In some ways, it felt as if the walls were crumbling around Tomecca Patterson. As a CNA, she had worked in a hospital setting for 11 years. After she left her job because of burnout two years ago, she was positioned to take care of her dying father, but he would not allow it. In January 2018, Tomecca experienced a rejuvenation and joined Home Instead Senior Care® of Iredell and Alexander Counties in Statesville.
"I believe nursing was my calling, but I had run away from it because of exhaustion that was as much emotional as it was physical. Two years later, my calling came back and found me, and one-on-one senior care was the answer. I love working for Home Instead Senior Care," said Tomecca, who was honored as CAREGiver of the Month in November 2018.
Outlining her career, Tomecca explained: "When I was 22 or 23, I wanted to be a nurse, and nursing is in my family. I gained a lot of knowledge in the nursing field and pushed ahead at full speed, really committed. But after a while, I found that with hospital care, there's no time for patients. The nurse-to-patient rate has become overwhelming, and I left in 2016."
After leaving her job, Tomecca desperately wanted to be a family caregiver but was turned back. "I tried to take care of my dad. I told him, 'I am certified to do this. Let me be that person who takes care of you.' He wouldn't let me do it because he had too much pride. I was out of work and willing to do what a CAREGiver would have done, but he was proud and stubborn. It was hard, and Dad died at home in 2017. When I got over the grief of losing him, I went back to my calling and joined Home Instead. I care about seniors."
Tomecca knew about Home Instead Senior Care but did not know a CAREGiver until a church friend told her she'd been a CAREGiver for five years. Tomecca said: "I had just started going to church again, so maybe it was meant to be. It has been a significant time in my life and I feel it has gone well, but I want to emphasize I don't do things for recognition. I don't feel worthy of being called a CAREGiver of the Month. It's not something for which I should be recognized."
Lead CAREGiver Julie Higgie said: "Tomecca is known as a very reliable employee who has a good nature, and is very upbeat and positive." It isn't hard to see how Tomecca lives the Home Instead Senior Care® principles of "Build Trust, Take the Lead and Share Your Heart."
Describing the attributes of a CAREGiver, Tomecca said: "Being a CAREGiver must be in your heart. You must have a passion for it. I made a wonderful change when I joined Home Instead because I moved to one-on-one care. That is why this is more than a job. These are human beings who need help. I need them as much as they need me."
Tomecca added: "I like the continuity a CAREGiver has with a senior, and consistency matters. They want someone with whom they are familiar. They have gone from having independence to having to depend on someone. It's tough to have a stranger in your home. Then it is awful to lose someone with whom you've become familiar and comfortable. Home Instead tries to keep the same CAREGivers with the same clients to hold that continuity."
Tomecca has had the same two clients since she started. Both are in their 80s, and they like Tomecca because they are confident and comfortable with her. In senior care, trust is everything.
One client needs more care, and because he is bed-bound. "We have a good bond. His wife still works, and I try to take the pressure off her. They are good people. I read the newspaper to him, and we watch 'Good Morning America.' He comments on the news and tries to remain current in the world," Tomecca said.
She chuckles when she talks about her other client's influence on her. "I gave up soap operas when I was a teenager. But the client and I watch 'The Young and Restless.' I capture episodes on my DVR that I miss. I also do the play by play of the 'Young and Restless' for her. She is sweet. She wants to teach me how to crochet when she is feeling better. I lost the draw string in my nurse's pants, and she crocheted a belt to carry me through the shift. There is a trust factor with me. If I have to miss a shift, she tries to be on her own," Tomecca said.
Tomecca described a poignant time with her client: "I take her to the cemetery where her parents are buried. She honors their memory with flowers and trusts me to pick out the flowers. It is a special and sacred time when we visit their graves. We're out there about once a month, on holidays, birthdays and their anniversary. I feel like part of the family, like a daughter."
After having been a CNA for 13 years, Tomecca is pursuing a nursing degree as she works full time for Home Instead Senior Care. "I am applying for an RN program in January that will start in the fall of 2019. I am working on pre-requisites with classes this semester in microbiology and critical thinking," she said. Tomecca has another goal: "I am devising a program for family and professional caregivers to improve self-care and avoid burnout as we assist seniors in the best way possible and yet keep a positive balance in our own lives. Boosting other caregivers' morale is personally important to me."
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 .
Home Instead offers free monthly newsletters with tips and advice for caregivers of elderly loved ones.