It was New Year's Eve, and CAREGiver of the Month LaSandra LaVergne was working her usual night shift with a 90-year-old client, who sometimes stays awake until LaSandra arrives so the two can chat before bedtime.
"I asked if she wanted to stay up long enough to see the ball drop in Times Square on TV," LaSandra recalled. "She could not remember ever doing that, so she was excited. She clapped when it happened and had so much fun, because she said it was a new experience." With a giggle, LaSandra said, "We made a quicker night of it than most other Texans did, because the ball dropped at 11 p.m. Central time on TV, when it was midnight in New York City."
For LaSandra, her job is always "relationship before task," just as it is for other CAREGivers at the award-winning Home Instead Senior Care® franchise owned by Tracy and Terry Baugh. "It's not about me, it's about the client. She enjoyed it, and that's what mattered. There was no need to try to hurry her off to bed if she wanted to watch something that was significant to her," said LaSandra, who joined the franchise in October 2015.
Recruitment and Engagement Coordinator Juanita Camacho said: "LaSandra does put our clients first. She is an amazing CAREGiver who has a positive outlook on life and sees the good in all situations. LaSandra has a smile that lights up the room."
Noting that LaSandra has requested night shifts for family considerations, Juanita added: "As LaSandra works the night shifts, she is extremely attentive to our clients. She is always kind and caring. LaSandra makes sure our client feels safe and secure in knowing she is there for the client if she needs anything. Moreover, LaSandra will stop what she is doing and take on a short-notice assignment when a client needs help. LaSandra communicates well with our clients, the clients' families, her co-workers and our office."
Because of the client's anxiety and occasional times of confusion, LaSandra is always on her toes and knows what to say and do. "The client can go to bed, sleep for a while and wake up confused. Sometimes, she'll get up at 1 or 2 a.m. and want to put makeup on her face. She thinks she's going out with her late husband. Most of the time, she understands her husband has been gone for about 10 years," LaSandra explained.
"Other times, she wonders if she is going to miss church and is panicked. I sit down and talk to her. I assure her she has not missed church. I tell her I'll wake her up in time to get ready for church. I calm her down, so she can go back to bed. Other times she worries about intruders coming into her home or yard. She needs reassurances that the doors are locked and that no strangers are inside or trying to get inside."
After the client's night of sleep, LaSandra loves the look on the client's face. "She is happy I am here. She has confidence in me," LaSandra said.
The client reminds LaSandra of her 85-year-old mother. "I know when and where to stand to keep the client safe without seeming to hover. I work that way because of a senior's desire for independence. She wants to do everything by herself. So, for new CAREGivers, my advice is to make sure your client is safe, but don't be overbearing or hover. The key is to have a protective attitude toward the client. I don't want them uncomfortable. It's not about me, it's about them."
LaSandra said helping her mother has made her more sensitive to seniors' needs. "Seniors appreciate the little things. My mother is doing fine, but she is not living with me anymore because she needs the 24/7 care of assisted living and the medical help that comes with it. I spend a lot of time with her during the week and her face lights up when we arrive. I want to make it clear that a person doesn't have to have an elderly person in their life to be a good senior-care professional. Home Instead has good training," LaSandra said.
LaSandra found her job in an online search. "I read about Home Instead and said to myself, 'That's what I am looking for.' I was quite sure there were plenty of others like my mother who are out there and need help," LaSandra said. "I love my job. I have a business degree, and I used to work in an office. But I wanted an enjoyable job, and I wanted to work nights."
When speculating about her future in a line of work that she enjoys, LaSandra said: "It is so crazy. I was talking about it with my daughter who just graduated. I was thinking about more schooling and potentially earning a CNA or CMA license, maybe starting in the summer. I am still contemplating. But I always want to work with Home Instead Senior Care."
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.
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