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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.”
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
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
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.