A client's daughter pulled CAREGiver of the Month Ernika aside during a holiday gathering last December, when Ernika met out-of-town family members for the first time while working for award-winning Home Instead Senior Care® of Metairie.
The daughter, who lives in Kentucky, whispered: "Thank you! Mom talks about you all the time and what you do. Among other things, she told us no one has washed her back like you do. It means so much that you take care of her like you do, and we trust and depend on you. Believe me, she would not say all of those things if she did not mean it – she can be hard to please."
Ernika fought to keep her emotions in check – "I am a lot like my parents in that way," said Ernika, who joined Home Instead on June 8, 2015, after an online search. Just as she did with the client, Ernika immediately felt at home with owner Lisa Rabito's franchise. "From the first conversation, the office drew me in because they are chipper, really nice and very sweet," Ernika said. "I researched them and found what they stood for – their principles – and it is true. In addition to that, they care as much for their CAREGivers as they do for their clients."
Ernika loves being a CAREGiver. "It is an absolutely great joy to work with seniors. I got a taste of offering this type of assistance while helping my mother with her medical challenges when I was 17 and 18 and still in high school. At the end of each CAREGiver shift, I get great pleasure out of the compliments, and it is fulfilling to see the smiles on my clients' faces."
Ernika has four regular clients and does some fill-in work, and she goes above and beyond the call of duty. One day, when an 89-year-old client asked Ernika if she could add another hour to her shift for Christmas and grocery shopping, Ernika quickly agreed and called the office for permission. "The next day, I helped with the wrapping," Ernika said. "Grocery shopping can take time because my client loves to check the nutrition labels, but I do not rush her. She loves my patience, but I wouldn't want it any other way. I treat her just like I would treat my own parents."
Ernika also likes to help take care of the client's cat, "Beggar." "Beggar is a stray that her client found near her home, took in and nurtured. The cat was always begging for food, so she called him 'Beggar,' " Ernika said. "Beggar is easy to take care of. Pets mean so much to seniors, especially if they live alone like my client does. Sometimes she might not see anyone else for the rest of the day after I leave. Beggar is like family."
Ernika also feels as though Home Instead Senior Care and her clients are like family: "I am staying with them. I have to – I bought every available color of the work shirts. Seriously, it's a good company, and I love it."
All Home Instead CAREGivers are screened, trained, bonded and insured. For inquiries about employment, please call 504-455-4911 or apply online.
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