CAREGiver of the Month - Donna

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Client Wishes Donna Were Her Daughter

The 87-year-old widow doesn’t think of Donna Kerbrat as a CAREGiver. In fact, the adventurous client doesn’t even want Donna to wear her Home Instead Senior Care® polo when they go out on the town during Donna’s visits. 

To the client, Donna has been much more than a helper and companion for the past six years. As they visit grocery stores, shops, restaurants and the client’s beauty salon, people will ask if Donna is the client’s daughter. The client’s answer? “I wish Donna were my daughter. But, no, we’re good friends,” notes the senior, whose own daughter is deceased.

It’s an understatement to say Donna and her client know each other well. 

“Ever since I started with her, she likes to get out of her house and go. We recently went to a grocery store to get a poinsettia. She still does well on her walker. I am familiar with her likes and dislikes when I am doing meal preparation, and I know her habits,” said Donna, who was selected in December as a CAREGiver of the Month for the second time at the Home Instead Senior Care franchise in Birmingham that serves southeast Oakland County. Her first honor came in December 2012.

Two other CAREGivers join Donna on a team that assists the client five days a week. “We try to keep it to the same ones because she’s most comfortable with that,” Donna said. “She does not have dementia but is becoming more forgetful, and she realizes it. One thing she has not lost is her concern for others. I was pruning back her peonies during a recent chilly day. She told me to come in because she was afraid I would get pneumonia. But she cannot do it, and I don’t mind.” 

Two other regular clients don’t want anyone else if Donna is not available, which would be a rarity because she has never called in sick during her seven years with the franchise. 

One is a 79-year-old dialysis patient who began the treatments 13 months ago. For two of the three weekly treatments, Donna drives the client to the medical facility and goes to work. At her client’s home, Donna performs light housekeeping and takes care of the client’s two dogs. She also runs errands and buys groceries, and returns to take the client home. 

“It is a trust factor. I have been with her for 2½ years, and she doesn’t want anybody else in her home when she’s gone,” Donna said. “There is quite a bit to do. During growing season, I did weeding because she’s got a lot of flowers. With every client, I get to know them and what they want and need. I tell them when I am at the grocery store for myself, and, if I see something I know they’d like, I will get it for them.”

For her third client, the Thursday visits often are the 87-year-old widow’s only life line to the outside world. Her son died some time ago, and a niece who was helping her has been ill. “I am her connection to get her out of the house. Maybe only twice since I started with her 2½ years ago, we have not gotten out – once because she was sick. One sunny spring day, I just drove her around and looked at flowers – no errands or shopping.”

That simple act, one that brought so much joy to the client, is among the reasons Donna has been a CAREGiver since 2009. “I enjoy being a CAREGiver. I am sometimes tired at the end of the day, but it is very rewarding to make a difference in someone’s life,” said Donna, who spent 26 years with a financial institution before being let go in 2007.

“I am appreciated by the clients and by the staff, and that’s no small thing. It is a very open company, and you don’t find a lot of those. It is a lot different from working in a credit union. The company has banquets and other functions for the CAREGivers – like the recent bowling night – and that means a lot.”

Donna pointed out that Home Instead Senior Care does a good job of matching CAREGivers and clients. For instance, two of her clients share the same love for crocheting that she has.  

Donna weaves her compassion into another passion, volunteering for Project Linus, a nonprofit organization that provides homemade blankets to homeless or needy children in the Detroit area. “I’ve been doing it for the past seven or eight years because I really love knitting and crocheting, and helping out those who are in need,” she said. “I average about 30 or 40 blankets a year.”

Years ago, Donna’s knitting came in handy with one of her clients, who tried to recall stitching techniques from her younger days with Donna’s help. “The client was recovering from a heart attack, and she tapped into the stitching part of knitting as a form of rehabilitation,” Donna recalled. “It was a really good form of therapy.”

​Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of in-home services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call (248) 203-2273 or email Anne Monaghan. For further information about the company, visit our Home Instead Senior Care website or to learn more about the company’s services link to our home care digital brochure.


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