CAREGiver of the Month Diana Ballard's strong faith shines with her clients as she carries out the Home Instead Senior Care® principles of "Build Trust, Take the Lead and Share Your Heart." Diana said: "I love my job, which doesn't feel like a job to me. It is more like a ministry."
In different ways, clients have shared their beliefs with Diana, who in turn has helped them practice their faith if they want her to do so. A client with late-stage dementia was watching "The Waltons" on television with Diana when he suddenly put his head down and started praying aloud.
"We were watching a scene where the Walton family was bowing their heads to pray before their meal. Despite his dementia, the client understood what the Waltons were doing. Since he knew the Lord, he bowed his head to pray. He'd been a client for four or five months, and it was the first time I saw it. I feel blessed when something like that happens," Diana said.
"He had good days and bad days. His family took very good care of him, and I was there to provide respite care. Eventually, he went to a hospice center, where I went to see him once. I wanted to cry – I had missed him."
Diana participates in Bible devotions with a client. "I learned she is full of a marvelous faith – you could see it quickly. The client reads her devotions to me. Her Bibles are all marked with notes she has taken," Diana said. One of her clients likes to watch the television ministries of Jimmy Swaggart and Charles Stanley because he is unable to get out. "I've been matched with a lot of Christian clients. Shared interests and passions are important for client-CAREGiver arrangements."
Compassion and caregiving have been in Diana's blood forever, including the time when she responded to an urgent need for family caregiving when she was 21 years old.
"That's when our parents died. My brother was 6, so I took care of him. I'd been married for less than two years when he came to live with us. He's 53 now. He called me his 'sister-mom' back then. Mom did the hard part, raising him from a baby," Diana said. "In another instance, my father-in-law had Alzheimer's, and I went to my in-laws' house and stayed with him while my mother-in-law ran errands or went to the hair salon. He also came to our house for care. As a volunteer, I sat with a fellow church member who had bladder cancer and needed the help."
Diana joined Home Instead Senior Care of Iredell and Alexander Counties in Statesville on Dec. 7, 2018. "I had retired from a job at Unifour Pediatrics in Hickory, where I had worked for six years. My plan was to stay home for a few months and then go back to work part time," Diana said.
"I found Home Instead when I went to a vocational rehabilitation center, where I'd previously been a client. That's where I received a list of health-care places from a counselor. One was Home Instead. I called a CNA friend and asked her about Home Instead. She is not with Home Instead, but she spoke very highly of them. It is a Christian company, which I liked."
Diana's 71-year-old husband, a retired truck driver, has helped. "My husband is great whenever I get a new client. We go driving to find the client's home before I go for a shift. I have no sense of direction, and he's a big help. He also drove me to the clients' homes when the roads were snowy," Diana said.
"Our franchise owners, Tracey and Creighton Gibson, have taken CAREGivers to clients during wintry weather. Lots of clients have told me, 'If it's bad weather and you can't come, don't worry.' They are as concerned about me as I am about them, but I never want to let them down."
Diana has been assisting four clients and meets many different needs. "I cook for them, and provide light housekeeping, sponge baths and showers," she explained. "A client gets Meals on Wheels. I set it up for the client, including silverware and a napkin. I also provide a 'garment protector.' The client laughs and calls it a bib."
A husband of a client tells Diana when she leaves for the day: "Diana, I appreciate you taking care of my wife, always." Whenever Diana prepares a meal for them, the husband prays before they eat and finishes with, "and blessings for those who take care of us." Small things can mean the most to a client, and the husband and his wife are happy whenever Diana cleans their glasses.
Diana likes her job. "The flexibility is good. If you need time off and give ample notice, it is fine. I've taken as many ongoing training classes as I can. Although my husband is fine, I know the training also will be helpful if he or my brother ever needs the care," she said.
She added: "Losing a client is never easy. I go right back to work after the death of a client. I am comforted by the fact I did everything for him or her that I knew to do. I want to keep going – as long as I am able, I want to be working with seniors."
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.