Few senior-care situations surprise Keith Thompson, a two-time CAREGiver of the Month for Home Instead Senior Care® of Birmingham. Keith has been a CAREGiver since 2006 and was a hospital CNA before that.
One day, as Keith silently and intently watched, a hospice client worked his way through a coherent, one-sided discussion with an invisible person who seemed perhaps to be a dead relative. The stirring vocalization, more like a pep talk, included hand gestures and emotional facial expressions. Before dying, many people experience vivid and meaningful dreams and visions, according to accounts across cultures and throughout history. A study in the American Journal of Hospice & Palliative Care found that most of these dreams are a source of personal comfort. But in Keith’s case, the CAREGiver was shocked to learn two hours later the animated monologue was aimed at supporting and motivating the client’s granddaughter. “It was one of the most singular powerful moments I have gone through as a CAREGiver,” said Keith, the July CAREGiver of the Month for Bert and Stephanie Copple’s award-winning Home Instead Senior Care franchise. “I have had a lot of hospice clients, and sometimes they start talking to people who are not there. No big deal. I just listen politely.”Two hours later, when the client’s daughter and granddaughter came to visit, Keith mentioned the conversation. The granddaughter teared up and cried. “When the granddaughter told me her name, I blurted out, ‘Oh my God, you are a live person.’ It turns out that while I was observing the client before his granddaughter arrived, he was encouraging her to go to an elite music camp, the Interlochen Center for the Arts, which is like the ‘Juilliard School’ of Michigan,” Keith said. “She had been nervous and wasn’t sure she was good enough to go.” Keith added: “Was he hallucinating? He was speaking as if he were talking to a real person. They possibly had previous conversations about the same theme. He kept going over it when she was not there. It seemed to bring him peace. He said, ‘Don’t be afraid. Go for it!’ It was kind of spirited at times.” A week later, the client died. Noting that he meets “a lot of interesting people,” Keith said several current clients are making more memories for him as he skillfully assists them with activities of daily living. One of them met 1930s and ’40s American icon Glenn Miller, the big-band musician, arranger, composer and band leader. “My client knew Glenn Miller before he was famous, or as my client liked to say, ‘Before Glenn Miller became Glenn Miller.’ My client was a real character who had insight and was funny, too. I couldn’t wait to get to work,” Keith said. Companionship also is an educational two-way street with two brothers who are 24/7 clients. “They are movie buffs, and so am I. I can really relate to their passion,” Keith said. “They are into war documentaries, and I find them fascinating. I am learning something new about Adolph Hitler every time I am with them.” Keith likes the one-on-one care and flexibility Home Instead Senior Care offers. “It is a fantastic company from the word go. It is rare nowadays to hear people say they like their jobs, but I do. I like the people with whom I work, including clients, other CAREGivers and office staff. I am fortunate to have found the company and pleased to be working for them,” Keith said. He explained that “a perfect storm” brought him to Home Instead Senior Care. He had left his job as a hospital CNA after about a year and was looking for another CNA position. “In a hospital, you rush around a lot. There is little one-on-one time with patients,” he explained. “Just after I left my CNA job, a funny thing happened: Things got weird with the economy, and the health-care industry stopped hiring. I needed to maintain certain hours to keep my CNA licensing, but I lost it because of lack of hours. Then I found Home Instead Senior Care online. I was able to regain my CNA licensing by working with Home Instead.” When Keith joined Home Instead Senior Care, he said training was a good review and beneficial. “I got to experience caregiving from the ground up when I started, and I saw how they did it. The office is quick and responsive to questions. Bert is good people. I’d recommend Home Instead to a senior loved one’s family or someone who wants to work in senior care.”
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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