she moved away. With her great sense of humor, Janet gets a kick out of the things her clients tell her. One enjoyed the “free food” they received at the McDonald’s window, and wanted to go back again and again. Another client wrapped the leash around Janet’s waist when her dogs didn’t want to go for a walk with them. Janet accepted this opportunity to make sure they would stick together.
This make-the-best-of-it attitude permeates her CAREGiving. As Marlo, CARECounselor with Home Instead Senior Care, says of Janet, “She's a really good problem solver. She knows what to do and how to do it. She helps the client feel accepted and loved, and accomplishes what other CAREGivers find too hard to do. Janet is well organized and able to accomplish a lot on her shift. She knows when to call the office for help. I've never heard her complain about a client; she always finds a way to cope.” If you are ever in need of help, you can bet this team player will be there for you coming up with the best play possible.
- Kim Worcester
January 2014 CAREGiver of the Month – Monica Cathcart
Monica wanted to do something meaningful that would serve God and help people. CAREGiving makes it possible for her to be able to serve others and really make a difference in their lives. One of her favorite rewards is when a client accepts her help.
Working at a nursing home helping with activities and kitchen duties stirred within her a desire to spend time one-on-one with the elderly. Monica Cathcart yearned for more personal interaction. As often as possible she helps her grandparents, who are still living at home, and she was drawn to Home Instead Senior Care. She would be able to focus on one person at a time in the surroundings of their own home. She liked that she could give her undivided attention to each one. Monica wanted to do something meaningful that would serve God and help people. CAREGiving makes it possible for her to be able to serve others and really make a difference in their lives. One of her favorite rewards is when a client accepts her help. She has worked with eight regular long-term clients, as well as many others. One client, who she was with for seven years, just passed away. “You get attached and become friends. It’s the hard part of the job,” commented Monica. When Monica meets with a client, she is all about trying to make life easier and better for him or her. She likes to give them something to look forward to. She engages them in things they used to like to do. One of her clients is very shy and he has opened up to her. They have become very close. Even his family is surprised by their friendship. She reads to him and they talk. “He shares about his life working in a mine for over thirty years. He enjoys talking about it and I enjoy listening.” Keeping their routine as normal as possible helps Monica assist her clients in reaching their goals. One client, who had hip surgery, needs encouragement daily. Every day she helps her to walk, do exercises and to eat healthier foods. She is getting stronger little by little.
Monica gives suggestions of what she thinks her clients should be doing. Sometimes they agree, but most of the time they don’t. “I have to talk a little while longer and then circle back and talk about it again. Usually they come around. If they know you are not there to take over their lives, you gain their trust and keep things the way they like it. Then they feel some independence.”
Liza White, Home Instead Senior Care CARECouncelor, praises Monica, “She goes above and beyond what she is suppose to do for clients. She is very proactive whenever I come to visit. I never have to ask her to do something for the client. She always keeps herself busy with what the clients need done in their homes. Our clients love her.”
“Really get to know your client,” advises Monica. “Take notice of what they like and don’t like. Pay close attention to what they are saying. Let them have as much say in their routine as possible, as long as it’s safe.” For Monica, CAREGiving is not just a job, it’s about relationships. It’s a way of life.
- Kim Worcester
December 2013 CAREGiver of the Month – Scott Lee
“The key,” says Scott, “is in listening to clients express their needs. Then, look for ways to add to that. Encourage them to get out of bed and have a hobby. Try to bring something new into their lives. Like one of my clients is a retired doctor, and I’ve been gradually exposing him to geology.”
Retirement meant some new, closer to home experiences for Exploration Geologist, Scott Lee. He thought he’d give teaching a try. While awaiting his application process, after applying at Pima Community College, Scott’s wife suggested he become a CAREGiver with Home Instead Senior Care. The rest is history with some science mixed in. Scott started caregiving and found he really enjoyed conversing with his clients and brightening their day. As Richard, one of his clients, put it, “Scott has always been a welcomed and cheerful presence when he comes for his shift. His experiences with mining and exploring all over the world are indeed interesting. He also performs very well in the galley, as we former Navy folks call the kitchen. He epitomizes the multiple dimensions of a Home Instead Senior Care CAREGiver.”
Not only does Scott make a good conversationalist and a great cook, but he also makes it his goal to challenge his clients in order to improve their quality of life. One client, with a spinal injury, was barely able to get around with a walker when Scott met him. “I encouraged him to walk as much as possible, and within 3-4 months he was walking a mile. It was exciting to help him regain his strength and to see him walking with only a cane.” Another client who was recovering from surgery was off his walker in a month and a half. He is now taking strolls around his neighborhood with the help and encouragement from Scott. This is what brings him his greatest pleasure in caregiving. According to Kandace, Staffing Assistant with Home Instead Senior Care, “Scott is dependable. His clients really like him, and he is always here when we need him. He will take on extra shifts, even last minute, and he does it with a smile. I appreciate him very much!” Between teaching and grading papers, Scott finds time to encourage and help those in need. “The key,” says Scott, “is in listening to clients express their needs. Then, look for ways to add to that. Encourage them to get out of bed and have a hobby. Try to bring something new into their lives. Like one of my clients is a retired doctor, and I’ve been gradually exposing him to geology.” As a CAREGiver, Scott is also teaching, and most likely when he is teaching he is also caring. - Kim Worcester
November 2013 CAREGiver of the Month – Patricia Graff
“I have grown and learned so much by being with my clients. I have gotten to know them and love them.”
From hair styling to working with Alzheimer’s patients, she was a student who learned quickly how to treat others the way she wanted to be treated. Patricia Graff responded to an ad in the paper to cut and style hair in an Alzheimer’s facility. She did so with some fear and trepidation, since she had no idea how to work with people with this challenge. She learned from watching her boss. She gained wisdom from her example and mastered treating her clients with respect. Patricia learned so well that patients would stand up when she walked into a room. They knew she loved them, and they wanted to greet her and talk with her. She has never stopped learning and is thankful God lead her into client care. “I have grown and learned so much by being with my clients. I have gotten to know them and love them.” Her day starts with God because Patricia says, “You can’t handle it all by yourself.” Recently, a client wanted to get out of bed and she couldn’t. Patricia started praying and God provided the help she needed.
One of the perks of her job is hearing stories of her clients and their families. They take her back in time to another place with stories of their struggles, and what life was like then. She enjoys learning from them and is inspired by how they made it through. “You don’t know what a person is going through. Be kind and respectful. A kind answer turns away wrath,” commented Patricia, quoting the Bible. A client, who loved history and going out to lunch, always wanted Patricia to go with her. “She would tell me the history of the area and the restaurant. Thankfully, she also enjoyed when I cooked and baked for her.” One of Patricia’s main goals when she is with her clients is to help them do things they aren’t able to do. She does it with an attitude of friendliness, laughter and kindness. “I love being with them. I like nothing better than making their day, making their life easier because I’ve been with them.” She encourages them with kind and uplifting words, telling them that we are all in need of an extra helping hand at one time or another. Her advice to other CAREGivers is to, “Let God lead your day. I start there every day. I read my Bible and pray. I play my guitar and sing for the Lord first thing in morning and the last thing at night. He leads me and I shine for Christ. I ask Him for blessings that I may give them away. Everything happens for a reason.” Scott Ehrsam, President and Owner of Home Instead Senior Care Tucson, commented, "We are so blessed to have wonderful CAREGivers like Patricia. Knowing that she brings her heart and lives her values every day with her clients, makes us all confident and grateful for her service." Patricia is passing on these blessings. Her client for two years, Elaine, appreciates that she is an excellent driver and is most helpful and agreeable around the house. “But most of all,” says Elaine, “she is a real Christian who lives what she believes. We click!” - Kim Worcester
October 2013 CAREGiver of the Month – Linda Allen
“Working for Home Instead Senior Care has helped Linda find her true mission in life...”
While working for a health insurance company, she had an increasing desire to help people more. She had taken care of both of her parents, her brother and her little sister. She had helped seniors while working for the insurance company, operated a dance studio for 11 years and had taught computer classes at the community college, but Linda Allen found herself wanting a more fulfilling purpose in life. A co-worker suggested she become a CAREGiver and that has changed everything. Working for Home Instead Senior Care has helped Linda find her true mission in life. As an active 67 year old who still teaches Zumba classes, one of her goals for her clients is to keep them mobile and engaged. She used to walk one of her clients around with a walker, then with a wheel chair, and finally she did leg exercises with her. Linda made sure her client knew she was still worth something. She kept her so mobile that she was able to be taken out of hospice. The client gave credit to Linda for prolonging her life. Linda enjoys getting to know her clients and finding out what they like to do. When they realize she likes exercising they usually want to walk with her. Her enthusiasm for keeping active is contagious. She takes one of her clients to the gym. “If he can’t push the pedals I push them for him,” comments Linda, who likes to keep her clients as active as possible. It encourages them so they don’t become depressed. As an advocate for the seniors in her life, Linda sits next to them and looks straight into their eyes and treats them with the respect they deserve. In so doing she earns their respect right away. Even in doctors’ offices, where they are overlooked and the CAREGiver is spoken to instead, Linda will say, “You can address my friend. You would be surprised to know what he’s done in his life.” She remembers what her parents went through and encourages others to talk straight to the seniors who are quite capable of carrying on a conversation.
As Frances, the wife of one of Linda’s clients says, “Linda knows how to engage Mitchell with memory recall help. She is dependable, kind, compassionate, faithful, insightful and caring. She knows when to step back when he needs some space.” Frances considers Linda her other set of hands and appreciates just being able to go into her bedroom and take a nap at times when caring for her husband of 56 years becomes not only physically challenging but also emotionally draining. Linda has nothing but good things to say about working for Home Instead Senior Care. “They are really on top of things much more than others. They make sure all credentials are up to date. Home Instead Senior Care has a great crew and they know what your preferences are and they work with you.” For Linda that means not having to go to bed anymore wondering what her purpose is in life. - KW
September 2013 CAREGiver of the Month – Nadine Minnerly
“Often we can get frustrated because they don’t want to do what we want them to do. But remember they were once parents, principals and ballroom dancers.”
Making people feel like they are an important part of the world is one of the things Nadine Minnerly does best. She is no stranger to caregiving, having taken care of her husband, who is a veteran with PTSD, and her 96 year old mother for the last five years. In fact, it was when she was searching for help with her mom that she discovered Home Instead Senior Care. Nadine graduated with her bachelor’s degree in Speech and Hearing Sciences. After working in the school district for many years, she had the privilege of getting more involved with the care of her mother and realized she enjoyed that aspect of helping people. In one of her college classes Nadine had to make a memory book with the elderly. She found that people’s life histories fascinated her. “I love hearing their stories of what life was like when they were younger,” Nadine shares. “I enjoy helping my clients, as well as their families, know what their history is. It’s important and I get to experience it as they tell it.” One of Nadine’s clients has such a rich background. Nadine knew she had been a principal and had her PHD in Education, but as she visited more she found out this woman, now in her 80’s, had also competed in ballroom dancing and had been on all seven continents. She is a source of inspiration to Nadine.
Challenging those with dementia has become a game for Nadine and her clients. “If I’m in the kitchen I’m asking them, ‘Where is this? Where is that?’ to help them remember. We play games – word games to work on memory. Often they surprise me.” If a client isn’t interested in doing something that is needed, like taking shower, Nadine will let it go for a while and redirect her attention. Then she’ll mention it again later. “I try to stay calm and bring it up again using a carrot like, ‘After we do this (take shower), we can play a game.’” Usually once the chore has begun, the routine is underway. “One of the most important things,” says Nadine, “is to make sure I’m listening to what my clients are really trying to tell me as we go through this process.”
Nadine advises CAREGivers to respect their clients and don’t treat them like little children. “Remember they are adults and go from there. Let them do as much as they can on their own so they feel a part of things and they feel better about themselves. Often we can get frustrated because they don’t want to do what we want them to do. But remember they were once parents, principals and ballroom dancers.” Nadine has observed that for some reason with a CAREGiver seniors are more accepting than if a family member tries to get them to do something. For one of her clients Nadine has become a part of his extended family. Duane says Nadine makes him feel comfortable. “She has an intuitive sense about what to do and when. When I’m in pain I’m not the easiest person to be around, but she is always sweet and loving with a great sense of humor. We talk about everything. She has become my friend.” For Nadine, she values the opportunity she has to care for her clients and says she is always continuing to learn.
- KW, September 2013August 2013 CAREGiver of the Month – Pat O'Toole “For Pat, the most important thing to do when she meets a new client is to make them feel at ease, “What would you like me to do for you today?” She wants her clients to know she cares about what they want and is going to take care of them just like Home Instead Senior Care promised.
How does one go from working for a company in the credit department to being a CAREGiver for Home Instead Senior Care? Pat O’Toole can tell you about the process. After sixteen years on the phone answering questions and explaining things to seniors, she decided it would be fun to be with them in person.Pat is currently working with three clients, but has fond memories of her very first client who she calls “The General’s Lady.” Even though this dear woman knew who her children were and who Pat was, she would sometimes have guests over who only she could see. They were two generals from a couple of magazine pictures she kept. When Pat prepared lunch she would fill plates for the visiting generals as well. There were days when her friends were not hungry, “but they appreciate it,” she would proclaim. To say that these friends were not there was unheard of for Pat, “She was in her 90’s with severe dementia, and in her mind they were real. I needed to respect her reality.” For Pat, the most important thing to do when she meets a new client is to make them feel at ease, “What would you like me to do for you today?” She wants her clients to know she cares about what they want and is going to take care of them just like Home Instead Senior Care promised. If a client is disabled in any fashion Pat goes out of her way to find out for herself what he, or she, can and can’t do. She likes for them to do as much as they can for themselves, which makes them stronger and feel useful. “It takes a lot of patience,” explains Pat. “It takes lots of time and boredom to allow them to do it on their own, but then I know where they really need the help. It’s not good to help them so much that you cripple them.” To solve the exercise dilemma, as most seniors abhor it, Pat gets up with them to move about during commercials. “They hate the commercials. This way they can rest in between and not get overly tired. Plus, they still get to watch their favorite programs.” When connecting with the elderly, Pat advises care givers to listen to them and not talk too much about themselves and their struggles. “Don’t tell every detail of your life story, especially if you are currently going through a difficult time. They don’t need to be worried and stressed about you.” Pat says that it’s okay to talk about a past crisis and how they made it through, or to share funny stories. For Starr Merten, whose mother is currently in Pat’s care, it’s not just that Pat “gets it” and she doesn’t have to “over-explain a situation to her.” She appreciates Pat’s professionalism, “Pat provides the services that need to be done, but more important to me, she provides companionship...Pat helps prevent loneliness from setting in and taking over. I’m so grateful for that.”
Who wouldn’t be thankful to have a loved one in the care of a kind woman who possesses great listening skills honed from years on the phone, but also understands and respects individual needs and realities?- KW, August 2013
July 2013 CAREGiver of the Month – Pam Weikert “No one in her family thought she could do it, but taking care of her mother while she was dying of cancer came naturally to Pam Weikert.“
No one in her family thought she could do it, but taking care of her mother while she was dying of cancer came naturally to Pam Weikert. Afterwards she was presented with an opportunity to take care of a friend who had a lot of physical issues and needed her help.
“It’s like somebody else takes over and it just comes to me with no problem,” Pam remarked. She enjoyed encouraging her friend and taking her to the gym for swim classes. She helped her keep her appointments and found ways to show her how to eat in a more healthy way with portion controls. Pam did this out of friendship. Little did she know that this experience would later lead to a job. Pam now works with four clients at Home Instead Senior Care. Her healthy cooking and sincere care has led to much positive feedback and spurred her on to more creativity. “Presentation is a lot of it for the elderly. No big portions, but presentation plays a big part in getting them to eat.” Along with preparing healthy foods that are appealing to her clients, Pam likes to organize their cabinets and “weed out all the expired food.” She enjoys the satisfaction of cleaning and making their homes better places to live. One of the advantages to working with clients in need of physical therapy is that she gets to do it with them. She tells them, “I need to work out too, so let’s do this.” Even though her clients may not always remember the people they know, Pam tries to get them out on a walk or an outing, which can go a long way in helping them stay involved in life. No matter what is happening Pam likes to maintain a cheery tone to help keep their spirits up. “I keep a smile on my face no matter what. I tell them jokes and clips on growing old. When they are really down I try to remember a funny story to share.” One of the most important things Pam does for her treasured clients is to remind them to rely on God. She shared a story about a woman in the hospital who found a frog next to her bed after a visit from a clergy woman, who was never to be found afterwards. On the frog was the message, “Forever Rely on God.” Her client, Mollie, enjoyed the story so much that she decided she wanted to give frogs as gifts. Mollie’s family got involved finding frogs for her and Pam makes little frogs for her to give to her friends.
Mollie appreciates Pam’s kindness and compassion. She commented, “I don’t have to tell Pam what to do. She looks for things to do for me. She is very courteous and on time.” Mollie’s grandson appreciates the great care she is receiving and told Pam, “Thank you so much for taking such good care of my grandma.” It’s comments like these and the many phone calls to the Home Instead Senior Care office in Tucson that encourage Pam to keep doing what comes to her naturally. She lets her clients be and feel independent for as long as possible. She puts herself in their position and treats them the way she would want to be treated. The Golden Rule wins every time.
- KW, July 2013June 2013 CAREGiver of the Month – Susan Miller “With one hand unable to play anymore, Kathy had given up on the piano. Susan decided there had to be a way to bring music back into Kathy’s life. She found a teacher to come once a week and play one hand while Kathy plays the other. “
Being a hospice nurse was one of the most rewarding experiences in her life. Then Susan Miller met Debbie and Tormay and she knew she had to join the team of private duty CAREGivers at Home Instead Senior Care. She was drawn to them and their relationships with their clients. “The people I work with are on top of the world!” Susan proclaimed. With a never ending smile, Susan talked about her time with her clients. Her first one, who she had initially decided lived too far away, turned out to be a delightful scrap booker. That’s when she knew it was okay to break her own rule about how far she would drive. Her twelve hour days flew by as a relationship was built. Kathy, her current client, loves to swim and Susan finds joy in getting her into the pool. She came up with a “noodle” set up that enables Kathy to do what she enjoys most. When Kathy is swimming she feels like she is “doing something wonderful.” As Susan swims along with her she has to pinch herself and ask, “Am I really at work?”
With one hand unable to play anymore, Kathy had given up on the piano. Susan decided there had to be a way to bring music back into Kathy’s life. She found a teacher who comes once a week and plays one hand while Kathy plays the other.
One of Susan’s goals for her time with Kathy is to help her feel confident when Susan is not around. “You can do it! And tomorrow you can do it too!” Kathy is now encouraging Susan back, “Oh, you’re very confident at that.”
Getting her up and moving by taking baby steps is the way Susan helps Kathy with bigger goals. “Wouldn’t it be fun to get cleaned up?” she says to her on a Sunday morning. “Would you like to come with me to warm up some coffee? And eventually she is walking into church.” Kathy’s son, John, couldn’t be more pleased with the care his mother receives. “Susan is a real blessing. She cares for my mother better than I would, better than any of the family would. She is compassionate and patient. She thinks of things we wouldn’t. Susan is gifted. It’s her calling.” Susan’s advice to other CAREGivers is, “Believe in God, believe in yourself, believe in the person who taught you, and believe in your client’s ability to learn and grow beyond the label.” It’s Susan’s conscientiousness and constant caring that earned her the June CAREGiver of the Month. As Kathy is fond of reminding Susan, “There is difference between someone who is smart and someone who is wise.” Susan is definitely wise as she consistently seeks to not just fill hours, but to build warm relationships.
- KW, June 2013
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