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February 2019 CAREGiver of the Month - Donnie T.


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Donnie Entered Client’s World to Provide CompanionshipFebruary 2019 CAREGiver of the Month - Donnie T.

CAREGiver of the Month Donnie Tasker enters a client’s world to provide assistance, and sometimes that world is a long-ago reality. “A CAREGiver must adapt to the client. Each journey is different. A dementia client sometimes will draw on a memory that brings comfort in an otherwise confused life,” Donnie said. 

As a companion for a former client who lived in a nursing home, Donnie embraced the client’s fishing-trip invitations. “I’d pretend to be fishing with him. We’d go to a common room, and that was our body of water. His wheelchair was his boat. We’d make the motions of casting out a line. He’d see wheelchair residents go by and say, ‘Those boats are going too fast.’ I’d take the fish off his hook because he didn’t want to grab the fish or hook for some reason. He was living in his moment, and I was there, too,” Donnie said.

The former client sometimes said: “I wish my son could join us,” and other times he thought it was raining as they fished. Donnie said: “It was an enjoyable time for us. We’d usually fish for 45 minutes. When lunch time came, he’d say, ‘Let’s reel in and go eat.’ Sometimes he thought he was in a restaurant, and other times he realized we were heading to the dining room.”

Suddenly, the former client’s health declined in about two weeks’ time. “We were ‘fishing’ on a Saturday, and he was in bed the next day. “When I left his room 13 days later, I told the nurses I wasn’t sure I’d see him again. He died an hour and a half later.”

Losing a client with whom Donnie had bonded in a unique way was difficult, but remembering their time together made Donnie’s work fulfilling. “I am a caring, nurturing person by nature, and I am at my best and happiest when I can help someone. That’s why this is a good job,” said Donnie, who joined Home Instead Senior Care® of Winchester in February 2017.

“These are my priorities as a Christian: Jesus is first, others are second and I am third. There is fulfillment from keeping that perspective,” added Donnie, whose Home Instead franchise serves the Northern Shenandoah Valley.

Donnie fits his Home Instead Senior Care job around a school position in which he serves as a special-needs aide on a bus, working from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. and from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. each school day. Five friends who have held school-bus positions also worked for Home Instead Senior Care, drawing Donnie’s interest in applying. While his father has passed away, and his mother is in good health, Donnie has helped elderly relatives and friends’ family members. But he had never worked previously in professional senior care.

Donnie assists one client from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., and he works overnights Friday and Saturday, from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. “Between my two jobs, I am working mostly seven days a week – with Home Instead, it is usually four days a week. My energy level is good,” Donnie said.

Asked about memorable Home Instead situations, Donnie said: “Every day is different and has its owns blessings and challenges.” He often jokes with a client who is a Navy veteran. Said Donnie: “I call him ‘Admiral,’ and he loves it. He was not an admiral, but we joke that if he had stayed in the Navy long enough and if he had wanted to be an admiral, he could have been.”

One client went to an assisted-living facility for two weeks because his daughter took a trip. Before the daughter left, her dad said: “Make sure you tell Donnie where I am so he can come visit me.” The CAREGiver has visited, saying, “When you get bonded with a client, it is sweet.”

Working with hospice clients has tugged at Donnie’s emotions. “For one gentleman, I was his first CAREGiver. Family or friends were there during the day. I spent the night, comforting him during a 12-hour shift. He’d raise his hand for me to hold it, and I’d grab it. He’d get some sleep before needing more medication. When I came on the shift, his diction was clear, and we’d talk,”  Donnie said. He noted if a CAREGiver is observant, he or she can learn how to comfort people in just about every situation: “As the challenges have come along, I’ve grown as a CAREGiver.”

Sometimes, Donnie said with a chuckle, it pays to be a strong CAREGiver with a good frame. “I sometimes go to a bigger client, 6-foot-2, 240 pounds, and there is a knack to transferring him from wheelchair to recliner. We stand up and shuffle two steps to the right, almost like a dance step. His legs gave out once, but I didn’t fall, so he didn’t fall. I swung him, and his daughter positioned the chair for his landing. As he sat down, he said, ‘I sure am glad you were here. A smaller CAREGiver wouldn’t have worked today. Everybody would have fallen.’ I said, ‘No, sir, not on my watch — you’re not falling.’ ”

Donnie added: “That’s how I receive joy. I see myself as a CAREGiver for years to come.”

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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