CAREGiver of the Month - Joan

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CAREGiver of the Month Joan S. recalls when she not only won over a client but also her service dog, a huge, protective black Labrador named Pepper.

“Pepper had some quirks, wasn’t very trusting of others and could be assertive. Some people who had assisted the client couldn’t handle the dog,” Joan recalled, “but I am an animal person, and Pepper loved me. The client loved going out with Pepper and doing such things as grocery shopping or taking in a movie. When my client asked Pepper to retrieve an item on a grocery shelf, she sometimes pointed to the wrong thing and then told him ‘no.’ Pepper would get frustrated just as a human would. Occasionally, he would take his nose, swing it forcefully and clear off the whole shelf. Then I would have a cleanup on my hands.”

But Joan, who joined Home Instead Senior Care® of Lancaster in April 2009, laughed. She’s experienced the whole gamut of emotions during her second career. “Fulfilling” is a word she uses often. Seven or eight months after Joan retired following a 38-year career in the finance department with Armstrong World Industries, she became bored and searched for a part-time job on the internet.

“A relative said I should instead seek a part-time financial job, but I was finished with financial work,” Joan said. “I had taken care of Mom for a couple of years before she went to a skilled care facility and then passed away in 2005. I wanted to help people. With my clients, I give 100 percent and am totally into them.”

That much was evident during Joan’s second year with Home Instead Senior Care. The Lancaster County Office of Aging honored Joan for going above and beyond the call of duty when she remained with a client until the client received medical attention when it wasn’t obviously apparent she needed help. The situation was evidence of how thoroughly Joan gets to know her clients and bonds with them.

In another instance, Joan was the first to know when a client’s longtime pet, a cat named Baby Boy, died. “It was sad. ‘Tell me everything,’ I said. And she did. It was a time for her to unpack her emotions because she hadn’t done it with anyone else,” Joan explained.

Dementia clients might not know your name, Joan pointed out, but they usually recognize your face. “A client’s wife said her husband didn’t want anyone to help him on one particular day. Mentioning my name didn’t change his attitude. But when I came through the door, his face lit up and his entire outlook changed. That made the three of us feel good. Sometimes it can take a couple of months to truly connect with a dementia client.”

CAREGiver Recruitment and Engagement Specialist Susan Shiner praised Joan, saying: “Joan has served on our franchise’s Safety Committee and has completed advanced training in Hospice and Palliative Care, but mostly she is known for how she serves her clients. Joan is always looking out for them and making them priority No. 1!”

With a laugh, Joan said: “When I looked at the list of continuing education training courses the franchise will be offering this fall, I think I already had been through all but one. I guess that just shows how long I’ve been with Home Instead. I am working 20-hour weeks, which are just right. I want to stay with them for as long as my health holds up.”​


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