As the clock was ticking past 5 p.m. on a cool December day last year, CAREGiver of the Month Gloria Barrera and her client scurried among the crowds at the South Plains Mall during a Christmas shopping trip that had started at 11 a.m. The 93-year-old client was still going strong, but she was worried about her CAREGiver. “Gloria,” the client said, “you will be sore tomorrow.” Of course, Gloria was game for whatever the client requested, but she later admitted, “I was tired when the shift ended.”The client wanted to stay on the move. The shift was supposed to end at 4 p.m., so Gloria called the office and received permission to continue. “We stayed out until she was finished. At one point, I thought it was the end of our day, but she told me, ‘There is just one more stop, if you can,’ ” Gloria said with a laugh.The South Plains Mall – consisting of 1.1 million square feet and 162 stores and shops – didn’t have everything for the client, so Gloria drove her to several other places. “At one point, we even stopped at the Home Instead Senior Care® office because Santa Claus was making an appearance there,” Gloria said.The client calls Home Instead Senior Care of Lubbock only for special occasions, but Gloria knew her because the CAREGiver previously had taken the client to her hair dresser. “She has a walker, but she gets around well,” Gloria said. Recruitment and Engagement Coordinator Juanita Camacho wasn’t surprised that Gloria was so accommodating. “Gloria has a positive attitude and has been a very committed CAREGiver for our company and our clients since she started in 2007. She always has a smile and a kind word to share with others, whether it be a client, the client’s family, a medical professional, another CAREGiver or a staff member,” Juanita said. Gloria has an unusual niche with the franchise – she takes the shortest of shifts and has made a science out of squeezing work and compassion into every minute.“Gloria is a very valuable CAREGiver,” Juanita said. “She likes the two-hour shifts that are sometimes challenging for service coordinators to fill. As a proactive and organized CAREGiver, Gloria’s skills allow her to complete a series of required tasks in a limited time, which is no small accomplishment.”Juanita added, “She goes into our clients’ homes, quickly assesses the situation and prioritizes the tasks. Gloria figures out what needs to be done immediately, what can be done the next time and works with other CAREGivers to economize their time with the clients. On top of all of this, Gloria is trustworthy, dependable, kind, compassionate and understanding – everything you’d want in a CAREGiver.”Gloria got her first taste of senior care as a teenager in Crosbyton, a town of 1,800 located 38 miles east of Lubbock, when she helped care for her grandfather. “I lived two houses from Grandpa when I was in junior high school,” Gloria recalled, “and I was doing his laundry and cleaning his house. Later, he moved in with one of my aunts, and I’d run errands for him. I enjoyed taking care of Grandpa because he was a lot of fun. He taught me how to make tortillas. We were close – sometimes he would wait outside my apartment when I was older just so we could visit. After he died at age 93, I moved to Lubbock.”When she landed in Lubbock, Gloria admitted, she had no clue about a job. She saw a Home Instead Senior Care advertisement and interviewed, telling the staff she had no professional senior care experience but had taken care of her grandfather for a long time. After Gloria started, she told herself, “I can do this because it’s like family. It is not hard to be nice to someone.” After three years, Gloria had to quit for a year to return to family caregiving, this time with her best friend – her mother. “Mom had back surgery and really needed the help. She is doing fine and is living on her own again, but I am with her often and go with her to the doctor,” Gloria said. “I went back to Home Instead Senior Care in January 2011, when everything was OK with Mom.”Gloria has four regular clients, including a client who has Parkinson’s disease and is confined to a wheelchair. “I’ve been with her and her nice husband for two years. She is inspirational because she has good, high spirits. She does not complain or say, ‘Why me?’ Her husband does a good job taking care of her when we’re not there,” Gloria said. Coupled with a strong office staff and clients who feel like family, Gloria said she feels blessed. “I have good clients, all of them. They always say thank you, and I am glad they appreciate me.”
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