Read about CAREGiver Stephaine, regional CAREGiver of the Year from Mike Maguire's office in Fort Collins, Colorado. She's one of the eight finalist for 2018 North American CAREGiver of the Year.
“OK, now give me a hug!”
CAREGiver Stephaine said to her client. This was a technique Stephanie often used to steady her client’s body and help her safely onto the commode. Her client smiled, wrapped her arms around Stephanie and, this time, leaned in to kiss her on the cheek.
She was one of Stephanie’s regulars, a feisty Italian woman whose gum infection made it more and more difficult to speak as the days went by. Still, the client maintained her graciousness and sense of humor.
“For some reason, this client would always hide napkins under her plates at the dinner table. One day, she took them out, balled them up and threw them at me, while shouting ‘I got ya!’” Stephanie recalled.
She just laughed and laughed. Stephanie and this client had a special bond. One morning, Stephanie went to the client’s bedside to help her up, and the client said, “Thank you so much for all your good care.”
That was the last thing she said to anyone.
It’s moments like this and relationships like these that make Stephanie feel fulfilled as a Home Instead CAREGiver. Stephanie joined Home Instead about eight years ago, but she developed a love for helping seniors long before that.
Stephanie, a single mom of three, worked as a painter most of her life. Her brother, a massage therapist and CNA, worked as a private caregiver for a couple at the same time. Stephanie got to know the couple very well through her brother and would sometimes pick up his shifts when he needed a helping hand and she needed some extra cash. She took to caregiving like a fish to water, but she wasn’t in a position financially to leave her career as a painter at the time.
“I always kept it in the back of my mind as something I would like to pursue.”
Fast forward several years to when Stephanie had to stop painting because of the physical demands of the trade. When the time came to walk away, Stephanie worked various other jobs, from retail management to city service, before finding her place at Home Instead.
And now that she’s found her place, she plans to stay.
“Each year, when I go in for my yearly review, my boss asks me if I plan to stay with Home Instead, and I always say, ‘You’re stuck with me – good, bad or otherwise.’ I adore Home Instead, the people I work with and my boss.”
Stephanie has proven her dedication to Home Instead and her clients time and time again.
Another example happened in 2013, when she cared for a couple who lived in Estes Park. She stayed with them for a week at a time, and they became very dear to her, like her own parents. That September, a devastating flood hit, eroding the roads and causing a very large mess in the city. When her shift ended, she couldn’t go home. She stayed there for three weeks without even batting an eyelash.
Her client grew frustrated with the storm. He wanted to get out and help his friends, but he was nearly blind from glaucoma and couldn’t see what was going on. Stephanie would sit on the deck with him and describe what she saw. She’d reassure him people were working on it.
Eventually, the storm cleared up, but the client still called on Stephanie for her sight.
“He and I worked out a system in his closet to help him find clothes that matched. It took him a while to get the hang of it, but once he did it made his life much easier. It was those little things we did to make his life easier, if only for a short time.”
The client has since passed, but Stephanie will never forget him.
It’s all these things – big and small – Stephanie does to help her clients’ live their last years with dignity that earned her the title of CAREGiver of Year for the West Region. Stephanie is humbled by the recognition, and says it’s an honor and shock to be recognized for what she knows all Home Instead CAREGivers do every day.
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