A newspaper advertisement impacted Peggy Shrimpton's life nearly two years ago.
"That ad led me to Home Instead Senior Care® of Winchester, and I am forever grateful because it has truly been a rewarding experience. I was fairly new to Virginia and had not met many people. It has been a wonderful experience. I have met so many interesting people who have shared their stories and experiences," said Peggy, a Middletown resident who recently was honored as the award-winning franchise's CAREGiver of the Month.
Peggy, who was born and raised in Texas, moved to Virginia five years ago. When she joined Home Instead Senior Care in August 2018, Peggy worked part time, mostly nights and weekends. "I had worked for Warren Public Schools during the day, but I decided not to go back to the schools and worked full time for Home Instead," Peggy explained.
It was Peggy's first professional senior-care job during a career in which she worked 25 years for a telecommunications company, for whom she served as the executive secretary for a division vice president and his staff. Peggy also was a telephone operator, field drafter, church secretary and bookkeeper. A person of many skills, Peggy also is a compassionate soul who instinctively knows how to provide aid and comfort to those in need.
"I've always been a caregiver at heart. As a family caregiver, I have cared for my two daughters, my mother who had Alzheimer's disease and my husband who had diabetes and kidney failure," Peggy revealed. "Unfortunately, my mom passed away in 2009, and I lost my husband in 2011. I miss them both terribly."
Home Instead Senior Care, Peggy said, provided a smooth entry into the elder-care field. "The orientation was great. It was informative, and they went over things I hadn't thought to ask. Home Instead has a great staff. My training sessions have all been above expectations. Nurse Carol is a jewel. Not only is she knowledgeable, but she makes training fun," Peggy said. "The staff is very good at communicating information to us, even weather and traffic conditions."
Seniors perhaps have never faced a bigger single health threat than the one posed by the novel coronavirus, also known as the COVID-19 virus. Home Instead Senior Care franchises, including the ones in Winchester and Martinsburg, have been front and center with their assistance and protection for clients and their family members since the beginning of the outbreak last winter. Peggy's association with a benevolent organization has been helpful to Home Instead staff and clients as a source of one form of personal protective equipment.
"My Rotary Club has made more than 1,500 masks since March, and I have distributed some of them to clients and staff. Our clients don't always have the resources to acquire protective gear, and some don't understand the situation. So, keeping them informed but not scaring them has been a challenge," Peggy said.
Peggy and other CAREGivers follow Home Instead procedures and protocol to keep their clients as safe as possible.
"Some of my clients have no family. In some cases, no one lives close by a client, so I may be the only person he or she sees all day. I enjoy reading to them or helping them stay active both physically and mentally," Peggy said.
"The clients who I have had the privilege to serve have been the most interesting people. I love hearing their stories of their life experiences. I've served lots of retired military with captivating stories from war experiences and world travel."
One of Peggy's clients has a fascinating story about working at the prestigious Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, with one of the first cardiopulmonary bypass machines. During open-heart surgery, the mechanism takes over for the heart by replacing the heart's pumping action and by adding oxygen to the blood. The machine allows the heart to be still for the operation, which is necessary for the delicate surgery.
Peggy said: "He told me the designers studied a milking machine and fashioned it somewhat after that. He ran the machine for 20 years and said they never lost a patient because of machine failure. They lost some patients, of course, but not because of the machine."
Peggy loves being a part of the CAREGiver team for the Winchester franchise, a member of a highly successful network founded in 1994 in Omaha, Nebraska, by Paul and Lori Hogan. Peggy is among more than 90,000 CAREGivers, and she has helped add to those numbers because of her strong belief in Home Instead's purpose. It isn't hard to see Peggy lives the Home Instead Senior Care® principles of "Build Trust, Take the Lead and Share Your Heart."
"I love working for Home Instead and don't anticipate making any changes," Peggy said.