Compassion. Respect. Kindness. Patience. Dignity. Understanding. CAREGiver of the Month Harold Thompson Jr. boiled his job down to those six words.
While elaborating, Harold ties his view of life together with his position at Home Instead Senior Care® of the Northern Shenandoah Valley in Winchester: "We're all human, and everybody is going to get old one day, if the Good Lord permits it. And, if we live long enough, we'll need help. We must look at people in a certain light: We must use compassion, because compassion works on all levels. All people, including those with dementia, are more receptive to kindness and kind words than anything else. We should always be patient and understanding, and it is important to give respect and dignity. As a Christian, I strongly believe these things."
Harold joined owner Keith Clay's Home Instead Senior Care franchise in August 2017. He was aware of at least four friends who had worked for Home Instead, most of whom are people Harold has known most of his life. Many of them go to the same church. "After I retired from my job, I needed something extra to do. One of my friends mentioned Home Instead and its work flexibility," Harold said.
Senior-care work is nothing new to Harold, who is a former CNA who worked in an Alzheimer's unit years ago as a second job. He also served as an emergency medical technician. "This is the kind of work I enjoy. Working as a CNA lasted about six months. I did enjoy the work and got along great with everybody," said Harold, who also worked full time for 32 years at a car-parts manufacturing plant before he retired. "The CNA work was a second shift, from 3:30 to 11 p.m. My full-time job was 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. I got lots of overtime at both jobs, so I was working a lot for a while. I'd get off work, go home and sleep and go back to work."
Harold said he loves working for Home Instead Senior Care. "The office staff, including the schedulers, are good. Communications are good. The people are friendly, and employees are not ordered around. I feel we are treated with a lot of respect and dignity. The staff works with you more so than you are working for them. The office makes your job easier. Hours are good, and the flexibility is good. I have no complaints at all. I cannot find anything better," Harold said.
The one-on-one concept of care can be summed up succinctly, with Harold explaining: "Being a CAREGiver is a lot like being in your own house, really. In your own home, you keep it clean. That's what you do for the client. You have conversations with the clients just as if they were in your own home. You get groceries for them just as you would for yourself."
Harold describes his two regular clients as "real gentlemen." He added: "They are very nice and very pleasant. Both are good guys who are gentle and soft-spoken. They are easygoing."
One client likes puzzles and card games, and he reminisces about his past. "The client hunted and fished, lives on a farm and was a government employee and farmer who wants to own cattle again. Someone else is pasturing their cattle on his land right now. He stays active and has a nice-sized garden in the summer. During my shift, his wife socializes with ladies she has known her entire life," Harold said. "They are good people, church attenders who delivered meals to people during Christmastime."
With his other client, Harold keeps to a tight schedule that consists of light housekeeping, including cleaning and laundry, as well as other duties. Harold's presence allows two family members to run errands and take care of other matters. "He's a good guy," Harold said, "and I enjoy chatting with him."
Harold also takes fill-in work. "The office is looking for help all the time. There are lots of opportunities to pick up extra clients on the weekends. There are always shifts to fill."
Asked what the future holds, Harold thought for a second and said, "I want to keep going. I'll be 74 this year, and I am in good shape. This is good work."
All Home Instead Senior Care CAREGivers are screened, trained, bonded
and insured. For inquiries about employment, please call 540-722-8750
or apply online. For further information about our home care services, please visit Home Instead Senior Care.