"I am continually struck by the professionalism, high level of caring and exemplary caregivers that I have met from Home Instead. My mom couldn't live without them, and neither could I.
Stacee Frost Kleinsmith's core beliefs coincide precisely with her life's work as the franchise owner of Home Instead Senior Care® of Anchorage. Her goal of helping area seniors remain in their homes by providing skilled care, love, compassion and dignity lines up with two of her favorite Bible verses in the New Testament book of Galatians, chapter 5, verses 22 and 23. "I was raised to work hard and to strive to honor God in everything I do," said Stacee, who was born and raised in Anchorage. "If I do that, the rest will follow. My personal inspiration – like two of my favorite verses – is remembering that the fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control." Her love for seniors and deep desire to help them was on display as a family caregiver when she began taking care of her grandparents while she was attending Penn State University. Her grandfather lived for 10 years after a stroke. When her grandmother died two years after her grandfather passed away, she came home to Alaska and opened her Home Instead office. At Penn State, she earned a bachelor's degree in horticulture and a master's degree in business administration. Her horticulture degree, Stacee says, feeds her soul when she's gardening or hiking in the woods; the master's degree has elevated her business proficiency. She also believes continuing education is important, so she maintains her Certified Senior Advisor status. Home Instead and four other agencies were the founding members of the Alaska Chapter of the Home Care Association of America. "We are collegial in the market space," Stacee points out. "There is such a need for service in the community, and each company serves a particular niche. Home Instead does not try to be all things to every family. But what we do, we do very well. We are Alaska's most trusted source for non-medical in-home care for seniors." Stacee, who is married, has three dogs, a Black Lab, a Belgian Tervuren and a Russell Terrier. An avid bow hunter, Stacee is very supportive of the Becoming an Outdoors Woman events hosted by the Alaska Department of Fish & Game.
Stacee Frost Kleinsmith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Client Care Coordinator Shala Dearing savors those special moments when a client's family member closes a consultation with a word of thanks and a hug. "At that point," Shala said, "I know that I've done my job. It's the best feeling in the world."
In addition to developing and maintaining client relationships through quality assurance visits, phone calls and special events, Shala conducts care consultations with prospective clients and their families. Shala also handles client-CAREGiver introductions. "I like to say we at Home Instead Senior Care® work around the clock for the families and clients to ensure the clients' best possible care. I truly feel that we, as a team, make every effort to go above and beyond for our clients," Shala said.
Before joining Home Instead Senior Care of Anchorage on July 13, 2015, Shala consistently set sales and performance records wherever she worked. Shala has been able to recognize underperforming situations and develop them, and has capitalized on good performance. Shala not only can "go with the flow," but knows how to "nudge the flow" to go where she thinks it should go. "I'm able to read situations and make the best of them," Shala said. "I can troubleshoot problems and come up with realistic solutions. I am a 'whole situation' problem-solver."
Shala is happily married to Chris Dearing, and they have three children – two daughters and a son – and two "furry kids," Pebbles and Gizmo (dogs). She loves to spend time at their cabin on Nancy Lake with her family. "I'm a big reader, and I love the arts. I stay active by volunteering with my son's sport, hockey. We recently were blessed with our first granddaughter," Shala said.
Shala's credo is, "Do it right the first time, but always double-check to make sure it has been done correctly." Shala's inspirations are "My 'grams' (grandmother) and my mom."
Shala Dearing can be reached at email@example.com
Q & A with Shala
Question: What are the biggest challenges facing seniors and their families today?
Shala: "For seniors, finding competent, caring, compassionate attendants who have a high degree of reliability and a passion for the job is paramount. All too often, seniors' families are long-distance caregivers who are busy raising children, holding down jobs and facing many other demands. They likely face financial challenges of having to manage two households as well as arranging to get their senior loved ones to medical appointments. For those families, finding senior-care help that has the resources to provide consistent and loving care for their senior loved ones at a reasonable cost is a challenge. Home Instead Senior Care is a great option."
Question: How did you become interested in a job in senior caregiving?
Shala: "I watched my parents deal with my grandparents as their physical conditions declined. The emotional roller coaster included tearfully watching their loss of mobility and function. The resulting workload for my parents – especially my mother – was heart-wrenching. From that personal experience, I learned about the different options for seniors who struggle to live at home by themselves. There are, of course, CAREGivers like the ones employed by Home Instead Senior Care, plus senior communities and skilled nursing facilities."
Question: Would you recommend senior care as a career?
Shala: "I think I've found a niche that fits well. My work experience had been mostly in sales, which involves personal interaction. My passion is people. My empathy fits well with this field. The job and field combine my interpersonal skills, my outgoing personality, my caring nature, my love of life – living it completely – and my appreciation for the past and future. I find reward and pleasure both in this work. As for others – I can relate to them only how the senior-care field enthuses me and makes me feel fulfilled. Some people can feel it; others cannot."
For Client Care Manager Hal Keisor, his work is a calling, not a job. "My mother and father told me long ago that I should do what I love, and love what I do. That is where I am today," said Hal, who joined Home Instead Senior Care® in June 2009 as the community service liaison and was promoted to client care manager. His inspiration is his mother, a Home Instead CAREGiverSM. His younger sister also is a CAREGiver, and those two women are partly responsible for his move to work for Home Instead Senior Care. Hal conducts care consultations with prospective clients as well as develops and maintains client relationships through quality assurance visits, phone calls and special events. In addition to making client-CAREGiver introductions, he counsels CAREGivers on effective techniques. He works tirelessly to ensure the clients' best possible care. "The care we provide is not a cookie-cutter schedule because it is customized to the clients' needs and desires," he points out. He is a volunteer for the Alaska Run for Women, which benefits breast cancer awareness and research, as well as providing competition for Alaska's female athletes. Hal has "two wonderful daughters" and three grandsons. "I love time spent with family, especially the grandkids at our cabin on Kashwitna Lake," he said. Hal Keisor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Emerald Fuimaono always takes an unselfish, team-first approach to everything she does, whether it's work or family. Sometimes, she'll tell you with her little giggle, it's out of necessity.
Family first: Emerald is a mom to eight beautiful children, two boys and six girls. Her boys are the oldest and youngest, and the girls are in the middle. She has been married for 10 years and loves spending time with her family. "With eight kids," Emerald says, "it's a party every day!"
Work: As the staff coordinator for Home Instead Senior Care® of Anchorage, Emerald coordinates and schedules CAREGivers for the clients, and her job comes with a promise. "I get to know them so they can be successful. We attempt to achieve a great CAREGiver-client fit. Of course, we have to adjust sometimes, but we're always seeking the best for clients and CAREGivers. I want our CAREGivers to know how much we care for them and that we are always here for them."
Emerald, who started with Home Instead Senior Care Oct. 8, 2014, after moving to Anchorage a month earlier, has had a great amount of experience in staffing while working with seniors for 10-plus years. "I love working with seniors," she says. "I have been a Personal Care Assistant for nine years and had spent the last two years as a community coordinator for a health care agency."
Emerald's experience with senior loved ones began at an early age. "My grandmother and grandfather took care of my brother and me while we were growing up, and they worked very hard. Grandpa was very organized, and Grandma was always cleaning and taking us to fun activities. I respect them very much. Thanks to them, I am proud of who I am and what I do with a caring heart today," she says.
Emerald and her family love spending time outdoors, fishing, camping, walking trails and having barbecues. With the move to Anchorage, Emerald is eager for a whole new set of summertime adventures. "Being an Alaska native and growing up here," she said, "I love winters and sledding with the kids. Obviously we are very family-orientated."
Emerald can be reached at email@example.com.
Nearly two decades before Training Coordinator Ana Kellerman-Douglas' grandmother died at age 104, she correctly predicted that Ana, a Costa Rican native, would end up in Alaska helping people. "There was a desire in my heart to be in Alaska," said Ana, a registered nurse, "and perhaps my grandmother felt it."
Ana noted: "I came to Alaska on June 17, 1977, and I worked in several organizations related to the medical field. During a 38-year career, I have done everything related to nursing. I have worked with migrant workers, in hospital cardiac units, and with labor and delivery units in hospitals. I ran an assisted care home for 20 years." Among other jobs, Ana worked for 15 years with the Alaska Area Indian Health Service in conjunction with Alaska Native Tribes and Tribal Organizations to help provide comprehensive health services.
Ana joined Home Instead Senior Care® of Anchorage on April 1, 2015.
"I believe knowledge is power, and I love sharing the knowledge. I have acquired so much information during a lifetime of education and work that I can empower CAREGivers with knowledge of the best methods of care. I have a passion for teaching. Through teaching CAREGivers at Home Instead Senior Care, I feel as though I am putting an exclamation mark on my career in nursing and instruction. It is the best way to end. The Lord allowed me to come here. Some people would call it 'fate,' " Ana said.
Franchise owner Stacee Frost Kleinsmith pointed out: "By hiring Ana, we were very excited about raising the bar on the resources we provide to our CAREGivers, including the expertise to which they can turn for training and client health and care questions. Having Ana as part of the team will also be a great resource for families."
On the personal side, Ana has been married to Joseph Douglas since Aug. 1, 1987, and they have three children. Ana loves to play volleyball, enjoys gardening and is always eager to take walks. She is a member of the South Anchorage Assembly of God Church. "I am fellowshipping and working a mission within their Hispanic church because Spanish is my native language. My life has been a wonderful blessing."
Ana Kellerman-Douglas can be reached at Ana.firstname.lastname@example.org
Q & A with Ana
Question: What has inspired you to work in senior care?Ana: "My grandmother lived to be 104, and she was so strong she seldom went to a doctor except for hip surgery at a Costa Rican hospital. I wasn't there at the end of her life because I was working at a Mexican orphanage in 1991 when she died. After that, I vowed to take care of every senior who came across my path. Grandma kept all her wits and had a strong will. She broke the hip at 100, and she was so determined that she walked again for four years before she passed. She weighed no more than 90 pounds. She was the classic example of someone who could be helped by Home Instead Senior Care."
Question: Tell us about working for Home Instead Senior Care.Ana: "Burnout has never been a factor and never will be. I love getting up in the mornings and coming to work, and I am thrilled to work with CAREGivers. I recommend becoming a CAREGiver to people only if they have the heart for it. It should be a calling. You have got to love senior care because seniors are very special people. I believe we employ and train the best people, and we know our CAREGivers have the compassion when they are screened and before they are hired. Training our CAREGivers to be compassionate is like preaching to the choir – they already are."
Question: What is the biggest challenge facing senior care?Ana: "Statistics tell us there is not enough room in senior facilities to accommodate everyone who wants or needs to live in a facility. We need to develop a culture where we want to make a priority of keeping seniors in their homes or with family members. As a society, we have to make it easier for this to happen. Companies like Home Instead Senior Care are instrumental in helping carry out this aim."
Gunner is the Home Instead Senior Care franchise's unofficial morale manager who makes certain every office visitor is greeted warmly, including clients and their CAREGivers. The Belgian Tervuren is 11 years old – somewhere between 65 and 72 in human years – is full of energy and is totally enjoying his second career. He comes in every day with the boss. It is no wonder Gunner loves people so much – his formal training and first career were in search-and-rescue work in Central Pennsylvania. He could match practically any bloodhound with his proficiency in tracking. Gunner could sniff the ground where somebody walked and could follow his or her tracks – even if the person had been there hours earlier and was not anywhere in sight. If a child, or an elderly person with dementia, wandered off and became lost and scared, Gunner could start at the last place that person was seen and could follow his or her scent to where they were. Since Gunner is happy, big, fluffy and warm, he could be a lifesaver for someone who is lost, scared and cold. Away from work, Gunner's housemates include a black Labrador named "KK" who does not have much energy anymore – she sleeps a lot – and a Jack Russell terrier named "Tink."
Assistant Morale Manager Fredee was recruited to Home Instead Senior Care® from his native state of Vermont, for a job placement that did not include an interview. Not that Fredee plans to use them anytime soon, but he likes to point out he has a lot of Alaska Airline miles (3,200) to his credit.
Recalling his memorable flight, Fredee said: "I'm apparently too big to fit under the seat, so I flew with the other big dogs – I felt very special to be with the big dogs and not stuck under some seat like the little dogs."
Fredee concedes that Lead Morale Manager Gunner is something pretty special. "As Gunner gets older, the Home Instead Senior Care franchise owner Stacee Frost Kleinsmith, who is also known as 'my mom,' wanted a young Belgian Tervuren to watch and learn from 'The Morale Department Expert' and all-around good dog," Fredee said.
Among his job responsibilities, Fredee lists "being happy to meet and greet people, and also read their minds and discern whether they want to play or if they just want to pet Gunner and me." Fredee notes he and Gunner are big enough that when they stand next to people, "They can just reach down to pet us." Fredee explained that their job is to make people happy all day long. "That makes a dog feel pretty darn good," Fredee said.
Everyone should know that in addition to Gunner's tutelage, Fredee will go to school. "First," Fredee explained, "there is puppy obedience. You know they say you learn everything you ever need to know in kindergarten, right?" These are the bare necessities:
Fredee added: " 'Mom' believes in higher education, but she says we will just wait and see where my interests and talents lead me – possibly to search-and-rescue work. Who knows? For now, let's just play."
Question-and-Answer With Assistant Morale Manager Fredee
Question: As a young Belgian Tervuren, how would you describe yourself?
Fredee: "They say I'm just a puppy. And it will take me a couple of years to settle into my own. At eight months old, I'm nearing my expected grown-up size. I'm pretty protective of my space, but I am learning how to love everybody. I just adore my 'mom,' and I am pretty much her shadow – wherever she and Gunner are, that is where I am, too!"
Question: What are the perks of your job as assistant morale manager at Home Instead Senior Care®?
Fredee: "Well, I get to go to work every day with my big 'brother,' Gunner, and 'Mom' – but at work everyone calls her Ms. Stacee. Anyway – I'm meeting lots of people at the office, including CAREGivers. Sometimes children stop to say hello and other times there are clients, too. Mostly I like that they all OOOH and AAAH and think I am SO 'pretty.' They always say 'pretty' – I think I would much rather be called 'handsome.' I snoop around and sniff the garbage cans, and sometimes someone forgets Gunner and I are here and they throw away something that needs to be investigated. And naps – can't forget the naps. Gunner and I have very lucky jobs because we are the only ones in the office who get to take naps regularly as a perk. So yes, I am Second-in-Command of People Greeting, Garbage Snooping, and Nap Taking – I'm learning all I need to know by job training with my Bro Gunner. Not a bad gig, eh?"
Question: What do you like to do away from the office?
Fredee: "Playing with my 'big sister' is super fun. Well, she's older than me, so she's my 'big' sister, but she is a Jack Russell terrier, so she's sort of my 'little' sister too, because she is much smaller than I am. She stays home during the day so when I get home, we play chase-all-around-the-yard – first I chase her and then she chases me and then we do it over again. We have a lot of energy, and we really like to run to get it all out. Then, at the end of the day, I like to crawl up in 'my mom's' lap and snuggle. She says I am too big, but I love being next to her all the time."
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.