CAREGiver of the Month - Patty

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Injury Gave Patty Good Perspective on Clients’ Challenges​​

Patty Duda’s clients agree: The CAREGiver of the Month might be the most patient person they know. Truth be told, an already forbearing Patty was compelled to embrace the virtue even more several years ago because she had no choice.

“I suffered a broken ankle, so I have felt the loss of independence. My mobility was limited, and so were my options. I could not drive for a while, so I was dependent on others for transportation. I needed grab bars and rails in the bathroom, among a number of things. So I get it – I understand how many seniors have to cope. I learned to go slowly, and I learned to have more patience,” said Patty, who has worked for the award-winning Home Instead Senior Care® franchise of Birmingham for five years.  

“As a result of my experience, I do not mind if my clients take a long time to do something. I tell them, ‘I get it. Take as much time as you need.’ I want them to maintain as much independence as they safely can. I tell my clients: ‘I will always be with you. And, whatever your challenges or needs are, we’ll figure it out and solve it.’ ” 

Lessons in patience also came when Patty and her husband helped one of their three sons bounce back from a traumatic dirt-bike accident that required a rescue in a medical helicopter. “He spent six days in the hospital, and we brought him home for a couple of months to convalesce. He had crutches and needed shower help, among other things,” Patty said. “I also helped both of my parents, who have both passed away. In addition, I assist a friend who has a debilitating illness.”

Patty believes humor goes hand-in-hand with patience. Smiles, laughter and joking can make a challenging situation tolerable. “Humor is how you connect with clients. Sometimes when we are on the move, I will laugh and say, ‘I’ll race you!’ Then they laugh,” Patty said. 

“Also important is to take time with a client and have a good chat. Chores need to be done and always do get done, but the companionship should not be ignored because the human touch is important. There are a lot of memorable times with clients, but the times I remember most are the ones when we have laughed together. My clients can make me laugh hard as I can do the same for them. We laugh about anything in general, real belly laughs.” 

Patty also pointed out: “When humor, music, singing and artwork are in action, you are using the creative side of your brain. It is the right side. The left side of the brain generates logic, analytical thought, science and math. It’s good when everyone uses both sides. For dementia clients, especially, I try to get them to use the right side, even if it’s just humor.”

The former surgical technician and stay-at-home mom explained how she learned about Home Instead. “One of the CAREGivers also worked at a store near my home. When we were talking one day, she told me about being a CAREGiver, and I thought I would enjoy that kind of work. She has been a CAREGiver for at least 10 years, and that’s her only job now,” Patty explained. 

The Home Instead Senior Care training, Patty said, was “absolutely helpful.” She added: “My family caregiving was a good background, but you need so much more. Understanding the rules of what we do is key. One of the bigger challenges is dementia care. Repetition may bother family members, but it is important for me to listen to clients and acknowledge their words every time. The art of redirection is really helpful, and I learned those techniques in the Alzheimer’s training class. Still, the two main qualities are patience and humor.” 

To Patty, one of the biggest advantages to working for Home Instead Senior Care is the peace of mind she has when she cannot be with a client because she trusts any CAREGiver who steps in for her. That confidence, combined with job flexibility, makes the job a great one. “We have two grandchildren nearby, so I do some babysitting in addition to caregiving. I am working the hours I want,” Patty said.  

A drawback is losing clients to nursing homes or death. “It is a lot like losing a family member, but I have my faith and a good support system with my family. Our office is supportive, and our owner, Bert Copple, is a chaplain. He provides encouragement. Funerals are celebrations of their lives and not so much deep mourning. It is important to remember the good times,” she said.​

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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