CAREGiver of the Month James Enger measures his words thoughtfully and quietly, so it's important not to miss anything he has to say about his career.
Asked for highlights of his time with Home Instead Senior Care® of the Northern Shenandoah Valley in Winchester, an evaluation of his days since joining owner Keith Clay's award-winning franchise in May 2016, James said:
"One of my clients, with whom I had assisted for about 18 months during 40-hour weeks, passed away in October. I don't want to go into all the reasons because they are personal, but I considered him like a brother. That's how I truly felt," James said.
"He was bedfast, and I'd position his bed so we could bird-watch out his window. He did not talk; a machine talked for him when he typed. He could hear me perfectly well and would react. At the end, I was his only CAREGiver. His daughter and a couple of others took care of him when I was not there. I took a couple of days off when he died."
It's significant to note that Home Instead Senior Care compassionately worked with James after his client's passing. "Bereavement days would not have happened when I was working in a skilled nursing home," said James, who is a CNA who worked in the skilled nursing home for five years. His tone was not one of anger but rather of pragmatism when he said, "There are just too many residents to help in a facility to take off any time when one of them dies. You have to be there for others because the need is still there no matter what happens."
A friend told James about Home Instead Senior Care, having worked for the franchise for six years. "My friend takes care of my dad, who is in a facility, on behalf of Home Instead. I wanted one-on-one care for a job because the seniors get more attention," said James, who pointed out other advantages.
"I can pick and choose assignments, but the matching process is good. Communication with the office is excellent. All the people are great. The job is a good fit. There is no shortage of the possibility of work hours – I get five text messages a day for fill-in shifts."
Developing compassionate relationships is important to James. For instance, the wife of a late client lives in a nursing home, and James visits her once a week. "We are real close; she became a good friend. Nursing-home residents love to have company, and she is no different," James said. "When her husband, my client, was diagnosed with cancer, I transported him to seven straight days of chemotherapy. His health took a sudden dive, and he died."
Of course, there are challenges. James recalled one day as a nursing-home employee when a retired minister, who had late-stage dementia, took a swing at him when James wasn't looking. "I escaped harm. Obviously, he would never had done that before dementia. He became frustrated over something we nursing-home employees were not aware of, and it boiled over. He did not know what he was doing; he was reacting in the only way he knew how. Personalities sometimes change with dementia. It is the disease."
Asked about the qualities a family caregiver or professional care specialist should have, James offered these thoughts:
"1, Patience, plenty of it. 2, A good attitude. 3, Don't get upset. 4, Be kind. 5, Give respect. 6, Allow independence if it is safe to do so. 7, Treat them like family. 8, Refocus and redirect: Must have the gift of gab."
James and other CAREGivers offer personal assistance with eating, grooming, dressing, bathing, in continence care, dementia support, cognitive impairment, hospice support and mobility. By expertly doing so, James not only assists his clients, but helps their families eliminate worry, reduce stress and re-establish personal freedom.
Home Instead Senior Care's guiding principles are also emblazoned on its employees' hearts: "CAREGivers demonstrate their commitment to their clients by honoring God in all they do; treating their clients and their families with dignity and respect; embracing personal growth in an attempt to continually improve the quality of their care through franchise training; and building value in their service to others."
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.