CAREGiver of the Month - Barbara Pennington

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Barbara Helps Client Achieve Coveted Independence

Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, there is no celebration when a CAREGiver loses a client. Most often, it means the senior was forced to move to a facility or perhaps even passed away.

But CAREGiver of the Month Barbara Pennington was bursting with pride when a client in her 70s recently discontinued service because her condition had improved so greatly that she could live on her own. There was no doubt Barbara could take a bow for helping the client bounce back from a heart attack that had hospitalized her in January. In fact, the client and her husband expressed their gratitude for the assistance from Barbara and her fellow CAREGivers.

"This is about a success story, and that's what caregiving is all," said Barbara, a CAREGiver with Home Instead Senior Care® of Birmingham since January 2004. "When she came home, Home Instead came aboard because she couldn't walk or do much. Our service eventually was cut back to a daily three-hour shift as she improved.

"At the start, I helped from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and we had other CAREGivers for other times of the day. Her husband handled the overnight. We tried to keep him from becoming overwhelmed."

Barbara's caregiving philosophy is tied to a Bible verse, Matthew 7:12, which says: "So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you ... "

"Even in the most difficult of situations, I practice the Golden Rule. It is natural for me to treat people right, with respect," Barbara said.

Barbara approaches each caregiving situation as if the clients were her family members. In fact, she got into caregiving because of her mother, who had suffered a stroke. "A girlfriend taught me how to be a family caregiver when I was trying to help my mother," Barbara said.

She later became a CNA in 2001 in Chicago, where she lived for 30 years. After her mother died in February 2003, Barbara was married Sept. 16, 2003, and moved to the Detroit area with her husband later that year. "I found Home Instead with the help of one of my husband's friends," she recalled.

"Becoming a CNA first and, later a CAREGiver, caregiving took over as my passion after my mom passed. I enjoy older people and their stories. I like being a help to someone. Seniors are very special people. I love them. I learn a lot from them. Many clients admire me. I try to keep their homes organized so I can keep them cleaned better. That is important for more reasons than one – giving them a clean, organized home also gives them their dignity and helps them feel as if they are important."

Barbara is among the CAREGivers who receive the toughest cases. "For those who have dementia," she said, "I know their sometimes-difficult behavior is not personal. They don't mean it. It doesn't matter how they treat me. It does matter to me how I treat them. This could be me with dementia. I feel great when I can help someone with the greatest needs."

Fellow CAREGivers and the office staff, Barbara said, also help make the job a fulfilling one. "I have worked with other outstanding CAREGivers, including at least twice with 2013 CAREGiver of the Year Arnetta Stokes," Barbara said. "Sometimes it will be several months before I see some of the CAREGivers because each situation is different, but it's always nice to work with them. We hug each other when we do get together.

"The staff is exceptionally nice and friendly, works together well and makes you feel important. They give you incentives. You are rewarded for taking last-minute fill-in shifts. Our boss, Bert Copple, is really nice, and I like him. He did some caregiving, just like we do, before he became the owner after Tina and Tom Rowley retired."

Barbara is looking forward to extending another miracle before cutting back her hours as she approaches retirement. A 100-year-old client has been on hospice for about four months and was not expected to live past his birthday last January because of a fall that injured his hip. But he has held his own with help from Barbara and other CAREGivers. Barbara has been with him since March as part of a seven–person, 24/7 team.

"He is still in his home," Barbara said, with the sound of triumph in her voice. "I am with him Sunday nights, Wednesdays and Thursday nights, along with some day shifts as fill-in. He has lots of good stories; he's a former aeronautics engineer who is very smart and could do anything with electronics. He is a very strong-willed man."

And the client has a very good CAREGiver in his corner, Barbara Pennington.

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call (248) 203-2273 or email Anne Monaghan at anne.monaghan@homeinstead. For further information about the company, visit or to learn more about the company's services link to a digital brochure at


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