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March 2019 CAREGiver of the Month - Desirae S.

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Desirae Loves to Be NeededMarch 2019 CAREGiver of the Month - Desirae S.

“Desirae, you don’t know how much you mean to me.” The 90-year-old former client’s words have stuck with CAREGiver of the Month Desirae Shaw for weeks, possibly to be etched on her heart forever. They were spoken in late February, just days before the client moved to a skilled care community. She had assisted him for a couple of years.

“He was awesome. He was down-to-earth and laid-back, and we had a lot of good days together. He didn’t talk a lot, but he’d tell a good joke and chat about family. We had a lot of commonalities and a strong connection because my family is from West Virginia, and he’s from the same area,” Desirae said. “He definitely got comfortable with me, and his family liked me. He loved his home, and we loved keeping him there safely. I took him to physical therapy and medical appointments. He loved my breakfasts. He liked my bacon, eggs and toast.”

Once in a while, Desirae had overnight shifts, as well as 7 9 p.m. shifts and most recently 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. from Wednesday through Friday. “When he left, I was sad, and so were his other CAREGivers – we formed a 24/7 team for him,” Desirae said. “I have tried to not to get super close to the clients, but I usually can’t help it. It’s hard when they move or pass away. Part of the job is that we have to move on. Someone else always needs me.”

Desirae loves meeting new people and listening to stories. She said: “All of the clients have good stories. I hear, ‘Back in the day. …’ They recall when gas was 30 cents a gallon. A lot of them are still old-fashioned in many ways, and I was raised that way. I am 30, but I know the old-time classic TV shows the clients like, such as ‘M*A*S*H’ and ‘The Andy Griffith  Show.’ ”

Desirae joined Home Instead Senior Care in August 2016 after “a friend of a friend” told her about the award-winning franchise that serves Northern Shenandoah Valley. “I worked at a factory and wanted a change, a different challenge. I had been doing both jobs part time until last year around Christmas. Sometimes it can be challenging to be a CAREGiver and family caregiver. In our house, there’s my husband, a grandmother and an uncle,” she noted.

Desirae described the career change as a way to get back to her roots. “Years ago,” she said, “I went to school and became a CNA. I did private-duty caregiving for a while. By taking this job, I wanted to get back into medical care or caregiving. Home Instead training helped me a lot. Some material was like a CNA refresher course and review. I learned some new things: use of a Hoyer lift and other personal-care techniques.”

Desirae has four regular clients, an average of one client per day. She has worked shifts as short as three hours or as long as 14 hours. She tries to take Fridays and Sundays off, but will accept fill-ins with regular clients if their other CAREGivers can’t make it. “When someone calls,” she said, “I try to come.”

Actually, Desirae has been called to assist other CAREGivers when one of her regular clients becomes a challenge. The 93-year-old client is “a sweet lady who can have mood swings.” Desirae has responded to the calls and calms the client. “I smooth it over. She has high anxiety, and dementia is part of it. Usually, little things ‘are wrong.’ During my own shifts, when there is a little outburst, I wait and let it play out until it is done. I know her routine and am not offended by anything. I redirect her, and sometimes I’ll softly say, ‘That wasn’t very nice,’ but nothing to trigger her and let it escalate.”

Sometimes, Desirae helps with clients’ pets. One has a Yorkie terrier, and another one has a cat. A fairly new client wants to help Desirae with housekeeping, and since the client can do it safely, Desirae encourages the independence and a feeling of camaraderie and teamwork.

“I’ve been with her about a month. We’re slowly getting acquainted. She tries to keep busy. She’ll say, ‘Let’s make the bed.’ We get the separate sides. She does a morning routine, including dusting the lampshades. She once said: ‘We did a good thing. I love it.’ There is interaction when we do those things,” Desirae said. 

The client’s husband died in January. He’d been ill, was living at the house and Home Instead CAREGivers were assisting them both when he was there. “I take her to the cemetery twice a month to visit his grave. She talks about her husband and gets upset, so I comfort her,” she said.

Asked to describe a good day at work, Desirae said, “It’s pretty simple: I love it when a client’s face glows.” She added: “I love giving and getting respect. It’s good work I love doing.”

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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