Whether Allison Koniseiwicz reads Scripture to a bedbound client, takes a client to Walmart where they explore the aisles for two hours or sits and chats with a client, it is a fulfilling day for the CAREGiver of the Month at Home Instead Senior Care® of Winchester.
"My job is rewarding. I like getting my clients to smile as I do the little things to help them. By doing this, I feel I am helping give back in my community," said Allison, who in August 2017 joined the award-winning Home Instead franchise that serves Northern Shenandoah Valley.
"Not only do the clients benefit, but many families are helped, too. There are opportunities for family members to catch their breath or go on errands for the three or four hours I am with their loved ones."
Allison assists three regular clients now, but she lost a longtime client last April when his courageous battle with Lou Gehrig's disease sadly ended. Allison was assigned to the 82-year-old client a few months after she had completed a Home Instead Senior Care class and received her state certification as a Personal Care Aide (PCA) a year and a half ago.
"I read about Lou Gehrig's disease and gained as much knowledge as I could. I am thankful I could help him and his family, who were faith-based and had positive outlooks. He liked to talk, and we connected just as his wife and I did," Allison said. "It was rewarding. His wife said he wanted things done a certain way and quickly. He enjoyed having me work with him because I followed his wishes. I felt he was easy to take care of."
Allison added: "Although he was confined to his bed or a wheelchair, he could move his hands and wanted to do a few things for himself. He shaved and brushed his teeth. He liked having me read Scripture or my Bible study material to him. He once wanted me to come to a family picnic, and although I could not go, I was happy because it was the thought that counted. It is sad to lose him and his family."
Another of Allison's current clients is 92 and has dementia. "By helping the client, I help his wife so she can get groceries and other shopping. He's really funny and likes to joke around. But sometimes I need to refocus him. Even though he knows me most of the time, when he wakes up from a nap, sometimes he'll ask: 'Who are you?' He likes Hallmark Channel movies, so I'll watch them with him," Allison said.
Ironically, Allison was watching the Hallmark Channel when she saw a commercial for Home Instead Senior Care and decided to check out the company. "When I saw the Home Instead website, I thought I could help the elderly in our community," Allison recalled.
"I had not worked in professional senior care. My background is in biology, but I did not work at all for about eight years because I have three children. They are all in school now, and I needed something to do. In addition to Home Instead, I work in our church daycare with toddlers and babies on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. When needed, I also fill in at the church nursery on Sundays, which I've been doing for four years."
Allison's mother, father and other family members live six hours away in New York, where Allison grew up. "My mom has not been diagnosed with dementia yet, but it's starting to look like that. I use my Home Instead training to help her when she visits. When Mom is here, I must give her my full attention," Allison said.
One of the franchise's ongoing training classes is the Home Instead Senior Care network's Alzheimer's Disease or Other Dementias CARE: Changing Aging Through Research and Education® Training Program. CAREGivers who are trained in the CARE program have a passion to work with dementia clients and receive ongoing classroom training and testing. "All of the ongoing training classes are helpful," Allison said.
"I love what I do. It brings joy to my heart."
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 .