Doing what's necessary. Generating friendships. Earning trust. … And getting
the lowdown on movie plots and creating an in-house spa atmosphere.
Award-winning CAREGiver Mary Collins has done it all for the Home Instead Senior
Care® franchise of Livonia and Westland. Ask the Detroit resident how she
feels about her job, and she simply says, "I love it."
"I like the fact that I am helping out people. It feels good," said
Mary, who joined the franchise in December 2011. "People depend on me.
I make friends. There's a trust that builds. I share secrets with them, and
they share their secrets with me.
"My clients look forward to renewing our friendship every time I walk in
the door. I would want this type of help if I were a senior. My clients and
I absolutely love each other. We have grown together. 'We want just Mary' -
I have heard that. Once you grow into a relationship with your clients, it's
hard to have someone else come in and help them."
The CAREGiver of the Month, who also serves as a family caregiver for an uncle
15 to 25 hours a week, has savored many enjoyable experiences with her clients.
Some clients will speak their minds. "For me," Mary said, "it
feels good to be trusted so much that they tell you everything. Sometimes I
think their families don't know them as well as I do.
"One client liked to travel. She used to take her old clothes on trips
and drop them off at charity places and then she would buy new clothes while
she was at her destination city. She was a teacher who never married nor had
kids and retired early."
Mary averages between 40 and 60 hours a week, depending on fill-in shifts. She
praises franchise owner Glenna Yaroch and her staff for everything from training
to CAREGiver job recognition. "The office has honored me - and other CAREGivers
- with gifts, holiday cards, birthday cards. It feels good to work hard and
be recognized for it. They try to honor CAREGivers with a birthday breakfast
or dinner," Mary pointed out.
"Training is good, and it is hands-on. They have us split up enough so
that there aren't too many or too few CAREGivers in a session. What is also
good is that they listen to the CAREGivers. The training is required and ongoing
to keep your job, which is a good idea. A lot of the training is about safety
issues in dealing with the client. It does improve the quality of caregiving."
Training is great, Mary said, but she emphasized that caregiving must come naturally.
"Being a friend also can come naturally," she said. "You have
to be open-minded about listening to people when you are their companion. All
the training in the world can't teach you to be friendly if that's not in your
nature. Caregiving is all about heart and compassion, and everything basically
leads from that."
Home Instead offers free monthly newsletters with tips and advice for caregivers of elderly loved ones.
Each Home Instead Senior Care franchise is independently owned and operated.