From time to time, self-doubt had begun to creep into Home Instead CAREGiver Sherry Stark's mind.
"Am I doing enough?"
One day, as Sherry was returning to a hospice client's bedroom, Sherry heard the 91-year-old client praying: "Dear Lord, when Sherry cannot be here to help me, please send me a CAREGiver who is just like Sherry."
Sherry had to turn around and cry. "To actually hear her pray and include me in the prayer was overwhelming. Her faith was strong. She had asked me to pray with her sometimes. She and her sister, who also is a client, receive a daily devotional called 'The Upper Room,' and I read to them from it," Sherry said.
Sadly, the hospice client later passed away, and Sherry was present at that moment. "It was peaceful. Appropriately for the client, we had Christian music playing softly in the background. It was like sitting around the throne room of God and waiting. My feeling when she passed away was, 'Her work here on Earth is done. She has a new body, and she's not in pain.' It was amazing to be there during that second. That's what I was meant to do," Sherry recalled.
Several weeks after the client's passing in early July, Manager of Client and CAREGiver Relations Mike Murphy announced Sherry had been honored as the Home Instead Senior Care® franchise's second-quarter CAREGiver Cornerstone Award recipient. Sherry is among the outstanding CAREGivers who serve alongside franchise owners Bryson and Linda McQuiston at the award-winning franchise in Jackson, Tennessee. The McQuistons have owned the franchise since 2008, and Bryson has worked in senior care for more than 25 years while helping families navigate the complex issues in the aging process.
Following the client's passing this summer, Sherry has continued to assist her 84-year-old sister. "Her sister, who is my primary client, is understandably still in shock. This is a daily process, as grieving often is. I started helping the sisters March 29," Sherry said.
"We try to focus on different things. My client was a ballroom dancer for fun as a hobby. She has pulled out her gowns and costumes, and she remembers who made them. She's a good person who is a retired schoolteacher, and she's fun. She lives alone, but she is next door to a sister and brother-in-law. She is sharp and just likes to talk. She has house plants I look after."
Sherry found Home Instead Senior Care during an online search and joined the franchise in December 2018. She had worked in childcare for 24 years before switching fields, becoming a CNA and working at a rehabilitation center. "I worked there for two years and went back to childcare before I decided to try one-on-one in-home care with Home Instead," she said.
She added: "It is going great. I wasn't sure at the start if it would be fast-paced enough. Facility work is on the other side of the care spectrum, which is to say that it is overwhelming. It's not up close and personal. As a CAREGiver, you learn about the clients' history and their families. There are lots of stories. I think most seniors like to relive their past, and there are great stories. Many times, they just need someone who will listen."
Emotions before and after a client's death can be devastating, but Sherry hopes to try to soothe the pain. "I lost a male client in February immediately after I started with Home Instead, and I had experienced the loss of nursing-home residents. Hospice care may be a calling I had not previously considered. In the face of loss, I can provide compassionate comfort."
And Sherry might be the answer to someone's prayer.
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.