2020 CAREGiver of the Year - Janina Noel
Our CAREGivers℠ play an important role in the lives of aging adults in our communities, and Janina is a big part of that. Here at Home Instead® in Appleton, WI, we live by a higher purpose — our Core Purpose, which is “to teach others about Love (v).” The belief that love is more impactful when it is put into action is inherent in everything that Janina does, both in serving her clients and living her life.
Growing in her application of Love (v) has been a lifelong endeavor for Janina. It started when she was a young woman growing up in a small town in Germany, where her mother — a caregiver — worked in a nursing home. Janina fondly remembers visiting its residents and helping her mother serve them. She also assisted an elderly neighbor with her grocery shopping, hair washing and other household tasks.
With Janina’s German heritage, we were so blessed to partner her with a couple from Germany. They have had a wonderful connection! In fact, client Sophia stated, “To have someone come into our home and speak German with us is indescribable.” In addition to conversing in German, they have found joy in baking traditional German recipes and singing traditional German songs, sprinkled with good laughter over recalling some of the lyrics.
When Sophia began suffering from depression due to her macular degeneration, Janina reached out to a library that, in turn, connected her with a free books-on-tape service. Now, Janina receives product catalogs in the mail and, together with Sophia, orders audio books to play together. Hearing books on tape, particularly classic German fairytales from her youth, has brightened Sophia’s days.
Other clients have had similar experiences with Janina. Judith said, “An ideal CAREGiver is trustworthy and kindhearted, yet I find so much more than that in Janina. She has become a trusted friend. She respects my desire to remain as independent as possible.” This client’s family added, “We are so grateful for everything that Janina brings to Mom’s life. She has enriched it, offering the respect, support and encouragement needed to not only remain independent but also retain a high quality of life that can easily be lost without compassionate people like her.”
Following open-heart surgery seven years ago, client Barb needed care and support in her home. In the years since, Janina has seen her through chronic back issues, a hip replacement and recovery from a broken ankle.
The client’s daughter said:
“My father appreciates the support Janina provides and the tasks she performs in the home. From the time Janina stepped into the house, Mom sensed a level of comfort and trust with her. Janina is respectful, patient, attentive and dependable, but what sets her apart is her ability to develop relationships. Furthermore, Janina is a compassionate and empathetic listener; she takes an active interest in what is going on in my mother’s life. Through the years, Janina has gone from being a companion to a dear friend to a member of our family.”
“Janina goes above and beyond expected duties. Over the past year, my husband and I have had the difficult task of moving my father-in-law to memory care due to his rapid decline from Alzheimer’s. Upon hearing this, Janina provided us with a book, along with helpful information she received in her own training.
Another thing we are grateful for is Janina encouraging my mom to be as independent as possible. When she was no longer able to walk long distances, Janina persuaded her to use a wheelchair or an electric cart. Together, they get groceries, shop or just go for a ride to get out of the house. When Mom wanted to get outdoors, Janina showed up with an extra walker for outdoor use that she picked up at a thrift store. The companionship and positivity that Janina has displayed during the pandemic have certainly helped my mother cope with the quarantine.”
“When Mom fell and broke her ankle a few weeks ago, she had to temporarily move to a rehabilitation center. One of the first things she tearfully expressed was that she did not want to ‘lose’ Janina, ‘She is a treasure that can’t be replaced.’ That is the best testimony to what Janina means to our family! She deserves recognition for the compassionate mark she is making in her corner of the world.”
It has been 18 years since Janina was encouraged by a friend at church to join Home Instead. She stated, “In these past years, caregiving has been a wonderful mixture of clients and family. Being in a position to help them gives me joy. They have all touched my life in a special way. I treat all of them like I’m taking care of my grandparents because we should all aim to love our neighbors. To have a job that fulfills this is why I continue. What I do makes such a difference in the lives of others!
She added, “I’m motivated by my belief in God and the verse John 4:11: ‘Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.’ Being a CAREGiver is God’s calling in my life, and I believe he brought me to Home Instead.”