Please congratulate Robbie our March Care Giver of the Month. Here is how Robbie is described: “Robbie has never met a stranger,” “People gravitate toward Robbie,” “Robbie loves people and loves being around them,” “Robbie is a strong Christian believer. Jehovah God is her moral compass,” “Robbie is an only child, but in a broader sense, she’s got many brothers and sisters,” “As a family caregiver for several senior loved ones, Robbie always found joy.”
Family caregiving is a starting point for Robbie. “I was devoted to my grandmother, mother and aunt,” said Robbie, whose mother worked for many years. They lived on the west side of Chicago. “I didn’t start my work career in senior care. I was licensed in cosmetology in 1982 and became a cosmetology instructor that year, too. But I gravitated toward helping family, and I had a certain amount of flexibility at my salon.”
Robbie moved her grandmother from a St. Louis nursing home to her Chicago-area family home. “After we relocated her in 1998, she lived for five more years and reached 83. She was an amputee, having lost a leg, but I told Mom, ‘Granny doesn’t need to be in a nursing home.’ She did not like the nursing home. She came home with us and had a good time,” recalled Robbie, who also helped an aunt who had cancer and died in 2010.
Later, Robbie’s mother suffered a stroke. “I left the salon to take care of her, and it was an honor, a pleasure and a joy,” said Robbie, whose mother passed away March 21, 2017, at age 76. “After her stroke, she went from the hospital to rehabilitation for a month or two and back home to us. After a while, there were far too many challenges for her, and she went to a nursing home and then into hospice. I loved my mom, who was a lively person, and visited her every day. I am proud to say that the older I get, the more I look like her.”
Robbie entered the world of professional caregiving and worked for another home-care company before Home Instead. She joined Home Instead in Oak Park in July 2019, but when she moved to Schaumburg, Robbie discovered the office in Elk Grove Village. The Oak Park owners Tia and Richard Harrison told Elk Grove Village owner Kelly Hutchison, “Robbie is one of our best CAREGivers.” She stayed with her Oak Park client until that office could transition Robbie’s client before she moved to Elk Grove Village.
Working for Home Instead has been a good fit, as if Robbie is helping family. “I love what I am doing. I really enjoy people. Some clients have no one. My daughter works at a hospital and sees seniors come in for treatment, and they don’t have family members helping them. I make life easier for seniors. I’ve never had a problem with a client all my years. I come in the home and smile. The clients know my heart,” Robbie said.
Since late April 2020, Robbie has served as a live-in CAREGiver for a 96-year-old widow. “The client has become family. I put a smile on her face. She is a nice person,” Robbie explained. “She can get up on a walker, but I am behind her with a wheelchair. We walk every day as Robbie helps with her therapy exercises. She is very willing.” Robbie added: “Her memory is so good she can tell you about things as far back as her childhood. Her eyesight is not that good, so there are no puzzles or coloring books.”
Robbie praised the client’s daughter, pointing out: “She provides excellent care for her mother. She calls her mother at 9 a.m. each day, right after breakfast. The daughter is an only child, and I commend her all the time. Family members need to hear that.”
Robbie said the client likes a consistent routine. “She loves the TV news and is aware of current events. She is not stressed about COVID-19. She may ask a question or two about it, but nothing out of the normal. She is fairly aware of the dangers. We take all of the precautionary measures. On the lighter side of things, I put the TV on a jazz music channel on Saturdays because she likes that,” Robbie said.
Robbie said she has “felt the love” at the Home Instead office. She said: “Mr. Hutchison is the best. He and the staff are pleasant, kind-hearted, generous and patient with my questions. I am thankful to be part of the family at Home Instead. I must also point out that all of my clients are family. The future is bright. It is a pleasure to work with Home Instead, and I see Home Instead in my long-term future. It doesn’t get any better.”