CAREGiver of the Month Danita Anthony's first extensive senior-care experience was a heart-rending effort. She and her sister took turns caring for their mother for more than a year and a half, including overnight shifts, before she died of ovarian cancer in 2009.
"I picked up a lot of experience and know-how while helping my mother. A lot of things about senior care are self-explanatory because you draw from your wisdom and common sense. You definitely need to know certain things, procedure and protocol, but it is not rocket science. However, it is essential that you have a heart and compassion. Home Instead Senior Care® cannot train that – it's something you must have within you," said Danita, an honoree at the Home Instead franchise that serves Houston, Bellaire, Missouri City and Sugar Land.
Danita also pointed out that every client is different. "I adjust to every client situation. For instance, one of my gentlemen does not like to converse much. His son does chat with me, and he appreciates the talks because it informs him about his dad and uplifts him. Sometimes you are there as much for the family as you are for the client. Words of reassurance mean a lot to them."
Danita had not been involved with professional senior care before she joined owner Greg Gomez-Mira's award-winning franchise following an online search. For 23 years, Danita had served as a popular general manager at a family-friendly restaurant, known for its party rooms and play zones. "I liked the fast pace, the camaraderie with the public and the challenge of managing a young staff, but it was getting to be too much physically," Danita explained. Recalling how fulfilled she felt to help with her mother's care, Danita became a CAREGiver and was an immediate hit. For example, the son of a client talked her into continuing a 35-minute drive to take care of his father. "The distance seemed a bit much at first," Danita said, "but they made me feel really wanted, so I said yes." In general, Danita said: "I love the job. I enjoy meeting all kinds of new and different people. There are some wonderful, crazy attitudes, and I absolutely enjoy being around them and assisting them."
Danita enjoys the competitiveness of a 96-year-old client who loves to play Scrabble and gin rummy after lunch. "She is funny and sharp, and she has whipped me in gin rummy. She likes to play three games of Scrabble every time I am there, and she comes up with words I've never heard. She also loves to paint and goes to a painting class every Friday," Danita said.
"Not only have I bonded with her, but the same is true with her daughter-in-law, who is a really good person. It makes me feel good that the client doesn't want anyone but me. She is not hard to please, and she's not a tough one when it comes to helping her with personal care such as showering. She's really hanging in there well, and seems to have the genes on her side because she had a brother who lived to be 104."
Another of Danita's five clients lives in a big house with three other family members and six rescue dogs. "When I first drove up to the house, I could hear the barking and wondered what was up," said Danita, who is comfortable with dogs because she owns two Rottweilers. "I had them take the dogs outside for about an hour and a half while I did some light housekeeping so I could spread my scent around and they would pick it up and be comfortable with me. When they came back in, they sniffed me head to toe but everything was fine."
In addition to pets, Danita and the client have another commonality – sports. "He is really up on sports, and so am I. I'm a huge Houston-area fan: Astros, Rockets, Texans, Cougars. This is a good match," Danita said.
Staff Coordinator and Office Manager Destiny Wesley said, "We hit a home run when we hired Danita. She is in demand wherever we send her. It's easy to see why."
inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call
email Recruitment and Retention Coordinator Stacy McClennon at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
Home Instead offers free monthly newsletters with tips and advice for caregivers of elderly loved ones.
Each Home Instead Senior Care franchise is independently owned and operated.