Ana Gonzalez's client already had a future assignment in mind for her award-winning CAREGiver at the Home Instead Senior Care® franchise that serves Houston, Bellaire, Missouri City and Sugar Land.
A bird is the word.
"She wants to go to the pet store near the mall," Ana explained, "to find another bird. I will take her, and she hopes to find one to replace the one that died. She had a parrot as a longtime companion, and she kept its cage door open. It would come and go as it pleased and fly around the room. The bird was quite a character. It'll be a big decision to find another to take its place."
Helping a senior find another pet is important, and perhaps even a trust issue. There may be no better person than Ana to accompany the client because she has been a trusted CAREGiver for eight years. "Ana is the type of CAREGiver who is highly requested and one who I can send to just about any client. Ana is such a joy to have around, and she is an excellent CAREGiver," Staff Coordinator Destiny Wesley said.
Several years ago, another pet seemingly tipped off a senior that Ana was a trusted soul. The dog, usually penned in its indoor kennel, would bark incessantly when a newcomer would enter the home. On the day when Ana went to assist a senior, the dog was out of its kennel and roaming. The dog surprisingly accepted Ana immediately and refused to bark. "That's when the client said she knew I was OK. I was someone to be trusted," Ana said.
Trusted so much, Ana said, that she was able to initiate an impromptu dance with the same client as Ana was getting her prepared for bed. "She had told me about how much she and her late husband loved to dance to big-band music and all kinds of other music when we would be driving to appointments," Ana said. "One night when she raised her arms as I helped with her nightgown, I pretended to dance with her. She smiled sweetly and became very joyful because she loved it. She knew I had remembered what she talked about.
"I assisted her for four weeks over the Christmas holiday while she was visiting her family in Houston. When the holidays ended, they took her back to Austin. Our time together seemed too short. I love my experiences with my clients because all of them have been sweet."
Ana's outlook, Destiny pointed out, is to please her clients, while at the same time following the company's rules, guidelines and procedures. "Ana is a team player who takes pride in her work. It has been a pleasure working with her because she is a true sweetheart and a very dedicated employee. Ana is a very humble person, and that is why recognizing her as the CAREGiver of the Month is so fitting," Destiny said.
Ana prefers to deflect praise and was even surprised when she was told of her CAREGiver of the Month honor. "The award is nothing I set out to win," she said. "I want everyone to clearly know that caregiving is not about me and I am not seeking the spotlight. It is about your client, and if you don't feel that way, caregiving is not for you."
Ana said her goal and caregiving philosophy are simple. "None of the seniors wants to live in a facility," she said. "They do best at home. With the clients, I like to say we work together for a common cause and we always want to enjoy each other. I never say, 'Can I help you?' because the word 'help' might imply they can't do something. I always ask, 'Can I be of assistance?'
"So I say that I love to assist people – if I can do something for someone else, it makes me happy. Since I like people and want the best for them, what better opportunity than to work with someone who is unable to remain at home without assistance. Working with clients brings joy to my life, and a simple smile from them makes it all worth the effort."
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