CAREGiver of the Quarter Audrey’s love for senior care had its origins in a quaint South Carolina town many years ago. Audrey recalls the steamy summer visit to her grandmother’s home as if it were yesterday. In tiny St. Matthew, about an 11-hour drive from Audrey’s home in Brooklyn, New York, 12-year-old Audrey was sticking closely to her grandmother.
Audrey’s grandmother finally asked, “Why don’t you go outside and play with your brother and your sister?” Audrey replied, “I want to be with you and help you.” That’s when Audrey first thought about a career where she’d be a nurse or a caregiver. “Grandma was diabetic, and I learned about insulin. Once, she fell against the stove and was burned. I felt helpless not knowing what to do. I never wanted to feel that way again. I went to a high school with a nurse education program. I wanted to learn what to do. Grandma died before I could do that.”
Audrey first wanted to be a registered nurse, but she discovered RNs aren’t connected to giving care as much as CNAs are. “Registered nurses are more likely to keep records and manage situations. The CNAs report to them. In reality, the most important person in a hospital or nursing home is the CNA. They have the biggest caregiving impact. That is the same way for a Home Instead® CAREGiver,” said Audrey, who in November 2019 joined the award-winning Home Instead franchise, owned by Cara Delgado, which serves north and northwest Houston.
After high school, Audrey began working in a nursing home. “I became a CNA-GNA (GNA is a Geriatric Nursing Aide) in 1993. You had to be a GNA to work with seniors. I worked in a nursing home for about six months before things changed one day,” Audrey explained. “I was pulled into an office and told I was spending too much time with the residents and not getting enough tasks done. In other words, they didn’t want us spending more than five minutes with a resident before moving on to the next one.”
Thinking to herself, Audrey remembered her internal voice saying, “There was to be no companionship aspect of care. They were asking us to treat the residents like factory widgets that you’d handle in an assembly line. That feels like a lack of care.” So, Audrey eventually told her bosses she could not do it. A private-duty caregiver who was sitting with a resident sympathized and told Audrey the resident’s family was looking for another private-duty caregiver.
Audrey turned to her faith in God and took a step into the unknown – the world of private-duty caregiving. “If it was meant to be, I knew I would succeed as a private-duty caregiver. If not, I’d probably go back to working in a facility. I was blessed by God. I had so many cases, so many clients, that I was always busy. I never got tired of it. It’s my career, my entire work life. It’s what I love doing,” said Audrey, who has spent 28½ years in caregiving.
When Audrey was a private-duty caregiver, nearly all of her clients’ families asked the doctors to talk to Audrey as she accompanied her clients to the medical appointments. “The families wanted my input. We made decisions together on what was the best course for the senior. To be thought of in that way made me excited to wake up in the morning. Rain or snow, I’d come to my shift. Doctors would tell someone, ‘Get Audrey Monroe as your private-duty caregiver. She knows what she is doing,’ ” Audrey explained.
As a private-duty caregiver, Audrey took care of eight seniors from the same family. “They did not want to lose me. Talk of my success with their family members got around. I traveled with some of the clients as their families went to such places as Jerusalem and Paris. As a traveling caregiver, my name got out even more. I helped people I know and loved,” Audrey said.
Audrey found her way to Home Instead after her husband was transferred from Maryland to Texas for his job. Audrey believes she and her husband might have found their retirement state. “I’m from Brooklyn, moved to Queens, moved to Atlanta for a year. Then we moved to Maryland and now Texas. We have grandkids in California, North Carolina, South Carolina and Michigan,” Audrey said. But no matter where she’s been, Audrey has helped seniors.
“I am very passionate about the elderly. Mom told me from Day 1 that I’d be taking care of seniors. I’d stop playing in the streets as a child and help a senior cross at an intersection. Of course, there was my grandma in South Carolina,” Audrey said.
“Being so passionate about your job is the approach you have to take or you will not be successful. I can sleep with a peace of mind because I’ve done my very best. My clients become my friends and then become my family. They are people who lived longer, just got old and need the help. We as a society need to make the effort to help them. I believe it’s a lie to pretend to care about someone, and I never lie to people. I give all I can give to touch the lives of the seniors and their families. This is my fate. You must think of others and not yourself.”
Audrey added: “Gray hair means knowledge. Seniors are living history books. Talking to a senior is better than reading a book. I’ve been blessed. God took me to the people with whom He wants me to help.”
All Home Instead CAREGivers are screened, trained, bonded and insured. For inquiries about employment, please call (281) 440-5160 or apply online. For further information about Home Instead, visit our website.