SD Fuimaono's wife twisted his arm a little bit nine years ago. He's glad she did.
Emerald Fuimaono, a community coordinator for a home care agency in Ketchikan, Alaska, talked SD into being a family caregiver for her grandmother when she became ill in 2006. "It was winter, which was my off time from working for the fisheries," SD recalled. "We figured that when winter was over, we would have found a great caregiver for her. But it was so rewarding to be there for Grandma Mary. I had built a relationship with her, so I decided to become a fulltime caregiver and took on a few other clients."
Then SD and Emerald moved to Anchorage in September 2014 to be closer to medical care for their eight children, and Emerald immediately took a job as staff coordinator for Home Instead Senior Care®. Emerald raved about her job, telling SD how much she enjoyed working for franchise owner Stacee Frost Kleinsmith.
"SD and I had worked for a few different agencies over the years, but we have never felt so great about working for such an amazing company. Stacee cares about all of her staff like family," Emerald explained.
SD added: "With our big family, we decided since Emerald is the staff coordinator that being a CAREGiver would be perfect because Emerald knows our schedule and can just put me to work when it works for both of us. I work for only one client, and I carry 40 hours a week Monday through Friday, mostly in late afternoon and at night. I also fill open shifts anytime I can. I work an opposite schedule from my wife, which is another thing that I love – Home Instead Senior Care's flexibility with hours that suits our family's needs."
With a hearty laugh, SD also pointed out: "Well, my wife is the staff coordinator – which by definition makes her my boss – but this is only at work with Home Instead and not at home. Seriously, I love what I do. There are ups and downs with this job, but it's all worth it."
Emerald praised her husband for taking last-minute shifts and working a lot of overtime when the office is in a scheduling pinch. "SD does this at a moment's notice," she said before joking: "Maybe he does it just because I am his supervisor and what I say goes."
Perhaps the toughest caregiving challenge is assisting a dementia client. SD said: "I do not currently have any clients who have dementia, but I have worked with dementia clients. Not every client is the same. There are a lot of tests, but I think the most challenging is going to the home every day where you are forgotten and where you have to remind someone who you are. Your heart has to be in the right place, for sure. It's all about patience and your heart because there will be a lot of repeating things and possibly 'lashing out' because of confusion and frustration. But there is also a lot of gratefulness, compassion and love that is rewarded when you have finished a shift."
SD usually hits it off immediately with clients, but he also recalls one day when his blue-and-silver cap with the Dallas Cowboys' prominent Lone Star logo met with a cool reception.
"I went with Client Care Manager Hal Keisor to the hospital, where he introduced me to a new client who was being released," SD recalled. "When we walked in, the client – who is a doctor – was lying in bed and Hal said, "Doctor, this is SD.' I shook his hand, and the doctor stared at my hat and said, 'Are you a Dallas Cowboys fan?' I said, 'Yes,' anticipating that he might love the Cowboys. To my shock, his response – with a straight face and no laugh – was, 'I'm not.' So I turned my hat backward, and he then started making conversation not about the Cowboys."
Asked what he likes most about being a CAREGiver, SD explained: "I love the feeling of accomplishment at the end of the shift. Every client is unique. I also really like that my working hours are based on my availability so that I can still take care of my family and work. My favorite thing about Home Instead Senior Care is its motto, 'To us, it's personal.' I have not met a Home Instead employee – CAREGiver or office staff member – who does not take his or her job personally. We love what we do."
Home Instead Senior Care CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of in-home services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call 907-277-4663 or email recruiting and retention coordinator Katharine Wien at firstname.lastname@example.org. For further information about the company, visit http://www.homeinstead.com/637 or to learn more about the company's services link to a digital brochure at http://www.hisc637.digbro.com.
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.