CAREGiver Maria Patino's client had not been to the mall in years after suffering a brain aneurysm that forced him to a nursing home for two years before he was finally able to go home. Maria, receiving permission from the client's 92-year-old mother, rocked her client's world by getting him outside again and reintroducing him to shopping and restaurant venues.
Maria's creative and bold companionship aspect of care is one of the reasons why she was honored as CAREGiver of the Month for Home Instead Senior Care® of Victoria less than five months after joining owner Stephanie Niles' award-winning franchise office just a six-minute drive from the mall.
"He was so excited to get out," said Maria, describing the emotions of her first client after she joined Home Instead on May 11. "I am able to help build his spirit by taking him places and putting a smile on his face. I love being there for him, just as I feel that way for all clients.
"My client had been confined to his home, usually watching TV, and he seemed depressed when I came to assist him. His mother is an amazing woman, and she is not my client because she does so well on her own. But I do their grocery shopping, usually on Wednesdays, because I am with them Monday through Friday."
Maria admires both her client and his mother for their spunk, and Maria has been part of her client's comeback story from a severely disabling situation.
"He is very sweet person who loves to joke around and has a big heart. I am his only CAREGiver. He knows my face but will forget my name from time to time and will call me 'The Home Instead girl,' " Maria said. "Life has been tough since the aneurysm, and he needs some help throughout the day. He has had to learn to walk again, but he is a fall risk. He is still in the process of relearning many things and communicating. I understand him best among those who have taken care of him. His mother is grateful and thankful for my care. I help with medication reminders and some personal care, as well as reminders of the things he can do on his own."
Maria said her client has had no problems when they go out, but they tend to avoid the big-box stores and other shopping places that have huge crowds because they make him nervous. "I try to take him out for at least an hour each day," Maria said. "Buying a new pair of pants turned out to be quite an adventure because he had not done it for a while. We spent an hour and a half shopping for the pants in one store, but it was fun and he enjoyed every minute of it."
Maria and his client are almost celebrities at two venues because they frequent them so much. "Everyone knows us at the neighborhood drug store and at a deli. He loves it, and they love to greet him. This socialization is a good step for him, and he has benefited from the companionship."
Assisting her client plus helping a married couple on Saturdays have left Maria with a good feeling, and the Home Instead office staff also has been a huge positive. "I can't say that I 'like' my job. That is not my answer: I love my job. I love, love this job," Maria emphasized with a big laugh. "Home Instead Senior Care is the best company I've ever worked for.
"I tell the office, 'You are my family.' I never have had a job like this one. Stephanie values her workers. The girls in the office are amazing because they value your hard work and dedication. Liz, Carmen and Marissa are amazing and go above and beyond the call of duty for us CAREGivers to help us provide the best care for our clients."
Maria pointed out that she had worked for six years for another company that provided in-home health care. "Home Instead's training is good, but there is follow-up in everything they do. What I like is that I get a call after every shift to see if everything went OK and if there are any concerns. I love talking to Liz.
"With my weekend clients, I am part of a 24/7 CAREGiver team that is awesome. No matter where you look, there are positives."
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