CAREGiver Vickie Hiett was meeting two new clients, a husband and wife, and one of their daughters for the first time last July. After a little while, the daughter excused herself, went into the kitchen and texted her other sister, "We've found the right one."
"The right one." It was Vickie.
Since then, Vickie has shared epic moments with the clients and family, including the passing of the husband last September. Vickie remained with the widow as much as she could despite the death of her own mother, Barbara Virginia Harsh, just six weeks later. "I never left them except for my mother's final days in late October. Her husband, who was in hospice when I came aboard, was a sweetheart," said Vickie, who has been selected as CAREGiver of the Month for the Home Instead Senior Care® franchise that serves the Northern Shenandoah Valley, including Winchester, Virginia, and 25 other communities.
Members of the Winchester family told Vickie: "We don't know what we would do without you." Vickie feels the same way about her client and her family, saying: "I am like a daughter to my client, and I could not give her up for anything in the world. There are more important things in this world than money or possessions – relationships matter most. I am not the 'leaving' kind of person. I have a hard time asking for even a couple of hours off when I am supposed to be filling a shift for my client. I want her to be able to count on me every day. She has told me, 'Please never get sick.' She gives me a goodbye hug every day and tells me that she loves me."
An example of Vickie's devotion to her client was on display on Mother's Day, when she spent a considerable part of the day with her 80-year-old client because Vickie insisted on doing so. "My client is still grieving terribly over the loss of her 82-year-old husband. The week was especially tough because May 6 was my client's first birthday without her husband. The couple had been together since 11th grade and had been married 58 years. They had a wonderful, wonderful love."
Spending Mother's Day with her client also may have helped ease Vickie's pain somewhat. "I miss my mother dearly and would give anything to bring her back. My parents had been married 50 years, and my mom had just turned 66 when she passed. It was such a hard week leading up to Mother's Day for both the client and me."
Without her mother's influence, Vickie might never have made her way to senior care.
"My mother was a private-duty caregiver, and I would go with her sometimes when she would take care of seniors," said Vickie, a Cross Junction resident who joined Home Instead Senior Care on Feb. 4, 2014. "Mom would get so close to her seniors, and then they would die and the sorrow would be overwhelming. I used to ask her, 'Why would you do this?' Now I find myself doing the same thing. As a CAREGiver, I am sharing my heart with others.
"Mom had heart problems, and her last two years had been spent mostly in hospitals. But Mom never went to live in a nursing home because Dad and I kept her at home most of the time; my husband Russell and son Ray also pitched in. Dad would work from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. and help Mom when he wasn't working. I would work from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. with Home Instead and get off work in Winchester, drive the 42 miles to Romney, West Virginia, and spend the evenings helping her. He would walk in the door, and I would leave. I would do it again in a heartbeat."
Members of her client's family mourned with Vickie and her family at her mother's funeral. The client's family also told franchise owner Aaron Blight and his staff about Vickie's compassionate care and touted her for the franchise's Hand and Heart Award, which was announced within weeks of the CAREGiver of the Month honor. Three or four CAREGivers receive the Hand and Heart Award each month, but there is only one CAREGiver of the Month.
"It feels good to be appreciated by my client, her family and the franchise staff. My client and her husband were blessed with wonderful children. They are keeping her out of a facility, which is the best way," Vickie said. "As a Home Instead CAREGiver, I will do anything within the scope of my job to help keep her out of a facility. I text her children every day to keep them updated about how she is doing. I keep the lines of communication open."
After some initial nervousness, Vickie had no doubts that she was following a good job path, one that also aligns with her deep faith. "At first, I did not know if this was something I should do. Now I would not give it up for anything. It doesn't even feel like a job. It is like being with family," she said. "The franchise training is good, and I take all of the classes.
"The staff is the best, they really are. Our boss, Aaron, is really nice. Everyone is great, they all get along and they know what challenges we face. They are also a compassionate group. As Mom got sicker, our franchise staff totally understood. They said, 'Go be with your mom.' Their actions match their words."
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.