At 51, award-winning CAREGiver Joseph Brown considers himself somewhat of a throwback to a bygone era.
Sure, he’s got a cell phone and knows all about technology of the day. But he also points out that he’s still got a land line at home. He can prepare meals from scratch. And he has a typewriter – remember one of those things?
“I have experiences from a time when there were no electronics like computers, cell phones and iPads. When I converse with clients, I am able to talk about things with which my clients can relate. It is a part of companionship that gives my clients comfort. They feel good that I can relate to their past,” said Joseph, a CAREGiver of the Month for the Home Instead Senior Care® franchise that serves Houston, Bellaire, Missouri City and Sugar Land.
Besides being an honoree, Joseph is a unique employee at the franchise that’s owned by Greg Gomez-Mira and staffed by Destiny Wesley and Stacy McClennon. Joseph is the only male CAREGiver. “I joke a lot with the staff about being the only male CAREGiver. For example, they give away prizes at our CAREGiver meetings, and I never seem to win one. I always tell the staff, ‘Don’t I get a prize for being the only man on the staff?’ That gets a roar from them, and when they stop laughing, I get an emphatic ‘No!’ ” Joseph said with a laugh.
Being a guy doesn’t mean Joseph didn’t have any senior care experience when he joined Home Instead Senior Care. He earned his CNA in the early 1980s and worked in a skilled care community for five years before moving into retail and industrial jobs. But he always had had a caring touch with seniors; he helped for a time with care for his godmother, who has dementia.
“I always have had a God-given feeling for a high comfort level with seniors. I was that kid in the neighborhood who was running errands for the older folks when they needed something from the store. I am still a volunteer for my friends who are seniors and help them when it’s possible,” Joseph said. “I like to help people who can’t do things for themselves. I like the response I get. It is fulfilling. And I want them to feel they are important.”
Joseph’s aim – “to help and make people feel good” – is one that he takes to heart, said Destiny, the franchise’s staff coordinator.
“Joseph is a gem, and we love him dearly,” Destiny said. “He has worked with both male and female clients, and he is well-liked and respected by all. Joseph brings a sense of humor and laughter to his clients and to our office. It is very rare that you don’t see Joseph smiling.
“Joseph’s goal is always to help the client, even if that means to push them out of their comfort zone. He genuinely cares for the people with whom he works and treats them as if they were family. Joseph encourages his clients and helps them believe in themselves.”
“You never know what God has in store for you,” Joseph said. In June 2013, he was laid off from his job in the oil industry and went on a job search that led him to Home Instead Senior Care after some twists and turns.
“I was on my way to a health-care agency to apply for a job when two of my cousins called from Home Instead, where they were applying for jobs,” he recalled. “They told me to change my plans and come over to Home Instead because of their need for CAREGivers, so I did.”
Joseph’s job also took an unexpectedly pleasing twist when he became the CAREGiver for one of his father’s first cousins. The 83-year-old client was in the later stages of Parkinson’s disease and had just gotten out of a rehabilitation center where he was recovering from a bout with pneumonia when Joseph was called in to help four months ago. “I knew the client’s name but had never gotten to know him until now,” said Joseph, whose father died when he was 7.
Joseph has made a major impact on the client, who wasn’t talking with anyone when he came home. Sometimes he wouldn’t open his eyes. But that changed since Joseph stepped in the door. “His wife doesn’t want anybody but me helping with him,” Joseph said. “She told me, ‘He comes alive when you come in the door. I don’t know what it is that you do for him, but you really have an effect on him.’ ”
Joseph helps his client with a shower, shaves him, cuts his hair, trims his moustache and talks to him. And the CAREGiver prepares his meals.
“I used to feed him all the time and still do much of the time,” Joseph said “but now he is reaching for food like biscuits to feed himself. It is a big advance. He tells me now what he wants to eat, picking things on his plate. When I come in to see him at 9 a.m., he’s in bed but will open his eyes when I come in and will talk. He looks forward to seeing me every other day.”
It all adds up to a gratifying time with his client, and Joseph sees his job as a pay-it-forward opportunity. “One day it could be me in my clients’ shoes. I want someone who would do a good job with me, just as I really try to do with my clients.”
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.
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.