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September 29, 2021

Care Professional of the Month Vilija

vilija september

Vilija Saukaitiene is the picture of a humble servant.

Check out this conversation:

  • Congratulations, Vilija, we have honored you as our CAREGiver of the Month,” said Angie McCulloch, client services manager for the award-winning Home Instead® franchise in Elk Grove Village, Illinois.
  • Vilija replied: “Why me? I just simply do my job! I care about people, so I want to help them. Everyone should feel this way.”

Later, Vilija said: “My honor was a surprise. I’m not sure how everything transpired, but Angie called me one day out of the blue. I really like Home Instead. They are wonderful people. They have very nice managers. Communication is good, and the training was good.”

Franchise owner Kelly Hutchison said, “Vilija is very sweet and caring, but her love makes her very strong. Vilija was with one elderly woman for about a year. This client lived in an assisted-living facility and had a bed-bug outbreak in her room. Vilija’s teammate became very alarmed and refused to return to work. Meanwhile, Vilija remained dedicated, helping clean the room and resolving the problem. Vilija never changed her schedule or asked for a day off during the eradication. When asked about her toughness, Vilija simply said, ‘Everyone needs care, even if they have bed bugs!’ ”

Vilija, who joined Home Instead on May 13, 2019, did not come to America in 1992 from her native Lithuania with a professional senior-care background. Her compassionate heart had been well-established in another people-helping career while she was living in Priekule, Lithuania. She was a teacher. After earning a degree at Vilnius University, she taught language arts for 12 years in her homeland.

Using the same kind of patience and steady focus for helping others that she had employed as a teacher, Vilija has been a success in senior care. Of course, there have been adjustments, Vilija said, but she still has to win the trust of those whom she serves. Bonding can come easily sometimes; with others, developing relationships is not such an easy thing.

“There are challenges. You can find some difficulties, and most of the time it is with managing dementia behaviors,” said Vilija, who has received specialized training help from the Home Instead office staff just as all other CAREGivers have.

To build on their knowledge and experience, Vilija and other CAREGivers are offered the opportunity to increase their dementia-care skills by taking part in the Home Instead network’s one-of-a-kind training protocol. Home Instead’s Person-Centered Care Training for Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias is recognized by the Alzheimer’s Association® for incorporating the evidence-based dementia-care practice recommendations in these topic areas: Alzheimer’s and dementia, person-centered care, assessment and care planning, activities of daily living, and behaviors and communication.

Vilija explained further: “You have to get to know the clients as well as you can so you can figure out how to help them the best. If you can get them to work with you to help them with activities of daily living, that’s a big thing. Sometimes, they simply cannot remember some things, so you have to stick with them and gently reinforce what needs to be done.”

She added: “One very nice client can’t recall something a couple of minutes after we’ve finished a discussion. It’s frustrating for them, and you can see that. You have to remain patient. Sometimes when the behavior is too much, you can step away momentarily, which is like ‘hitting reset.’ Sometimes you hear a client say bad things, but I don’t pay attention. With the very same client, at one moment, things can be difficult and then be beautiful the next minute.

“Some of the dementia clients are very nice, and they tend to ask more questions, perhaps repetitive in nature. I am careful how I view what goes on, because who knows? Maybe tomorrow I’ll have dementia. I try to understand everything. We can change nothing with respect to dementia. It’s incurable and only gets worse. But we want to help keep them at home.”

Vilija is among more than 100,000 CAREGivers worldwide, and she has helped add to those numbers because of her strong belief in Home Instead’s purpose. It isn’t hard to see Vilija lives the Home Instead principles of “Build Trust, Take the Lead and Share Your Heart.” For Vilija and her fellow CAREGivers, touching lives impacts their souls, whether they are providing physical help such as light housekeeping, meal preparation, medication reminders or personal care or if they are offering emotional support in a companionship role.