February 2018 CAREGiver of the Month - Melody


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Melody’s Dad Modeled Compassion, Care for the NeedyMelody - February 2018 CAREGiver of the Month

The genesis of CAREGiver of the Month Melody Kissel’s compassionate, caring heart for those in need can be traced to the unincorporated Upstate New York village of Penn Yan, 315 miles north of Winchester, Virginia. That’s where Melody’s father took in three men with disabilities because they had nowhere else to go. One man was blind and had no family. Another, a gentle man named Melvin, lived at the house for 15 years before passing away.

“My core values came from my family, including my dad, a grandmother and an aunt. I took after Dad, who has such a huge heart. Everybody in town knows him and his heart,” Melody explained. “After my high school days, he sold our dairy farm and worked for a social services agency and drove the handicap bus.”

Following the example modeled by her father, Melody helped her grandmother take care of her grandfather as a family caregiver. “I was pretty close to my grandmother, my dad’s mother. Grandma would call me to help with Grandpa, because he could get cantankerous and get on her nerves sometimes. I would get there and ask Grandpa, ‘What are you doing, what’s going on?’ Grandpa liked to talk to me, and he taught me card games like black jack,” Melody said.

“Aunt Elaine, my dad’s sister, also helped grandmother, including the time after Grandpa died. She would take Grandma to her home in Rochester for two or three days at a time. My aunt and dad are still going strong. He will be 81 next month, and we plan to get together soon. Aunt Elaine helped people other than my grandmother, and she’s in her late 70s.”

Immediately after graduating from high school, Melody earned her CNA, worked at a facility during the day and did private-duty caregiving at night for an elderly woman. “I’ve been doing this kind of work for a long time,” noted Melody, who moved to Virginia in 2000, earned her state certification and worked in assisted living and skilled nursing facilities.

After she saw a television commercial for Home Instead Senior Care® of Winchester, she applied at the franchise that serves the Northern Shenandoah Valley, including 25 other communities in addition to Winchester. In June 2016, she joined owner Keith Clay’s franchise.

Melody said: “I like Home Instead because one-on-one care is better. In a facility, you cannot spend hardly any companionship time with the residents because most of the time is taken up with quick personal care. Sometimes, you’re taking care of 5 to 10 residents or more at a time. Some residents would ask, ‘Do you have to go?’ Then I felt bad. They had a sad look on their faces. I felt sorry for them, especially the residents who had no visitors. I tried to go back, but sometimes it was impossible.”

Home Instead Senior Care’s schedulers, knowing about Melody’s experienced senior-care skill set, have matched her with clients who face big challenges. One client had been living in a facility, checked himself out and went to live with a family member. “He did not want to be there at the facility, and I can’t blame him. He was strong-willed and independent. We got along. He had a nice smile, and I got him to laugh sometimes despite his circumstances,” Melody said.

Melody assisted the client at home for nearly 11 months before he passed away. “It still breaks my heart. It was a shocker, but in some ways, it wasn’t. He faced some very tough challenges and needed a lot of personal care, but he was a really nice gentleman. If I was on the floor, cleaning something, he’d try to help me get up even though he couldn’t. I worked hard for him,” Melody said. 

“He always awoke early, and when I came in the door, he was waiting and happy to see me. I’d fix him a big breakfast, which was the meal he enjoyed the most. At the end of the shift, he always asked if I could come back the next day. If I could not, I’d tell him the night before. Sometimes I would go in during the weekends and help. I know there will be other clients, and I am looking forward to helping them, too, but he is someone I’ll never forget.”

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​.​​​​​

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