Esther Sloan was determined not to place her gravely ill husband in a nursing home more than 10 years ago despite the fact she was working full time as a Certified Nursing Assistant at a Houston-area hospital.
"It was rough to keep him here – but, no, I would not take him out of our home," Esther choosing her words carefully while speaking in a defiant tone that indicated the issue was never in question. "In fact, my husband died at home, and that is where he deserved to be. He was a good man. Most people want to remain in their homes, and could you blame them?"
It is no surprise that when Esther retired from her hospital job after a 15-year career, she did not lose her desire to take care of others. On March 22, 2012, Esther joined the Home Instead Senior Care® franchise that serves Houston, Bellaire, Missouri City and Sugar Land. "I cared for a lot of the elderly at the hospital, and I also worked in several skilled nursing homes before I went to work at the hospital. I've always had a heart for seniors," said Esther, who was honored twice in 2015 by owner Greg Gomez-Mira's franchise.
"Esther Sloan is a gem!" Staff Coordinator Destiny Wesley said when the franchise selected Esther as December CAREGiver of the Month and also as the CAREGiver of the Quarter.
Destiny added: "She is one of our more 'mature' CAREGivers, but she is one of our spiciest, and on top of that she can run circles around some of the younger ones. Clients just love her and have only great things to say about her. I was told recently by a client that Esther is one of our best. Her work ethic cannot be questioned."
Ask Esther about the origin of her desire to share her compassion with others, and she'll take you back to her childhood days growing up in Nigeria. "When I was 11 years old," Esther recalled, "I was living with my grandfather, my mother's father. A woman in her 90s came to live in our compound, and I took care of her until she passed away. I would clean her wounds and give her a bath, pretty much taking over her personal care needs. It felt good to help."
Explaining her compassion, Esther said: "I care about seniors because they were once just like us. It is not their fault they grew older and perhaps infirm. They just have had the misfortune that most of us have not yet experienced. I love them, and they deserve all the help they can get."
One of Esther's clients, an 89-year-old Sugar Land resident, frequently tells Esther he wants her to come every day. Esther provides the client's 79-year-old wife with the opportunity to shop and run errands. "She is on the go," Esther said, "and I do not need to help her. I am an available help for her if she needs me.
"When my client talks about wanting to schedule me every day, I remind him that I am retired and I like having a day or two off once in a while," Esther said with her trademark laugh.
Another of Esther's clients is the wife of a doctor. The client's family, including her son, wants Esther as their CAREGiver. So far, she has assisted with weekend overnight shifts.
One of the reasons Esther is still working, she said, is her bosses. "Greg is a great, great man," she said, "and he is just the best – very, very nice. You want to work for him and Miss Destiny, a great lady as well. This is a company that serves a good purpose because people want to remain at home and not go to a facility. I can tell you that my clients would have broken down in a facility and it just would not be right for them. I worked at senior facilities and know how busy the workers are there. There are too many people to watch, and workers get worn out.
"Senior care is best one-on-one. You have to care and respect seniors. When you come to their houses, you smile, talk to them and give them a hug. It is all for them. Of course, there are problems sometimes, and dementia can cause problems. There has been rough talk from some clients, but they cannot help their behavior, and I do not take it personally. I've seen adult children get mad at their parents for the way they addressed me, but I tell them it's OK, that it is not how they would act if they did not have dementia. I still love them, and I still do my job."
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.