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Oct 10, 2022

Care Professional of the Month - Karen H.

Care Pro of the Month Karen H.

Home Instead® Care Professional of the Month Karen Hanik always has a huge heart for people who need help. By simply looking at her career path, it’s easy to see that many people – young and old – have benefited from Karen’s assistance over the years.

Before Karen joined Home Instead of Itasca, Illinois, on Nov. 23, 2020, she worked in the special-education department at Palatine High School for 25 years. For the first 13 years of working at Palatine, Karen had a second job working with adults who had special needs.

Then, for about eight years, Karen’s compassionate heart stretched beyond humans.

“I had to quit that second job working with special-needs adults because my husband needed help at our dog-pool business. The venture consisted of a pool for dogs who needed water therapy after a surgery, or for dogs whose owners wanted them to have a fun swim. I was the ‘fun-swim person’ who oversaw that part of the operation,” Karen said.

Palatine High School was a great place to work, Karen said. “However,” she added, “I was starting to feel as if there was nothing more I could do to challenge myself. So, it was time to leave. When I was looking for another job, I was tooling around Indeed.com. I wanted a job that was close to the special-education field in terms of the ways in which I could help others, and I found Home Instead.”

For Home Instead’s senior clients, Karen provides companionship, safety assurance, meal preparation, medication reminders, light housekeeping, and transportation and errands. Karen offers personal assistance with eating, grooming, dressing, bathing, incontinence care, cognitive impairment, hospice support and mobility. By expertly doing so, Karen and her fellow Care Pros not only assist their clients, but help their families eliminate worry, reduce stress and re-establish personal freedom.

Karen explained that she started as a Level 1 Care Pro at Home Instead. Then she was trained to be a Level 2 Care Pro. “That meant I could work with seniors who have more challenging situations, such as dementia,” Karen said.

To build on their knowledge and experience, Karen and other Care Pros 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.

“I’ve had only two clients. My client now has Alzheimer’s disease, and I’m with her for 40 hours a week,” Karen said. “I like my client. I like the stability of being only with her. Not one day goes by that she hasn’t made me laugh. I also have embraced the challenges of learning about Alzheimer’s and the behaviors that it triggers. Previous to Home Instead, I had had only a couple of experiences with Alzheimer’s, so this has been an education. I’m a science person. My client’s husband has a book on Alzheimer’s. When he asks me a question about the disease, if I don’t know it, I look in the book. It’s a terrible, yet fascinating disease. Unfortunately, she’s in late stage Alzheimer’s.”

Among Karen’s favorite stories, one involved her and her dementia client watching the NBC drama series “Chicago Fire.” Karen explained: “There is a character, firefighter Kelly Severide, who is handsome. He was in a scene we were watching, and she had a comment about him. I said, ‘He’s beautiful, right?’ In one of her lucid moments, she said, ‘Yeah, I’d take him.’ I

laughed so hard. When she makes me laugh, it’s because she’s just told me something like, ‘You're full of it.’ ”

Karen loves being a part of the Care Pro team for the Chicagoland franchise, a member of a network comprised of Home Instead, Inc. and its parent company, Honor. With the world’s largest home-care network and the most advanced care platform, Honor and Home Instead are revolutionizing care for older adults, their families and Care Pros. Combined, the network has more than 100,000 Care Pros across 13 countries, meeting the growing needs of millions of older adults and their families worldwide.