From cracking jokes to joining a client in a solemn prayer, CAREGiver Vickie Newsome always tries to generate a smile or provide a measure of comfort.
"I try to keep the atmosphere light, and that is no small thing sometimes with the challenges that seniors face. I want to get the clients' minds on something else if the situation calls for it. With my funny gestures, I enjoy helping people feel better," said Vickie, the October 2018 CAREGiver of the Month for the Home Instead Senior Care® franchise of Winchester that serves Virginia's Northern Shenandoah Valley.
Vickie "made a funny" without realizing it while serving breakfast one day. Her client started laughing and pointing at her plate that had halves of a sliced hard-boiled egg and several strategically placed bacon strips. "She noticed a happy face with the long-ways halves of the sliced egg that were spaced apart enough to look like eyes and bacon positioned so that they looked like a smile. It was unintentional on my part, and she was so happy about it that I continue to present her breakfast that way," Vickie said.
On the serious side, Vickie has helped clients with their faith. "I weigh a situation carefully when I get to know a client. They have to want to discuss their faith. At that point, I help them practice their faith if they ask. That can be done with prayer, reading the Bible or talking about their faith. I feel fortunate to be able to be with clients who are in their last days and hours because I want to be a source of comfort," Vickie said.
"I have a cell phone app for the Bible (called YouVersion), and I keep it in mind if the client wants to reference Scripture. I can turn on the app, and we can listen to or read the Bible. I also carry pamphlets if they have questions. If the door is open and the heart is receptive, I try to help them. I live for the Lord, and nothing could be better than helping someone into heaven."
Vickie recalled a faith-based client who went to a hospice center and became non-responsive. Vickie said: "I stood and prayed over her one day because I sensed the end was near. Within 30 minutes after I left, she passed away. I got the goosebumps. There was a sadness, but there also was a peace because she was no longer suffering. To me, it felt like a lifting of heaviness. God answers prayers, which gives me comfort. I hope it does the same with the clients."
Vickie added: "Faith in God is important to my life. I've been going to church since I was knee high to a June bug. My granddaddy built a church in Georgia, where I was born. They used the trees on my grandparents' land for the wood to construct the church."
Vickie, who joined Home Instead Senior Care on May 27, 2015, felt it was no coincidence she found a company whose core values include "honoring God in all we do." After Vickie moved back to Winchester from North Carolina, Vickie's daughter-in-law told her about Home Instead because her mother had worked as a CAREGiver.
"My caregiving background goes back to when I was 15 years old, when I had a worker's permit but no CNA schooling yet. I went to work for a nursing home in Manassas, Virginia, where they had on-the-job training. I later went back and earned my CNA license. I have taken care of many people in my life, including my mom and dad before their passing. I've worked in care communities, hospitals and group homes. I did private-duty work for friends and their parents."
Vickie loves Home Instead, its flexibility and its client-CAREGiver matches. "Since I have seven grandchildren, I babysit as needed. If I have to take off from work to watch grandchildren, Home Instead will cover my shifts. I love the office because they've been super to me, cooperative and loving. Of course, I've been super to them and taken fill-in shifts," Vickie said.
"I love the clients. Every one of them has a different personality. One is an 86-year-old former nurse who feeds three or four squirrels. She goes to the door with a can of peanuts and shakes the can, and they come running to the bannister on the porch. I keep a close eye, but she's been feeding them for a long time and handles it well. It's worth a chuckle."
At this point in her life, Vickie said, she has no reason to work anywhere else. "I know this is what I'm supposed to be 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.
Home Instead offers free monthly newsletters with tips and advice for caregivers of elderly loved ones.