Award-winning CAREGiver Gebriela K. has a winsome personality. That is a necessity for those who go into seniors’ homes – their private sanctuaries – to help them live safely and comfortably. And that’s how Gebriela won over a wary 92-year-old client and her 8-year-old brown and white cat.
“It was difficult for her at the beginning, and that is not unusual,” said Gebriela, a CAREGiver of the Month for the Home Instead Senior Care® franchise of Denver South that serves Aurora, Bowmar, Centennial, Cherry Hills Village, Commerce City, Denver, Englewood, Glendale, Greenwood Village, Lakewood, Littleton and Sheridan.
“We were patient with each other, and now it’s working well. I really feel we turned the corner about five weeks ago when she asked if she could call me ‘Gabby.’ I said, ‘Sure!’ No one else uses that nickname for me, so it is unique and meaningful to us. My own family calls me ‘Ella,’ ” Gebriela added. “It feels now as though my client and I work together on everything – I have been there from 5 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays since January as part of the 24/7 coverage for her.
“My client’s cat, Samson, would run from me during our first two weeks. Now I brush Samson, feed him and take care of him as part of my responsibilities for my client who loves him dearly. Bonding with her cat puts my client more at ease. My client is a private person but has opened up more, telling me about coming from New York long ago and being involved in real estate.”
Among the things that Gebriela loves about being a CAREGiver is listening to her clients’ rich stories. “There is so much information, and I have learned from my clients,” she said.
Soaking in her clients’ histories is one of many job perks for Gebriela. Her primary reason for being a CAREGiver relates to her Christian faith, and Gebriela explains her inner drive by using a conversation with her client as an example. “My client asks me about my job and why I do it, and I tell her that God is love, and I love taking care of people because I believe that’s what God wants me to do,” Gebriela said.
The 23rd Psalm has special meaning to Gebriela because it is her favorite Scripture and seems to fit Gebriela’s mission of helping others. The assurances given in the six verses have been a comfort to many seniors over the years, and Gebriela has a way of personalizing them for clients.
Gebriela’s senior-care journey started in Seattle, where she became a CNA 14 years ago and worked in a retirement home. When she moved to Denver 11 years ago to be closer to family, she kept her CNA status and worked for a skilled-care facility full time. One of her sisters joined Home Instead Senior Care in 2006, and Gebriela followed a year later on a part-time basis. Gebriela liked the one-on-one work with clients so much that she flipped her hours and went full time with Home Instead two years ago and now works part time with the nursing home on Fridays and some Saturdays. She reserves Sundays for church and as a day of rest.
“This kind of care with Home Instead Senior Care is something that I like better because it is just one client. You get to know the client better than if you were working in a facility, and you can help them more. It is good care, and the Home Instead training is good,” Gebriela said. “There can be teamwork involved, depending on the client, and Home Instead is very good at that.
“As CAREGivers, we communicate very well while working with our 24/7 client, which is really important. We do a lot of writing and reporting in the log book and also talk some about what has gone on with the client and how we can help her most because sometimes her situation can change from day to day. All of her medical attention and physical therapy come into the home, so we are part of the scheduling process and understand what is going on.”
The CAREGivers’ teamwork is not unlike that of Denver’s successful pro football Broncos, the highly popular sports entity that has grown on Gebriela with each passing year in the Mile High City. “Coming from Seattle,” she admitted, “I had not known much about the Broncos. My brother loves the Broncos, gave me one of their shirts, and we watch them together as a family on Sunday afternoons after church. That’s fun – especially with family – but what I still appreciate most is what I do. I thank God for being able to do it.”
Home Instead offers free monthly newsletters with tips and advice for caregivers of elderly loved ones.
Each Home Instead Senior Care franchise is independently owned and operated.