CAREGiver of the Month - John


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John Worked Hard to Build Trust, Relationship


Award-winning CAREGiver John Gaughan isn’t offended when clients refuse help because they don’t think they need it. The pride factor for fiercely independent Alaskans isn’t difficult to understand. Other seniors can get confused, suspicious and perhaps angry when someone comes alongside to help, especially if dementia is a factor. John knows he just has to roll up his sleeves and get to work to earn those clients’ trust. There’s no secret formula.

“My client didn’t like me at first,” admitted John, a CAREGiver of the Month for Home Instead Senior Care® of Anchorage. “He had people coming and going all the time to help him because he lives in an assisted living community. I worked to win his trust, and the trust factor has been high since I won him over. We’ve developed a relationship, and he’s easy to get along with.”

In order for the 90-year-old former Marine officer and businessman to remain in his care community, he needs John’s help 33 hours a week, five to six hours in the morning and three hours at night, because the care community couldn’t otherwise keep him. John began helping the client just 10 days after joining Home Instead Senior Care on June 21, 2013.

“My client is quite a guy who was successful and involved in politics. He owned his own float plane and has hunting trophies from as far away as Africa,” John said. “His troop ship was just pulling away from port and headed to the South Pacific when the Japanese surrendered, so he arrived too late to fight in World War II, but he did remain in the Armed Forces for a while.

“Growing older has presented a number of challenges. His mobility isn’t good, and he works with a physical therapist five days a week. My presence has been a good thing for him because of the consistency. He knows I’m there to help, and I even call him ‘boss’ sometimes. Maybe the biggest problem with his dementia is that his dreams can seem so real to him. We talk things out, sorting through things that are not possible to have occurred but seem very real to him.”

He and his client find common ground with the videos that John brings for them to watch, such as westerns and historical documentaries. Sometimes they’ll discuss the documentaries, but often his client doesn’t say much. Sometimes one smile during the day is considered a victory.

Front Office Manager Rose Marie Holliday knows that John has worked hard for that smile, and she praised his excellent verbal communications skills.

“John has a great rapport with older adults, enjoys interacting with them and cheering them up,” Rose Marie said. “He treats everyone with dignity and respect, and has the ability to work alongside others with great ease.

“He is a dynamic individual who demonstrates great follow-through and punctuality with all appointments. He is positive, very patient, compassionate, possesses terrific common sense and people skills, and demonstrates passion and skills in helping others.”

Before joining Home Instead Senior Care, John had worked for the Food Bank in Anchorage. “Through my involvement with the Food Bank,” John said, “I worked with a lot of elderly and disabled people and enjoyed helping them.” He had never heard of Home Instead Senior Care until he found Stacee Frost Kleinsmith’s franchise during an online job search.

“Home Instead Senior Care’s training has been quite helpful,” he said. “I have had everything they have offered for training, including the Alzheimer’s Disease or Other Dementias CARE: Changing Aging Through Research and Education® Training Program.”

John, who is considering pursuing his CNA, is among the CAREGivers who go to assisted living communities and a senior cooperative to help their clients. “The folks at the assisted living community like me,” he said. “It’s a good arrangement for them, for my client and for me. We work together to provide the best care for him that we can.

“I have not yet lost a client, so I am bracing a bit for that possibility and how to react to it because you get so close to your clients. But I can say that this is a good job – it’s working out just fine. It is rewarding.”  ​

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