Home Instead® Care Professional of the Month Charlotte White thought for a moment about how to describe her stellar 46-year career in nursing, health care and professional senior care. A humble person, Charlotte said, “For me, it’s all about weathering the storm. That’s my theme.”
Anyone who works in nursing, health care and professional senior care certainly knows about the incalculable number of challenges, big and small, that he or she undertakes. It’s part of the career journey that few others are aware of. Charlotte already had encountered caregiving difficulties – and fulfillment – when she was barely a teenager.
At age 14, Charlotte served as the dominant family caregiver for her mother, whose breast cancer was diagnosed at nearly stage 4. “There was no home health-care nurse for my mother. I was it. She suffered greatly from radiation therapy, and I was treating her burns with a syringe and bandages. At that time, the medical world just didn’t know much about the side effects of radiation treatments,” said Charlotte, the de facto family “CNA” who also had to help take care of a 1-year-old brother. “There were eight of us, and three were younger, so there definitely was a daycare aspect of life for some of us.” In addition to taking care of her mother and siblings, Charlotte also assisted both grandmothers, two uncles and her father at different times as an unpaid family caregiver. “It was all a labor of love,” she said.
Professionally, Charlotte jumped in with both feet and became a CNA when she was just 18. Many 18-year-olds aren’t sure what they want for dinner, let alone think about tackling the pressure of serving as a CNA at that age. After becoming a CNA, Charlotte had even more goals in mind. “I decided to try to become a registered nurse. But during that time of studies, I had to exit the program because of a surgery. I went on to graduate from college with a liberal arts degree,” explained Charlotte, who later attended a trade school to earn her certification as a medical assistant.
As another example of her life’s “weathering the storm” theme, Charlotte took a job with a unique medical clinic where about 80 percent of the patients were from an Asian country. Charlotte said, “By no means was it an easy job. For the back office, it was multiple task-oriented and a definite language barrier existed. To resolve the medical diagnosis issue, a translated review of symptoms ((ROS) board was created with the help of a patient who was also an instructor at Richland College and taught the Asian language. It worked very effectively. Now I have decided to remain in just one career, home health care.”
Charlotte said, “I love one-on-one care. Home Instead is my best bet for senior care. After 20 years of working as a medical assistant with multiple tasks in internal medicine and also remaining as a home health-care provider 46 years, I can say Home Instead has been my best choice overall. I’ve been working for Home Instead for about four years, and I like it very much.”
In July 2022, Home Instead owner Todd Felker honored Charlotte as his award-winning franchise’s Care Pro of the Month. The highly successful office serves Collin County, Texas, including Plano. “Charlotte is our winner for this month. She’s an amazing Care Professional who has been with us since 2018. Charlotte is very positive, energetic and very reliable. She has been with the same client, who resides in assisted living, for several years. Charlotte was fantastic navigating the COVID-19 issue while caring for her client in the facility,” Todd said.
Home Instead has been on the front line of protection for its clients and their family members during the COVID-19 pandemic. Charlotte, her fellow Care Pros and staff members are unsung heroes, serving society’s most vulnerable population in Collin County. Seniors and people who have severe underlying medical conditions such as heart or lung disease or diabetes are at higher risk for developing serious complications from the COVID-19 virus. Despite its potential for danger, the challenges related to COVID-19 have served as a rallying point for Todd’s franchise.
Long before COVID-19, Charlotte said, her franchise had always set goals that established quality care and safety first and foremost. “We are proactive and not reactive. We received PPE (personal protective equipment) and special training, and we were always sanitizing surfaces and other things. Companionship was even more important in care communities because of the extended quarantine orders that kept family members from personal contact with their senior loved ones. In some instances, we are starting to see that again,” Charlotte said.
Tackling any challenge involves a teamwork approach that Charlotte praises. “There is a good line of communication with the office. I am very comfortable with the managers because I am made to feel very welcome. I feel as if I am a member of a very friendly team,” Charlotte said.
“I like the staff’s flexibility with my availability. Our schedules are posted well in advance. When things come up, such as jury duty, the office adjusts. Everyone has an unexpected emergency now and then. I also have served as a family caregiver, and the office understands. They always are planning for in-service classes and ongoing education, and these are good opportunities.”
Home Instead’s scheduling team, Kelly Spawn and Garnet Odum, gives Charlotte and her Care Pro teammates a leg-up advantage before they ever head to a first shift with a new client. “You always know about the client’s background before the first visit. I will know about their care plan and what the client likes or dislikes. I can also figure out if they will be compatible, the travel requirements to their location and the schedule they will require,” Charlotte explained.
In her free time, Charlotte’s hobbies include working on Norman Rockwell-like drawings and walking around her neighborhood lake. Even when she’s enjoying time off, Charlotte’s mind often circles back to the priority in her life – helping others.
“One good part of the work is that it is rewarding and provides the inspiration to keep you going,” Charlotte said. “Last but not least, if you become ill yourself, you have the knowledge of references to call the preferred doctors. So, yes, Home Instead of Plano is my best bet.”
All Home Instead Care Professionals are screened, trained and insured. For inquiries about employment, please call (469) 916-9202 or apply online. For further information about Home Instead, visit our website.