Can a CAREGiver win a client’s trust by simply sharing his love for a National Football League team? In Robbie Huntley’s case, the answer was a resounding yes. “From Day 1 in September 2015, the client and I clicked,” said Robbie, CAREGiver of the Month for the award-winning Home Instead Senior Care® franchise of Iredell and Alexander Counties that is owned by Tracey and Creighton Gibson.“The client saw my burgundy and gold Washington Redskins keychain, and he said, ‘I like you right away because I am a Redskins fan, too,’ ” Robbie recalled. “I was with him sometimes on Sundays and would watch the Redskins game with him. If I wasn’t there on a Sunday, we would rehash the game Monday and talk about what went wrong for the Redskins.”Their shared interests weren’t centered totally on the Xs and Os of America’s most popular sport. “From football to politics, we talked about it all. It was not like going to work. It was like visiting a friend,” Robbie said. “I cherished the moment we clicked. Usually it takes a little while for a CAREGiver-client relationship to warm up and develop, but not with this client.”The client, in his 60s and living with his wife, needed help because he had an affliction that caused muscle deterioration and confined him to his bed. A hospice client, Robbie assisted him on weekdays for three or four hours at a time. He died in March 2016. “When he passed away, part of my heart died, and I cried,” Robbie recalled. Robbie shares her heart not only with the clients, but their families as well. “I am still friends with my late client’s wife and stay in contact with her,” Robbie said. Robbie epitomizes the Home Instead Senior Care principles of “Build Trust, Take the Lead and Share Your Heart.” When asked about the qualities of a CAREGiver, Robbie explained: “If you have compassion, empathy and good listening skills, you will have a caring heart. If the heart is not there, you are in the wrong field. My reward is the joy I bring to the clients, and the joy they bring me. I take care of them as if they were my parents. I listen because that is important to the clients. They want someone with whom to talk. I absorb a lot of information and wisdom from seniors and count it as a blessing.”Faith and family are important to Robbie, who draws on both to bolster her caregiving. “My faith is strong,” said Robbie, who is a member of the Davidson Presbyterian Church choir and has comforted clients with singing. “I could not do my job without my faith for several reasons. First, dealing with the death of clients is hard. When asked to help a client practice her faith, I have read Scripture to a client.”Robbie praises her husband Christopher as “her rock.” He has dabbed away her tears after clients have passed away: “I give props to Christopher. He has consoled me, hugged me and said it would be OK, that the client was in a better place and not suffering.” Robbie and Christopher have a 21-year-old son who is a sophomore at Western Carolina University and a 17-year-old daughter who is a senior at Mooresville High School. She plans to attend North Carolina A&T.Robbie’s mother passed away nearly two years ago, and her father retired about 2½ hours away in South Carolina, after a military career. “Dad is doing fairly well. I am the only daughter, and I have three brothers. I call him daily, and I nearly go into a panic attack when I don’t reach him. He thinks I am too worried about him, but I cannot help it,” Robbie said. Her father is proud of the fact that Robbie holds three college degrees: an associate’s in human services at Mitchell Community College, a bachelor’s in leadership at University of Charleston, West Virginia, and a master’s in strategic leadership at Charleston. But Robbie wants more. She is finishing classes and will enter clinicals that will put Robbie on course for certification as an NA1 (nurse assistant 1). Her NA1 program at Mitchell is tied in with her Home Instead Senior Care franchise. “It is a great program, I have enjoyed it and I have learned a lot. I will still have to pass the state certification test,” she said. Mitchell is where Robbie first made contact with Home Instead Senior Care. “I applied at a job fair at Mitchell. My niece had been working for Home Instead for a year when she went with me to the job fair,” said Robbie, who became a CAREGiver on Aug. 17, 2012. “Before Home Instead, I had worked three years for a company that served the developmentally disabled, but that company went out of business. At that job, I learned that I loved helping others. When I moved into senior care, I loved it, too. The only sad thing about the job is when the client passes away. If there is something I need to improve on as a CAREGiver, it would be not to take the loss so hard. But that is easier said than done.”
All Home Instead Senior Care CAREGivers are screened, trained, bonded and insured. For inquiries about CAREGiver employment, please apply online call 704-924-9909. For further information visit Home Instead Senior Care.