CAREGiver Cornerstone Award recipient Lavetta Melchert's client was nearly the mirror image of her father, who had passed away less than a year earlier. Their connection was immediate, and the 79-year-old client even told Lavetta: "You're like family."
"I got really close to the client. He was a lot like my dad and roughly the same age. He was brought up the same way. I had so much respect for him," said Lavetta, whose father died Jan. 11, 2018, at age 72. "I needed that situation — having this client at the time."
Lavetta was assigned to the client not long after she joined Home Instead Senior Care® of Jackson on Aug. 23, 2018. She had never previously worked in professional senior care, but Lavetta had built a long, successful career in North Dakota while working with those who had developmental disabilities. "That was like being a caregiver on a different level," Lavetta noted.
When Lavetta first went to the client, they talked about his care strategy and he asked about her experience. The client smiled and said, "I trust you. We'll figure it all out." He knew instinctively he was in good hands. Lavetta said: "I shook his hand, looked him in the eye and said, 'I'm in your home. I will always shoot straight with you.' He liked that. He was a blessing, the sweetest thing. I told his family, 'I will support your dad as if he were a family member. This is not just a job.' He was sharp and a great conversationalist."
Lavetta worked 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and even more if needed. The widower received additional care from family members, including his brother. Sadly, the client passed away in February 2019. Lavetta said: "I remember the week before he died, we had the television turned to a Christian channel. They were singing 'When the Roll is Called Up Yonder,' a Johnny Cash song, and I turned and saw him mouthing the song because he could barely speak. My shift ended before he passed, but I knew it'd happen soon. At 1 a.m., they called me. I already had told him I'd see him later 'Up There.' He gave me three pecks on the cheek. He was at peace."
Recruitment and Engagement Coordinator Mike Murphy said: "Whether Lavetta's on a two-hour shift, or a 12-hour shift, she's going to give her heart. There's no task too big or too small for Lavetta. She's been in some of the toughest situations for a CAREGiver, but when Lavetta is there, we know she'll handle it. In fact, the phrase we hear Lavetta say time and time again is, 'Don't worry – I can handle it!' "
Lavetta was honored as the CAREGiver Cornerstone Award recipient for the 2019 first quarter at the award-winning Home Instead Senior Care franchise owned by Bryson and Linda McQuiston. "I love the job and appreciate the staff. Their screening and hiring practices are awesome. The training and orientation helped me. I had never seen dementia, so the Alzheimer's or other dementia class was helpful. They do a good job of matching personalities and find where you will mesh with a client. That says a lot about the company. It is a Christian-based company," Lavetta said.
When the Tennessee native recounted her 2018 return to the Dyersburg area from Minot, North Dakota, she said: "I promised Dad I'd come home when I was here for the 2017 December holidays. I'd hear from my family, 'Sissy needs to come home.' I had lived in North Dakota for 16 years. People mention how much colder and snowier it is in North Dakota, but coming back to Tennessee was a big adjustment because of the humidity. I know God had a plan for me here."
Recalling her father's passing, Lavetta said: "God had His hand in it. Everybody got the chance to say, 'I love you.' But he wouldn't pass until Mom gave the word. We said, 'Mom, tell Dad it's OK to go.' When she did, the look on his face was surprise and relief. He went to sleep and passed. My consolation with Dad's passing is I know where he is. When my client passed away, I processed it emotionally and chose to pick right up with my other client without much interruption. I needed to go on, and the client needed the help."
Emphasizing Lavetta's importance to Home Instead Senior Care, its clients and their families, Mike said: "If someone would ask what a Home Instead CAREGiver looks like, I'd show them a picture of Lavetta. She understands what it means to 'live' Home Instead. No matter what she's doing, she works as hard as she can."
Our franchise serves most of West Tennessee, including Jackson, Medina, Humboldt, Milan, Trenton, Dyer, Alamo, Bells, Lexington, Henderson, Dyersburg, Gates, Halls, Brownsville, Covington, Brighton, Mason, Ripley, Paris, Munford, Atoka and Union City. All Home Instead Senior Care CAREGivers are screened, trained, bonded and insured. For inquiries about employment, please call (731) 984-7062 or apply online. For further information visit us at Home Instead Senior Care.