“Faccia bella.” It is Italian for “beautiful face.”
That’s what a client, the daughter of Italian immigrants, called Janet Curti, the CAREGiver of the Month for Home Instead Senior Care® of Birmingham, Michigan. The 87-year-old dementia client could never remember Janet’s name, but she could never forget her face and compassionate care. Even weeks after the client moved to a facility and no longer had Home Instead service, the words easily flowed immediately from her smiling lips when Janet dropped by for a visit … “faccia bella!”
“The client has one of the most beautiful hearts I have ever met outside of my own mother and aunts. She had a twinkle in her eye, and wanted to laugh constantly and have fun. She loves people and is upbeat,” Janet said. “She was repetitive in associating my son’s name, Dominic, with her father’s name, and we got a thrill out of it. I never grew tired of it – it was special.
“Another client, a 91-year-old sweet lady, bought a package of cookies for me because she wanted to show her affection. It was totally unnecessary, but it touched my heart. I meet the sweetest, loveliest people in this job, which I believe benefits me more than it does them.”
Janet graduated with honors from college with an information systems degree and worked for a major automaker as a computer programmer before she and her husband began their family of two girls and a boy. While she has an analytical bent, Janet also was cut out of caregiving cloth because she grew up in a tightly knit family in Warren where an aunt also lived with Janet, her parents and three brothers in a small house. “We enjoyed each other. My heart breaks for those who have outlived family and friends,” said Janet, who helped her mother before she died 11 years ago and continues to assist her 87-year-old father who lives with one of her brothers.
Janet said helping her clients is like being with her parents, aunts and uncles. “Mom was my best friend in the world. My parents instilled faith in me, and I can feel the support of God and family members who have gone on – perhaps a village of family in heaven,” Janet said. “Even now, when problems arise, I quote from my parents when I tell others, ‘Give it to God.’ ”
She feels some clients’ faith, admires their beliefs and draws on their strength. One story, in particular, touched her: “A client could not find her watch, and I told her I’d look for it. I eventually found it tucked away in a spot where she previously had looked. She wondered how she could have missed it, so it seemed a bit mysterious. I told her I asked Bob – her late husband – to help me find it. We both agreed it felt as if he was there, and it was an uplifting moment. Now when we lose something, we ask Bob. Sometimes he helps us and sometimes not. She is a sweet lady, and I’m fortunate to know other clients like her with so much faith.” Janet’s fast friendships with clients, she pointed out, are partly the result of a Home Instead office staff that makes great matches in addition to fostering an atmosphere of teamwork, closeness and calmness. “It is interesting how the office finds the right mix. They seem to have a sixth sense for matches,” Janet said.
Janet also uses the words “appreciation” and “flexibility” when talking about the office staff. “I feel guilty when I call off to stay home with sick children. The office says, ‘It happens, don’t worry about it – we’ll find a fill-in.’ The job accommodation is great because of the flexibility; I could always work more if I was able to do that.
“Our staff nurse, Client Care Manager Susan Walker, sent me a card after visiting one of my new clients and wrote, ‘You are doing great with this client. She appreciates the way you are helping her. Thank you for all you do.’ Getting a card from Susan was like receiving a million dollars. It was priceless and an affirmation that I am doing the right thing.”
Summing up her first 12 months with Home Instead, Janet said: “It has been a great year. I have made a lot of new friends who include clients, family members, CAREGivers and the staff. It is a growing experience. I feel privileged to be part of their lives. When the clients are looking forward to seeing me each time, it feels good.
“When I went online to look for part-time jobs where I could make a difference, this is what came up. I enjoy helping people and being part of their lives. When I get up in the morning, I know I will be doing something that is good and fulfilling.”
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 at anne.monaghan@homeinstead. For further information about the company, visit http://www.homeinstead.com/283/Pages/HomeInsteadSeniorCare.aspx, or to learn more about the company’s services link to a digital brochure at http://www.hisc283.digbro.com/.
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