Susan Hitchner is a
natural-born caregiver. She is one of those compassionate souls who has been a
caregiver since she earned her high school diploma. After high school, Susan
quickly became a CNA and added to her education by attending vocational school
and taking college classes.
“I can honestly say this
is all I know. I’ve done nothing but caregiving,” Susan pointed out. “I never
worked in retail or any other fields because I don’t have the desire for those
For 22 years, Susan
successfully ran an Alzheimer’s daycare center in New Jersey as the program
director. “Every one of our daycare participants was in a different stage of
dementia,” Susan explained. “Dementia is very personal and affects people so
differently. We had some challenging participants and some loving ones. A few
of them wanted to leave the center early, but I could refocus them, and they
would stay. I always did it through encouragement. That is how you reach
Susan was heartbroken to
leave the program, but her husband received a job transfer to the Winchester,
Virginia, area seven years ago. “When we moved here, I stayed at home and spent
time with the grandkids.
I could not stay home too long,” Susan explained.
Shortly before New Year’s
Day in 2016, Susan joined Home Instead Senior Care® of Winchester,
owner Keith Clay’s franchise that serves the Northern Shenandoah Valley,
including 25 other communities in addition to Winchester. She had seen Home
Instead Senior Care in a newspaper advertisement and applied online. Two years
and three months later, Susan was honored as CAREGiver of the Month.
“Home Instead is a very
good company, and so is the staff. They do everything well. I appreciate
them. Training is most definitely good,” Susan said. In terms of job flexibility,
she noted: “They
help by working around my schedule. If something unexpected pops up and I need
time off the next day, I can do that. Plus, I am lucky to have clients who have
helped with scheduling.
love the clients and am happy with Home Instead. I don’t want to leave the clients. I make
every effort to be with them.”
Susan is serious about
assisting her four regular clients and even worked with franchise staff to
postpone jury duty to remain with the clients. And the four clients, who have
been with Susan since she started with Home Instead Senior Care, have made it
clear they don’t want to lose her.
“I was slowed a bit for
seven weeks in 2017 with an injury, but I persevered and remained on the job
pretty much the whole time to stay with the clients,” Susan recalled. “The
clients depend on me so much, and I have appreciative clients. I’m not saying
it’s easy every day. You’ve got to have patience. Sometimes I take a step back
and say, ‘This is my job.’ For one client, people have told me I need to
strongly encourage him to do some things on his own, but it’s hard because he
One client has late-stage
Alzheimer’s and resides in a facility. “She is a prime example of why I love my
job. One day a week, for two hours, I provide companionship. She seldom has
visitors. I really enjoy working with her,” Susan said. “She knows who I am. I
come in when she is sitting at the dining room table. She smiles so big when
she sees me.”
Another client, afflicted
by stroke and living alone in a rented house, is wheelchair-bound and depends
on Susan as one of his few lifelines to the outside world. “He is frustrated
and depressed. I encourage him by giving him pep talks and telling him, ‘You
are going to walk again.’ He receives in-home physical therapy. He previously
walked for a time with a cane, but he had a setback because of pneumonia and
needs to get his strength back,” Susan said.
A third regular client
receives care from his daughter, grandson and the daughter’s friend when Susan
is not with him. Susan helps him out of bed, walks him to the kitchen table for
breakfast and later assists with personal care before he can read from his
Bible and practice his faith. The client, whose wife died last year, tells
Susan, “I would not know what to do without you.” A touching moment comes at
the close of each shift six times a week. “He is so appreciative that he grabs
my hand and kisses it before I go,” Susan said.
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.