CAREGiver of the Month Jennifer

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Jennifer Accommodates Client Who Stays on the Go

The 94-year-old woman suffered a stroke that left her permanently disabled on her left side, but she is still sharp as a tack, is social and has a good energy level. Believing a nursing home would provide the best care, the woman’s family found one for her. 

But she and her family decided it did not. In a short time, she returned home.

Enter the Home Instead Senior Care® franchise that serves Houston, Bellaire, Missouri City and Sugar Land, and award-winning CAREGiver Jennifer Martin. “The family found the nursing home was such a busy place, they figured they were going to have to hire someone to come in and spend time with their mother,” Jennifer explained. “They came to the conclusion that home was the best place for her, and we are happy to be the solution for home care.”

Jennifer is part of a CAREGiver team that covers many of the hours for the client, who is thriving with their care. Jennifer knew it would be the best outcome for her client because the CAREGiver of the Month had worked for five years in a nursing home during a health-care career that has spanned 36 years. Jennifer will celebrate her fourth anniversary with Home Instead Senior Care in May. 

“At the nursing home where I worked,” Jennifer recalled, “I would be responsible for as many as 28 patients. There wasn’t much time to sit with them. If you tried, you might be in danger of falling behind with routine care. But there were always at least two or three patients who didn’t have any visitors, and I tried to spend more time with them to provide companionship.”

But Jennifer’s penchant for compassion met with resistance from bosses who could sympathize with Jennifer’s intentions but emphasized a different approach. One supervisor advised Jennifer not to get too attached to the patients. It is easy to see that Jennifer’s Home Instead Senior Care client and her family didn’t want that kind of care. 

Jennifer, who works five overnight shifts with her client, originally met her more than three years ago when Jennifer was filling in for another CAREGiver. The client and her daughter liked Jennifer so much they requested her as a regular, but Jennifer already had another regular client. As fate would have it, Jennifer became available when her regular client passed away.  

 “We get along really well. She looks forward to seeing me each day. I also fill in with her during some of my normal days off when other CAREGivers can’t make it,” Jennifer said. One of those days fell on a Sunday when Jennifer, usually a regular greeter at her Church of Christ, was honored to take her client to Mass at her Catholic church. On Monday nights, Jennifer helps her client host a 10- to 12-person Bible study that lasts up to two hours.   

“I want to help her remain as active for as long as she can. She has a lot of energy and wants me to get her up and going in the mornings,” Jennifer said. “She likes to go shopping, on outings, to church and outside if just to take a stroll in her wheelchair to get some Vitamin A. Her daughter says I am perfect for her mom.”

Jennifer and her two sisters all work in some form of health care or home care. “Each of us is in the business of taking care of someone or some people,” Jennifer said. She remembers when her dad, who continued to work for three days a week even after retirement, refused their help during his later stages of cancer and instead went into hospice before passing away four years ago at age 74. “He didn’t want us to give up what we were doing to help him,” Jennifer said. 

Jennifer also experienced the heart break of losing her husband of 30 years seven years ago after his battle with a chronic disease. “I miss him, but he’s in a better place. I believe he is my angel and watches over me all the time,” Jennifer said. “For a while after his passing, I sat around the house. But I decided the Lord didn’t leave me here to mope around. I grew up in the church, and drawing on that strength helped a lot – going to church makes my days better.”

Jennifer also serves as a family caregiver – her daughter and three grandchildren live with her. Jennifer can’t seem to turn down anyone – man or beast – who needs help. For the past four months, a friend’s German shepherd, “Blackie,” has been staying in Jennifer’s yard because he needs a temporary home. “I try to pitch in whenever I can,” Jennifer said with a laugh. “I keep Blackie and my Pomeranian apart – Blackie stays outside, and my Pomeranian is an indoor dog.”

“I am always happy, never sad,” Jennifer said.  “Life is simple for me, but it is good, because I go to work, to church and help my daughter and her daughters. I am a homebody if I am not helping someone. You have to have the heart and understanding of others to do what I do because sometimes the elderly are so sad. I feel I’ve got to make them happy.”

And Jennifer does that, Staff Coordinator Destiny Wesley said. “Jennifer is an excellent CAREGiver. She is truly a team player and will push through her own comfort level to help a client as long as it is within our scope of business,” Destiny said. “Jennifer is very humble and doesn’t look for recognition for the great job she does. She is very prompt and has great communication skills, and she is a joy to have on our team.”

Jennifer’s client and her daughter couldn’t agree more. “Jennifer,” the client told her, “you are not going anywhere. You are going to stay right here with me.” There are few other places Jennifer would rather be. “My client gets sad when I leave, so I give her a hug before I go. It makes her feel good – and it makes me feel good, too,” Jennifer said.

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical 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. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


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