Northern Shenandoah Valley (Change Location)

Dec 20, 2022

Susan Hit a Home Run With Client

Written By: Brian Lahm
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Home Instead® Caregiver of the Month Susan Slattery’s lifelong fondness for major league baseball was a strong connecting point with a Home Instead client. Susan grew up on Long Island, New York, and is a loyal Yankees fan. “He also liked the Yankees. I collected baseball cards when I was young, and I remember having Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris cards,” said Susan, referring to two Yankee icons of the 1950s and 1960s.

“I had baseball knowledge, so we had that in common, among other things. He’d ask me baseball trivia questions. If it was something I didn’t know, I would go home and ask my husband, who also is a baseball fan. When I got the answers from my husband, who also grew up on Long Island, I’d take the information back to the client. I know the generational preferences of my clients, such as sports, music and the big news and social issues of that day. Having that knowledge builds bonds with clients,” Susan said.

Susan assisted the 80-something client for two years before he moved to an assisted-living community. When he ceased to be a client for Home Instead of Winchester, his wife remained at home and became Susan’s client. “I was really close with this client and his family. His wife is wonderful. Being with a Caregiver not only improves her life, but it does the same thing for other clients. Companionship is a big component of the total care we offer. The clients have someone with whom they can talk. Sometimes they need to get something off their chests, so they tell someone who is not a family member. They know we will keep it confidential. That can be part of the trust factor you build with clients,” Susan said.

The clients’ trust in Susan hasn’t gone unnoticed. In November, Home Instead General Manager Allyson Starling announced Susan had been honored as the franchise’s Caregiver of the Month. She’s been winning over clients for nearly three years. In January 2020, Susan joined the award-winning Home Instead franchise that serves the Northern Shenandoah Valley.

Before coming aboard the Home Instead team, Susan had been a private-duty Caregiver for about eight months with an Alzheimer’s client. “I enjoyed working with the lady. It was my first time in professional senior care. I lost her when she moved to Texas to be with family. Friends of my client mentioned Home Instead to me, and I also saw a Home Instead commercial on television,” said Susan, describing her tipoff to the Home Instead franchise owned by Keith Clay.

“I enjoy working with people and helping them. I wish I had come upon this line of work earlier in life. I might have pursued a career in nursing or something similar in the medical field. I had actually worked mostly in customer service, dealt constantly with people and was a problem-solver,” Susan recalled. “But I didn’t always work. I took time to be at home with the boys as they grew up. Virginia is a great place to raise a family, and we decided to retire to Winchester. My husband and I still have family in New York and in Florida.”

Susan said her experience with Home Instead “has been really, really good.” She added: “I receive a lot of support. The staff gets back to me right away if I have questions. The schedulers are awesome. They make it so easy. They are always upbeat. When you know what you need in terms of scheduling, they have ways of making it work.”

Susan joined Home Instead as COVID-19 was spreading, and she said the office’s COVID-19 support always has been good. Supplies are available, and scheduling preferences were taken into account. “I was careful, because I didn’t want to bring COVID-19 home to my husband. I settled on limiting myself to one client and working with him only. The client and his wife also thought that was a good idea. This exclusive arrangement set a good tone for me as far as working with Home Instead. I worked from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and then again from 6:30 to 9:30 at night with them,” she said.

Of course since then, Susan has had a variety of clients. A 97-year-old client was “a tough cookie” at the start. “It took a little time to win him over. He is a World War II veteran, and now he tells me about the war. I have learned a lot about him. I work crossword puzzles with him,” Susan said. “One client was a former farmer and told me about his work and how he and other farmers had to fight off predators from time to time to keep them from eating into their crops.”

When asked for a major key to senior-care success, Susan said: “If a client is having a bad day, you cannot take it personally. You simply have to rise above it. Many times they are in pain. I try to help them have a better day. This is fulfilling work, so I’ll try to do this as long as I can. I don’t like to sit. But who knows what the future holds? My husband and I might move closer to family in the future. For now, it’s senior care.”

All Home Instead Caregivers are screened, trained and insured. For inquiries about employment, please apply online at For further information about Home Instead services, visit our website at

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