CAREGiver of the Month - Teresa


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Family Caregiving Was Testing Ground for Teresa

Difficult and sad times long ago prepared Teresa Slats for her role of award-winning CAREGiver for Home Instead Senior Care® of Anchorage.

Teresa’s first caregiving experience began in 1994 in her native western Alaska village of Chevak about 550 nautical miles west of Anchorage, where Teresa took care of her mother for two years before she died from cancer Jan. 13, 1996, at the age of 78.

“In my Eskimo culture,” said Teresa, who speaks English and Cupik fluently, “an unwritten rule is that the youngest daughter drops everything and takes care of an infirm elderly family member. That was me. But when my 92-year-old father died in July this year in Bethel, we decided his care would fall mostly to my brothers and they did a good job.”

One family caregiving experience had an outstanding outcome for Teresa, who has six brothers and two older sisters. “For a three-month summer job,” Teresa said, “I also took care of a niece who has Down syndrome. I worked with her on her ABC’s by using the hand alphabet sign language. She is now 21 and graduated from high school, and I am proud of her. She occupies a special place in my heart.”

When Home Instead Senior Care hired Teresa Oct. 26, 2013, the office staff saw so many good attributes that Front Office Manager Rose Marie Holliday said she knew they were making a great hire. “She truly has the heart of a CAREGiver. Teresa has amazing strengths that make her a wonderful CAREGiver, including her compassion and very hard work,” Rose Marie said.

“She leaves the clients’ homes looking amazingly clean with everything in its place. She delivers all the comforts to her clients with companionship as well as building a relationship while always connecting with them,” Rose Marie added.

“Teresa has demonstrated these skills everywhere she goes, and the clients and their families love having her. In addition, Teresa has the compassion to deal with the last years of a person’s life. She gives us all such a peace of mind when she is caring for any of our clients that she truly stands out. We at the Home Instead Senior Care office feel she deserves this worthy award. All I can say is, ‘Great job, Teresa!’ ”

Teresa has the training to match her compassion and family caregiving experience. She received her Personal Care Assistant credentials in 2010, finishing in the top three of her class. Among her Home Instead classes, she has completed Safe Client, Safe CAREGiver; The Aging Process; Building Relationships; Assisting a Client with Arthritis; Techniques to Manage Behaviors and Encouraging Client Engagement; To Us, It’s Personal; and the Journey Begins. And she has taken the Home Instead network’s Alzheimer’s Disease or Other Dementias CARE: Changing Aging Through Research and Education® Training Program, an eight-hour course.

She gets along with almost anyone, Teresa said, so caregiving is a good fit. The son of her 97-year-old female client has been thrilled with Teresa’s work from the moment she began helping at the start of August. He told Teresa, “I am very glad that Home Instead sent you. My mother is more alert, more talkative, more alive and more willing to exercise with her walker than she has for a long time. Your encouragement to get her moving around the house has been great.”

The compliments mean a lot to Teresa, who said: “That’s what I like most about caregiving, giving the client a feeling of contentment and providing family members with a secure feeling. She likes the fact that I bring the newspaper every morning. I read it to her and explain what is going on in the news. She also likes to hear her horoscope and has me read one of the cartoons.”

Teresa said she’s also energized every day to do her job well because of the support she receives from franchise owner Stacee Frost Kleinsmith and the staff. “I enjoy my job because of the way Home Instead treats me, and I want to do well for them,” Teresa said.

Teresa said all of the office staff members are hard workers and good people who treat her well. “Rose Marie Holliday made me feel very welcome when I first came into the office to apply,” Teresa said. “She is very helpful, very friendly and very attentive. I really appreciate her. The other staff members are nice, too, including Hal Keisor, Christa House, Nisha Thorne, Katharine Wien and Sherry Coburn. They are such a good group of people. And you can’t forget Gunner, Stacee’s Belgian Tervuren who is our ‘Morale Manager.’ ”  ​

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