"Improvise, adapt and overcome."
CAREGiver of the Month Sonia Baiana followed the U.S. Marine mind-set when she thought of a simple-yet-ingenious way to help a 71-year-old client enjoy life a little more while dealing with the debilitating effects of a stroke.
Sonia and the client were playing dominoes when he said, "Well, this is good, but I'd really like to play cards if I could." The client, a military veteran, wasn't able to hold the cards. Sonia replied: "I'll go home and figure something out."
Improvising and adapting after finding a cylindrical piece of polyethylene foam, Sonia explained how she executed an idea: "I took a pool noodle, cut it to size and slit it on top so the cards slip in and stay upright. His left hand is clinched, but it allowed him to play cards again. You should've seen his face, how delighted he was. He taught me how to play UNO®, his favorite card game, and we play it most of the time. One time, we played four or five times. We play for beans and fun – it's like playing for colored marbles. He keeps them where he can see them. He loves to win at cards. Later, the client and I even made up our own card game."
Having learned a new pastime, Sonia bought a deck of UNO cards for the client's house and another deck for herself and her husband. "My husband and I have played UNO when we've gone camping," said Sonia, who came up with another idea to help her client.
"He cannot talk loudly, so one day I brought him a bell so he can summon me if I'm in another room doing the light housekeeping or meal preparation. He was very appreciative. Those are little touches I can do for him that bring me joy."
Sonia joined Home Instead Senior Care® of Winchester on Dec. 18, 2018, and she was honored as CAREGiver of the Month for December 2019. She was looking at a social-media site and saw an advertisement for the Home Instead franchise that serves Northern Shenandoah Valley and is guided by President and CEO Anthony Crosen.
"After being a stay-at-home mom for 10 years," Sonia said, "I wanted to find something where I could continue to care for people because I find this kind of work very meaningful and fulfilling. I had taken care of relatives from time to time as a family caregiver. I saw that Home Instead was going to be at a job fair, and I went to check it out. I really liked the environment and really enjoyed the interview."
Describing what she likes best while assisting seniors on behalf of the award-winning Home Instead franchise, Sonia said: "I like taking care of people, knowing my efforts make them more comfortable and hopefully bring a little hope in their day. The best thing is when I get to a home and I see the client's face light up. What a great feeling!"
Sonia added: "I love Home Instead Senior Care. I was never thinking I would love this job so much. You're helping someone, and it is fulfilling. It hurts to lose them to a nursing home. My current clients are in relatively good health."
Sonia remembers working with a hospice client whose doctors had given him four months to live, but he has lived for six years. "Hospice care can be a little tricky. One day can be good. On another day, the client might be sleeping," Sonia said.
"In general, you never know what the day will bring. With some dementia behavior, I just don't think of it in serious terms or take anything personally, and I go with the flow. The Home Instead training is helpful, but I've learned a lot of things after classes because I've learned a lot from clients and how to meet their needs. As far as ongoing Home Instead classes, I took all of them, including CPR. I have personal-care licensing as well as the home-helper certification. I've learned so much — it's crazy."
Sonia had to improvise, adapt and overcome – mostly with conversation – while helping a woman client who refused at first to shower. "Her son wanted me to give her a shower. She said 'no,' so I asked if I could wash her hair. She said 'no' twice. I talked to her about the shampoo and persuaded her to try it. After that, everything went well," Sonia said.
The bottom line, Sonia said, is forming relationships, and not just with the clients. "The card-playing client's wife is a neat person. The client has had other CAREGivers because he's been with Home Instead nine years. The time I spend with him and his wife makes my day, and I am sure it makes their day as well."
Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of in-home support services to help keep seniors independent. For employment inquiries in Winchester, Virginia, apply here or call (540) 904-1190. Or, for more information, go to Home Instead Senior Care Winchester. For employment inquiries in Martinsburg, West Virginia, apply here or call (304) 301-3896. Or, for more information, go to Home Instead Senior Care Martinsburg.