CAREGiver of the Month - Christine

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Christine Models Perseverance, Selflessness in Face of Adversity

Award-winning CAREGiver Christine Garner always has put her clients first, even where her health is concerned. 

“When Christine is having health struggles, you’d never know it,” said Destiny Wesley, staff coordinator for the Home Instead Senior Care® franchise that serves Houston, Bellaire, Missouri City and Sugar Land. “I have had to work with her on backing off work sometimes since her issues came up because she is more worried about her seniors than herself.”

Christine, a CAREGiver of the Month who has worked for Home Instead Senior Care for six years, was diagnosed with breast cancer 2½ years ago and continued to work while she was undergoing both radiation and chemotherapy because she did not want to leave her clients. “She insisted on working two or three weeks up to the time she had breast cancer surgery,” Destiny said. 

“She amazes us all. Christine is very timely and compassionate about caring for people. She is the kind of person you hear about on television, someone who has so much going on in her own personal life and meets her own challenges so quietly that you would never know it because she doesn’t speak of it much. Christine just aims to please her clients and to ensure that their needs are being met. I can’t put everything in words that I would like to say about her. Anyone who knows her will tell you that she’s very inspiring.” 

If battling and beating breast cancer wasn’t enough, Christine was diagnosed with Huntington’s disease after she returned from treatments and surgery. “The most current malady that has come up,” Destiny explained, “is a brain tumor. She is scheduled to undergo an operation to remove it on Sept. 9. Christine is just not going to say anything about it – and few people know. 

“In her way of thinking, her clients come before her own problems. I know one thing she has done is encourage clients who have health challenges or are on the upside of the recovery process. She is a remarkable person who tells them, ‘If I can do it, you can, too. Hang in there!’ We think so much of her that it is hard to put into words,” Destiny added. 

“Christine is one of the strongest CAREGivers we have on staff, and one of strongest people I know. She pushes beyond her limits even when she should not. She is a sweet person.” 

With a giggle, Destiny also offered: “Christine is one of the few on staff who is excellent with directions.”

While Destiny and many others at Home Instead Senior Care have witnessed Christine’s “awesomeness,” she prefers to talk about her seniors: “All of my clients are special.” Christine salutes one client in particular because many others have, too. 

“All my respect goes out to this client because she served in the Air Force and traveled around the world to defend our nation,” Christine said. “We all should do more to recognize veterans and try to help them if we can. This client is in her 70s and has many challenges after having suffered a stroke, and it is truly an honor to serve her. 

“I enjoy being with her because she is a very joyful person who doesn’t let anything get her down or hold her back. She wants to get out as much as possible, and she likes to go out to eat and go shopping when she can. Her stories about the military make me feel good and proud of her and our service people.”

Christine has assisted the client for quite a while, picking up the hours when Christine’s sister left her job as a Home Instead CAREGiver. “She still asks about my sister all the time and asks me to say ‘hi’ to her,” Christine said. “You can tell there was a bond.”

Christine’s sister, CAREGiver of the Quarter Michella Garner, introduced Christine to Home Instead Senior Care in September 2009. “My sister spoke highly of Home Instead,” Christine said. “Before Home Instead, I had been a family caregiver and also worked for another agency. I really enjoy what I am doing or I would have not stayed this long. I like to be there for people who need the help. It’s a job where you get to meet a lot of different kinds of people and personalities, and learn from them while you hear all of their stories. I’d say it is quite an experience.”

Christine laughs when she talks about one of those experiences with an 82-year-old client who owned a green parrot named “Baby” for more than 35 years before it died recently. “Baby was a real character that carried on human-like tendencies and characteristics, and was quite a good companion for my client,” Christine said. 

“Baby was very friendly, would fly or walk around, land on your shoulder and whistle at you. Baby would go to its cage to be fed and then take a nap. I did not have any trouble keeping everything clean with the bird – it was no problem at all. It was so sad – the client had a little funeral for Baby. I miss Baby just as much as the client misses the bird. She’s not sure if she wants another one because she’s sad right now.”

Christine pointed out how important animals are to seniors. “I’ve been in homes with dogs, cats and a bird, and the pets are just like kids to the seniors,” she said. “Other CAREGivers and I were actually at ease with the client being alone in the evenings because she had Baby as a source of companionship.” 

When the word “companionship” comes up, Christine is quick to point out the importance of compassionate companionship for seniors and how it is a big key in keeping seniors in their homes, just as much as light housekeeping, meal preparation, medication reminders and errands and transportation. 

“In fact, I’ve gone into facilities with the clients to help them transition to assisted living or nursing care from their homes because it is a big step,” Christine said. “It’s a tough deal to have to move out of your home for whatever the reason. Try as they might, the facilities are usually very busy or swamped with trying to take care of everyone that having a CAREGiver is a big help to the client.”
Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of companionship services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call 713-774-2215 or email Recruitment and Retention Coordinator Stacy McClennon at Home Instead also accepts online applications to become an in-home caregiver. For further information about the company, visit Home Instead Senior Care, or to learn more about the company's senior home care services​, view our digital brochure.​​ ​


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