"Maude Allen is an angel."The wife of a client made that proclamation in describing the CAREGiver of the Year at Home Instead Senior Care® of Las Cruces. Maude has helped the 97-year-old wheelchair-bound client since Feb. 11, 2010, and works with her client about 18 hours a week.
Client Care Director Faith Lester asked the client's wife what she and her husband like best about Maude, who has been a CAREGiver for more than 10 years. The response: "I like just about everything about Maude. She gives all of herself in caring for my husband – she actually cares for me, too. Maude is a natural – she is in caregiving because she knows it is her calling."Two other clients – also a husband and wife – celebrated when they heard Maude had been chosen as CAREGiver of the Year just months after being honored as the franchise's CAREGiver of the Month. The wife excitedly exclaimed, "Oh, I'm so glad! What can I do to help get the word out about Maude and get her properly honored?"The husband and wife, who have had Maude as their primary CAREGiver since March 2010, said Maude is the first one they request when they add a shift or need a fill-in. Maude's service with the couple totals more than 2,400 hours.When franchise co-owner Jan Wimsatt asked for a word to describe Maude, the client and his wife alternately offered the superlatives, "One word is not enough. Gracious, efficient, punctual, dedicated, fun, mothering and comforting . . . " They also added phrases to describe their beloved CAREGiver: "Good sense of humor, beautiful lady inside and out, gives peace of mind. Maude has endeared herself to us as one of the family while keeping appropriate boundaries and not encroaching on our own family relationships."Jan, who has drawn on Maude for comfort and advice on a personal level, praised Maude as being incredibly adaptable to the various personalities she helps. Jan gave an example, pointing out when one of Maude's clients passed away, her 93-year-old widower wasn't ready to let Maude go. "So," Jan said, "he became a client who had something in mind to stay active. He knew Maude could and would help."
Maude explained: "The client kept me to help with his video project, which documented where he and his wife had been as world travelers. They had gone around the globe at least two times because, when he was 50, he and his wife moved to Europe for his job."During the client's travels, he had accumulated hundreds of slides. The client wanted Maude to help edit the slides, scan them and manipulate the images for quality. Maude and the client then put the collection together as a presentation for his family."Maude worked with the client two times a week, totaling four hours. It was amazing how much she was able to accomplish in such a short period of time," Staffing Manager Ann Marie Vasquez pointed out."When we were finished," Maude recalled, "he had made a hard copy of all pictures to give to his granddaughter. Other family members received the files on a thumb drive. I wish I had a movie of them. When he died 3½ years ago, he said he was ready to go. I still have a picture of him and his wife sitting on an elephant. All of my clients have similarly amazing lives. In his case, I loved it because his final years had meaning, a drive and an intention."Maude also lives with a purpose. One of her favorite Bible verses is Ephesians 4:32, which says: "Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you."
"My faith plays a role in every part of my life, as well as my job," Maude said. "Many times clients want to talk about religion or just be assured they will know their loved ones in their eternal life. I am there to listen and reassure them.
"I am there to give them a hug when their world seems to be crumbling down. All along the way, I pray for guidance to know the right things to say to lift their spirits. Just knowing that someone truly cares means the world to them. I love what I do because it gives me a sense of accomplishment just knowing I have been there for these wonderful people."
An aura of calmness and serenity seems to follow Maude wherever she goes.
"When I speak to Maude or when she comes to the office," Ann Marie said, "she gives me a sense of peace. Maude's demeanor is calming and relaxing. I can only imagine the calming feeling she gives her clients. For the seven years that I have known Maude, I have never had a negative thought or feeling about her. She has given Home Instead 10 years of service, and how amazing is that? Maude gives her undivided attention and her caring heart to her clients. When families talk to me about Maude, they say she is wonderful, great and fabulous.
"When I look into her soul, I see pureness because she's genuine and humble. She is dependable, reliable and delightful. Maude is truly an exceptional CAREGiver. If I needed someone to take care of my grandmother, I would want Maude to be her CAREGiver."Others joined Ann Marie in providing superlatives for Maude:
· Added Jan Wimsatt, whose late mother received Maude's help as a client: "As a daughter, I'd say Maude's soothing demeanor and respectful attitude calmed my mother when almost no one else could. My mother trusted her with paperwork and assistance with bill-paying – something she was tremendously independent about."
· From co-owner Ron Wimsatt: "Maude has a true servant's heart and attitude for her clients. She approaches every client with more than just 'task' needs. She looks at the client and figures out what's going to make this client's day. She delivers this from a true compassion point of view. Maude can work with any client and will always find a way to adapt to their needs. From an owner's standpoint, she is very humble. She is always going to do the right thing for her client, and stay within the boundaries of Home Instead. Maude also never complains, but she will voice concerns to the office."
· From Client Care Manager Dona Martinez: "Maude pays close attention to details, and it is so reassuring when she is with clients. She makes sure she contacts everyone who needs to know something about a client and explains the situation succinctly. She has such caring ways and is passionate about what she does. One of Maude's clients called after hours because she needed a shift with Maude. She was unable to go then but was willing to rearrange her schedule to accommodate the client's needs. One of Maude's clients thinks that world of her. Maude's other client always requests Maude when she is asking for extra shifts. When I look at Maude's soul, I see dependability. "
· Added Client Care Director Faith Lester: "When I think of Maude, I see an outstanding CAREGiver who assesses her client's situation – including the mood in the house – and prioritizes the tasks to get them accomplished in one fell swoop. Maude is never overwhelmed, and nothing fazes her. None of her clients want to lose her. She works with difficult dementia clients, has a calming influence and makes them feel safe, loved and comfortable. She is gentle and strong at the same time. She is in total control with her clients' safety, yet she allows them to feel independent and make their own decisions. She has great common sense and is down to earth. Maude is willing to do whatever is needed to make her clients' lives better. When I look into Maude's soul, I see kindness, compassion and altruistic motives, and I know her job is not just about the paycheck for her. As a CAREGiver at heart, she would help anyone. If I needed a CAREGiver, I'd want Maude to take care of me."
· From Administrative Assistant Dawna Sue Walter: "When I look at Maude's soul, I see compassion. Maude stands out for her kindness, client care and putting her clients' needs above her own. One client always tells me how amazing Maude is, and she has a outstanding reputation with all clients. Maude will let the office know when she can work extended hours with clients who are having a crisis. She treats people and her clients like friends, not as if they are an obligation. She is a well-rounded person who is an excellent CAREGiver. Maude not only takes care of her clients, but she tries to stay involved with company events. When we ask for donations to help others, she goes above and beyond the call of duty; she has helped wrap gifts for seniors in need."Maude learned her life skills early in life growing up on a ranch between Hatch and Deming, later running the ranch with her mother. They sold the ranch and moved to Las Cruces in 2002 when her mother retired. "I love Las Cruces and the Southwest. I never tire of the beautiful mountains, desert scenery and breathtaking sunsets," she said. "Moving to Las Cruces was somewhat of an adjustment, but I got used to it. It was more difficult for my mother.
"After we moved, I knew I wanted to give back and help people in some way. I felt a calling to help senior citizens. They are truly the forgotten 'jewels' in our society. I saw an ad in the help-wanted section of the Las Cruces Sun News, cut it out and thought about it for a month. I contacted Home Instead and was accepted. Then, my journey began."
Asked what she likes most about being a CAREGiver, Maude said: "I like getting to know our clients and providing them the help that makes their lives easier. I also feel they can teach me many things because they have a wealth of knowledge and experience in many areas.
"Some of my clients have told me that seniors feel 'invisible' as they grow older. They also feel that society doesn't value them anymore. That saddens me. I try to make up for this emptiness in their lives and give them the dignity they deserve."
Maude doesn't blink when tested. She is determined to stand in the gap while assisting dementia clients and their families because she knows what they are experiencing. Summing up her thoughts about the challenges they face, Maude often prays: "Lord, it is my hope that someday soon a cure for Alzheimer's disease can be found."
While helping to keep dementia clients in their homes as long as possible, Maude has personally felt the heartbreak of taking care of a family member who had Alzheimer's disease. Her mother died three years ago from the effects of the dementia. "I cared for her the last year and a half of her life. As her memory faded, she forgot me first. It was hard for me – I became a stranger to her. I told my sister we could get through this, and we did," Maude said.
In addition to her personal experience, Maude has completed the Home Instead Senior Care network's Alzheimer's Disease or Other Dementias CARE: Changing Aging Through Research and Education® Training Program. Maude and other CAREGivers trained in the program have a passion to work with Alzheimer's clients and receive ongoing classroom training and testing prior to caring for a senior with Alzheimer's or other dementias. It is a unique program that has received acclaim and endorsements from experts.
Detailing her current client situation, Maude said: "My present clients have very minimal evidence of dementia. In the past, I have been a caregiver for clients suffering from varying degrees of Alzheimer's.
"Two clients with whom I worked never even knew my name, even after being in their homes for years. That is not uncommon, though. You learn to make contact with them in different ways. The smile on your face and the warmth in your voice has a way of reaching through 'the fog' in their minds. I know by stories from their families that my clients led full and exciting lives before this dreadful disease invaded their minds."
Maude knows that all kinds of behaviors can come up."Some clients can be difficult, but I totally understand it and am not shocked," she said. "I try to make life easier for clients, their families and their other CAREGivers, too. You need to do a lot of communicating about their conditions and changes in their day-to-day routines."Thinking of one of her clients and how she tries to accommodate her, Maude said: "She is just really particular about what she wants. You have to understand that seniors get to the point where they lose much of their independence. If they can control one area of their life, they will try to hang onto it as long as they can. You have to be respectful of that."All in all, Maude loves what she does and wouldn't think of doing anything else."I may be prejudiced," she said, "but I feel Home Instead is the best available service out there for seniors wanting to stay in their homes. I have clients who introduce me as their CAREGiver and then proceed to tell the person how wonderful our company is. I agree."
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