CAREGiver of the Month Gail Jackson agrees: Senior care can be challenging. But Gail already had experienced a lifetime of challenges before joining Home Instead Senior Care®. Gail and her husband, Pastor Bob Jackson, served as a missionaries in the dense rain forests of the southwestern Pacific island nation of Papua New Guinea. Among many other common traits, senior-care specialists and missionaries both must have compassion and a can-do attitude.
For seven years, starting in 1985, Gail and Bob established church missions in Papua New Guinea while also raising a family. Papua New Guinea is mostly rural, and 852 known languages are spoken among its more than 8 million people in one of the world's least explored countries. "I had bouts of malaria, but we all had malaria. There was no electricity and a lot of water hauling, but it also was fulfilling," Gail said. "A lot of the church start-ups there are still going."
In 1993, the Jacksons returned to the United States, where Bob pastored at a church in Duncan, Oklahoma. From there, they moved 14 years ago to Lubbock, where Bob answered the call to lead another church – he has served in the ministry for more than 50 years with Gail always by his side. It's been that way since their Bible college days in Springfield, Missouri.
Gail found Home Instead Senior Care, an award-winning franchise owned by Tracy and Terry Baugh. During her first tenure, which lasted five years, Gail was honored once as a CAREGiver of the Month. She took a year-and-a-half break and returned to Home Instead in October 2014.
In February 2019, Gail again was selected as CAREGiver of the Month. Recruitment and Engagement Coordinator Juanita Camacho said there is no end to what Gail will do to help others. "She gives of her heart and time unconditionally. Gail is an awesome lady with a sweet demeanor who has blessed our clients, their families and our staff with wonderful caregiving skills," Juanita said.
Juanita added: "Because Gail is kind, gentle, compassionate, loving and sincere, she can turn around the most difficult situations in effortless fashion. Gail makes our franchise's clients feel safe and secure." While pointing out that Gail works three overnight shifts a week, Juanita said: "Our client's family is happy to have Gail care for their loved one. They feel a sense of peace when Gail is with their loved one on her overnight schedule."
Gail, a native of Pampa in the Texas Panhandle, was a family caregiver who helped her mother at a young age because of her mother's health issues. Gail remembers her mother saying, "I would never have made it without you." Gail helped with her youngest brother, and there were lots of other responsibilities, including cooking and housework.
"The Lord continues to bless us with my mother because she has amazingly rebounded from challenges, lives on her own and is as sharp as a tack at age 98. I tell her, 'You can't go until you are 100.' She lives 8½ hours away in Tyler, Texas, and I talk to her for an hour or more at a time and email photos to her. My sister and brother-in-law live near her. Dad died 20 years ago."
Between caregiving and volunteering, Gail leads a busy life. She lends a hand when unexpected situations come up at her husband's church. When they lived in Duncan, Gail worked with several senior couples as a private-duty caregiver. It was the perfect lead-in to her CAREGiver position later in Lubbock.
Referring to her Home Instead Senior Care job, Gail said: "I like it. It seems as if my job is getting better and better. At the franchise, we are like a team. We all work together well. If there is a problem, I can talk to office staff about it. Training was helpful when I was starting, and the ongoing training is even more helpful now. The ongoing classes are good, including ones such as dementia care, Parkinson's and arthritis."
Gail has been assisting her only current regular client, who is 86, for four years.
"She's my longest-running client. When I'm not there, she asks for me. I love her. We have a lot in common, including the fact that we have grandchildren and great-grandchildren. We are both Baptists," Gail said. "She always wants me to stay, even during hospital visits. I pray for her often, and she has prayed for me. I remember that she prayed for me when I had knee surgery months ago. Our relationship transcends what most people would say is 'normal assistance.' There is a spiritual aspect."
Juanita put a bow on her superlatives for Gail by saying, "Gail is a true representation of the heart of a CAREGiver."
All Home Instead Senior Care CAREGivers are screened, trained, bonded and insured. For inquiries about CAREGiver employment, please apply online call (806) 281-4663. For further information visit Home Instead Senior Care , or to learn more about the company's services link to a digital brochure at www.hisc510.digbro.com.