Caregiver of the Month Willie Ann

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Willie Ann is a ‘Jewel” Among CAREGivers

Out of anguish and sorrow came something good for Willie Ann McDougle. Twenty-eight years ago, she helped her siblings take care of their mother, who passed away in 1986 because of cancer. Now she is an award-winning CAREGiver for Home Instead Senior Care® of Lubbock.

While recalling her most difficult days as a young family caregiver, Willie said, “By helping take care of Mom, I found that I developed my nurturing spirit that has allowed me to help so many others later on. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about Mom. But God is faithful, and He heals in every situation, including a person’s heart.”

The takeaway, Willie said, is she learned that an important aspect of caregiving comes from within. “My faith is really important. It is what keeps me focused and progressing forward on challenging days,” said Willie, a CNA for 22 years who joined Home Instead Senior Care on Aug. 13, 2013.

There’s no doubt that Willie has made a big impact at Home Instead Senior Care and with her one regular client. Office Manager Juanita Camacho said: “Willie is a jewel.

“She works with some of our higher-need clients and does an amazing job. Willie comes to work with a smile on her face and leaves with a smile. She is a joy to be around.”

With Home Instead, Willie is part of a 24/7 team that cares for a 93-year-old female client who has dementia. Willie has spent morning and early afternoon hours with the client for about 10 months. “She is very energetic,” Willie said, “and there is never a dull moment with her. She is a go-getter and is always willing and ready to go.”

“Ready to go” means several things to Willie and her client. Even though the client is primarily wheelchair-bound, she gets around well and loves to leave her assisted care community every Wednesday to have her hair done. Willie takes care of that, as well as taking her client for massages. Willie’s client loves to be outside, and Willie takes her on strolls with her wheelchair. “She’ll go on trips around her building,” Willie said. “I do my best to give her my best.”

And the client likes nothing better than for Willie to fix her hair and put on her makeup every morning: “She loves to be pampered.” Willie also helps her with meals and medication reminders. “My client feels like family,” Willie said, “and I’ve grown quite attached to her.”

But with dementia, Willie noted, there can be many challenges. “Each day is different and unpredictable, and I go with the flow. I redirect and refocus. Some days she thinks I am someone else,” said Willie, pointing out that the ebb and flow of memory loss is not uncommon. “She has an activity box where she can get involved with cross-stitching and knitting to keep her hands busy.”

The veteran senior-care specialist said she has drawn a lot from the Home Instead Senior Care network’s Alzheimer’s Disease or Other Dementias CARE: Changing Aging Through Research and Education® Training Program. Willie went through the course soon after joining Home Instead Senior Care and found it helpful. Overall, she said, “The Home Instead training is good. Some of it is a repeat from what I learned as a CNA and working in this field. I don’t think you ever stop learning, and I believe Home Instead’s ongoing training is good.”

Like a growing number of workers, Willie has two jobs. She is able to take on a night job because of Home Instead’s flexibility in finding exactly the hours that fit her needs.

“Home Instead Senior Care caught my eye during an internet job search; I had never heard of the company. And I had never taken on two jobs, but I am working into a good rhythm because of Home Instead’s willingness to help me achieve it,” said Willie, who also works a night shift at an assisted living community where her routine is four days on and two days off.

How is she able to handle her situation? Fairly easily, Willie said. “I love doing this – I love working with the elderly. It is all I’ve ever done. I feel as though it is my calling. I am very happy with my Home Instead job. I really enjoy it. I look forward to coming to work every day.”


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