Care Professional Awards & Recognition
At Home Instead®, our success revolves around the work of our Care Professionals – and we make sure they know it! We celebrate Care Pros year-round through: notes of appreciation, recognition in our employee newsletter, flowers, extra time off, and even impromptu office parties.
Do You Know Someone With A Caring Heart?
We all have that someone who is a natural born caregiver. If you know a friend or family member that would make an outstanding Care Pro, someone who would easily receive a standing ovation from Home Instead, please share the career opportunity - we’d love to meet them!
Caregiver of the Month: Sherley R.
After 33 years in corporate America, including 13 years with her last company, Sherley was unceremoniously laid off at age 62. “I was forced out,” Sherley said. “I had worked my entire life. After that, I stayed home for about a year and did not like it. Sitting around and watching TV was not for me. It’s hard for me not to work. I also like to learn new things.”
One of Sherley’s former co-workers had been impressed with Sherley’s compassion, attention to details and work ethic. She called Sherley and said her mother needed care. The friend said: “I can’t pay you much, but I wonder if you could help my mother?” Sherley said, “Yes!” It was the start of something special for Sherley.
“I took care of her mother for six months before her health declined, she went in and out of the hospital, and then passed away,” Sherley recalled. “But I continued with private-duty caregiving for 3 to 3½ years before I came to Home Instead® of Metairie. After my last private-duty job ended, I looked online for caregiving positions. I applied at one or two other agencies before applying at Home Instead. I read the online reviews about Home Instead and was impressed.”
On Aug. 21, 2018, Sherley joined owner Lisa Rabito’s award-winning Home Instead franchise that serves the Orleans and Jefferson Parishes. A little more than four years later, Sherley was honored as a Care Professional of the Month. Care Pro Development Coordinator Fay Kelting said: “Sherley is just a beautiful lady inside and outside, a wonderful, compassionate person who is so devoted to her role as a Care Pro. In her four years with Home Instead, she has been one Care Pro who has stood out many times. This is a well-deserved award for her.”
Sherley’s private-duty senior care was only the tip of her caregiving experience “iceberg.” As she was growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, Sherley did all kinds of family caregiving as the seventh of 13 children. “The older kids always took care of the younger kids. The responsibilities trickled down. As I got older, my time came to take care of others. I took care of all of the babies,” Sherley explained.
“I grew up on a farm. In addition to family caregiving, there were a lot of chores. You did what you had to do. You were tired when you went to bed. When I was a teenager, Dad took me on Saturdays to help a great-aunt. He’d drop me off and pick me up at nightfall. I’d clean her house, help her eat, just whatever was needed. So, I learned at an early age everyone took care of everyone else in our family. There were plenty of chances to help. One grandmother was getting ready to move in with us when I was in junior high school, but she died before she could,” said Sherley, who later helped her sister take care of their mother until she passed away a few months before her 94th birthday.
In addition to working for Home Instead, Sherley also has had church duties. She is a part of an outreach ministry to the community. “It really is a mission. We are getting ready for Thanksgiving Day food giveaways to people who need them,” Sherley said. “In years past, I was part of the children’s ministry. I’ve left that to the younger generation. I also sang in the choir.”
Home Instead affords scheduling flexibility to Sherley and all other Care Pros as they balance their work time and personal lives. “My job is very rewarding. I am glad I chose Home Instead. I’ve always loved the elderly, so this work suits me,” Sherley said.
“Home Instead’s staff communicates very well. Everyone is so genuine. They are friendly and compassionate. Two years ago, my older sister had a stroke. She and her daughter needed help. I asked for a leave of absence, and Home Instead accommodated me. They said, ‘Family comes first.’ I traveled to Mississippi, where I took care of her. I took a six-week leave of absence that ended when my sister passed away.”
Death. “That’s the hard part of caregiving, losing family and clients,” Sherley said. “As a caregiver, whether it is family or professionally, you see firsthand how seniors may suffer near life’s end. The first thing that comes to mind when they pass away is they are no longer suffering. They will be reunited with family and friends in eternity. As a person of faith, I look forward to it myself. I think I’ve lost all of my regular clients by death because I stay with them until the end. I assisted my first regular client for a year and a half. She died just before COVID-19 arrived.”
Sherley loves her job, but she also knows that eventually all good things will come to an end. “I’m telling myself that when I turn 73 next year, I might cut back or maybe retire. When I started with Home Instead, I had five years in mind, and 2023 would be it. If I am able, I may continue to work. I don’t like sitting at home. I don’t want to lose my mobility,” she said.
Sherley has three young grandchildren who live fairly close by, and she loves spending time with them. “I have 10 grandchildren overall. I love them all. The youngest three spend some weekends with me. When I am with them, I hear, ‘Grandma, are we having a sleepover?’ ” said Sherley, pointing to a 7-year-old grandson and 5-year-old twins, a boy and girl. “That is an awesome form of caregiving.”
All Home Instead Care Professionals are screened, trained and insured. For inquiries about employment, please call (504) 455-4911 or apply online.
Caregiver of the Month: LaToya H.
Before joining Home Instead® of Metairie more than a year ago, LaToya had enjoyed a successful child-care career. But she also was a dedicated family caregiver. Her compassionate heart for the young and old, and her auspicious entry into professional senior care have resulted in her Care Professional of the Month honor at the New Orleans-area Home Instead franchise.
Care Professional Development Coordinator Fay Kelting said: “We have so many wonderful Care Professionals, and LaToya has consistently stood out since she came aboard in June 2021. Her client loves her, and she truly deserves this award.”
“My years of family caregiving experience for my mother have prepared me well for this position at Home Instead. As a family caregiver, I took care of my mother who had a stroke. It was very hard and sad for me, but we made it. And I enjoy taking care of my mother,” said LaToya, who found owner Lisa Rabito’s Home Instead office on Indeed.com.
LaToya explained: “My work background always had been in professional child care. I had my own in-home day care, which I’m planning on rebuilding.” It’s not uncommon for child-care workers to make the move to senior care, a Home Instead staff member said. It’s also not uncommon for such workers to find fulfillment with in-home care situations.
LaToya said: “What I like most about my Home Instead Care Pro job is the bonds I have with my client and her family. I didn’t think it would be this amazing. It’s like we are a big family. My favorite story is how my client and family will sit down and tell me about her younger days and what she did for a living. The client and her family also have described how much fun she had back in the days and how the times have really changed in our society.”
For LaToya and her fellow Care Pros, 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. Fay pointed out that LaToya embodies Home Instead’s guiding principles of “Build Trust, Take the Lead and Share Your Heart.”
LaToya loves being a part of the Care Pro team for the award-winning franchise that serves the Orleans and Jefferson Parishes. The office is 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.
All Home Instead Care Professionals are screened, trained and insured. For inquiries about employment, please call (504) 455-4911 or apply online.
CAREGiver of the Month: Trachell
Home Instead Care Professional of the Month Trachell has her own yard stick for measuring success as a long-time employee for owner Lisa Rabito’s award-winning Home Instead® franchise that serves the Orleans and Jefferson Parishes.
“I love to see the smiles on my clients’ faces. That’s when I know I’m doing my job right. I simply enjoy bringing out the smiles,” said Trachell, who joined the New Orleans-area Home Instead in May 2014. Trachell knows that a senior’s life can be filled with pain – both physical and emotional – from the loss of independence and other challenges. Dementia can cause a darkness that results in a perpetual fog of confusion. Some seniors have outlived all of their family members, friends and neighbors, and a Care Pro’s friendly touch is especially vital in such situations. In fact, a Home Instead Care Pro’s companionship and empathy are valued sometimes as much as their senior-care skills.
In addition to her strong companionship skills, Trachell provides safety assurance, meal preparation, medication reminders, light housekeeping, and transportation and errands. Trachell offers personal assistance with eating, grooming, dressing, bathing, incontinence care, cognitive impairment, hospice support and mobility. By expertly doing so, Trachell and her fellow Care Pros not only assist their clients, but help their families eliminate worry, reduce stress and re-establish personal freedom.
To build on their knowledge and experience, Trachell and other Metairie 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.
Trachell’s skills and experience are unquestioned. In addition to her professional senior-care duties, she has served as an invaluable family caregiver. “I took care of my grandma, who died from cirrhosis of the liver,” Trachell said.
Home Instead Care Pro Development Coordinator Fay Kelting said: “Trachell has been with us for eight years. It is hard to believe she had not been honored as a Care Pro of the Month before now. She has consistently been an outstanding Care Pro, another one of those quiet, humble heroes who is always there for her clients. Trachell has years and years of experience and is such a joy with whom to work. We think the world of her!” Fay added: “Trachell embodies Home Instead’s guiding principles of ‘Build Trust, Take the Lead and Share Your Heart.’ She is someone who is exceptional at her work with any client.”
Trachell said: “I found out about Home Instead on Indeed.com during an online search.” She talked about her satisfaction with her position: “I take joy and pride of taking care of seniors. My favorite aspect of care is listening to clients’ stories. That is when I learn and gain knowledge from what my clients went through during their entire lives.”
All Home Instead Care Professionals are screened, trained and insured. For inquiries about employment, please call (504) 455-4911 or apply online.
CAREGiver of the Month: Ingrid
Senior-care specialists don’t see many rebounds. Sometimes, stabilizing or slowing a client’s decline is considered “a win.” Home Instead® Care Professional of the Month Ingrid participated in what could be considered a near miracle when her client regained nearly all of his mobility.
Ingrid explained the success story that unfolded as she worked with the client: “When I first came to his house, he was mostly immobile and in a post-medical procedure condition. I made it a point to spend more time with him and care for him as if he was my own family.” Fast-forward to August 2022, when Ingrid’s client was not only doing better physically, but is also very happy to have Ingrid as a Care Pro. Ingrid added: “He is now fully capable of walking on his own and has recovered most of his mobility. It’s instances like this that make this job so rewarding.”
Ingrid pointed out: “I have cared for many clients during my time at Home Instead of Metairie, which has been about 10 months. However, this is one client with whom I feel I have a very close connection.” While announcing Ingrid’s Care Pro of the Month honor, Care Professional Development Coordinator Fay Kelting said, “Ingrid has been there for her client in difficult times. She stepped up and took the lead. There is no doubt that Ingrid displays Home Instead’s guiding principles of ‘Build Trust, Take the Lead and Share Your Heart.’ ”
Ingrid was a private-duty caregiver for about five years before joining Home Instead on Nov. 8. 2021, so she was familiar with professional senior care. Ingrid explained: “I did want to make a change and work for a large company. I was looking for a fair level of pay, benefits and an overall favorable culture and work environment. I am pursing my CNA certification and overall enjoy working with seniors and others who are in need. Before I was in caregiving, I worked in various construction foreman positions at major chemical plants in the area.”
Caregiving was engrained in Ingrid’s heart long ago, and it seems fitting that she is working for owner Lisa Rabito’s franchise. “My grandma showed me at a young age how to care for everyone, no matter what age, race or other characteristics. I learned from a young age that everyone needs to be cared for,” Ingrid said.
“I like working with people, in particular working with the elderly. I like the fact I cannot only care for them but have a personal connection with them. I like to make them feel as if they are being cared for, not only physically, but also on a personal level. I’m also looking to grow within Home Instead, educate new Care Professionals and pass on my passion for client care.”
Ingrid loves being a part of the Care Pro team for the Metairie franchise that serves the Orleans and Jefferson Parishes, 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 Pro across 13 countries, meeting the growing needs of millions of older adults and their families worldwide.
CAREGiver of the Month: Abigail
Table volleyball isn’t an Olympic sport, but one Home Instead® client participated in the game with her sister as if it were. Home Instead Care Professional of the Month Abigail served as an organizer/rules maker/referee/cheerleader after showing sisters how to play. In addition to companionship, the fun activity strengthened client-Care Pro bonds.
“Using a colorful balloon, I introduced the sister clients to table volleyball. The eldest sister would burst into laughter every time the balloon would hit her sister’s face. At one point, that same sister had complained about our Care Pro presence. Over time, the younger sister’s response was, ‘I still don’t know about you, but I need and welcome the help.’ I have so many stories to tell, and this is one that was special,” said Abigail, who joined Home Instead of Metairie in November 2013.
“Another story was making a client’s day when he had a surprise trip to the office to visit a former Care Pro. I could tell he was a little depressed about her leaving because his conversations led back to her. So, with office permission, they met up again, and both parties were surprised and very happy to see each other.”
When asked what she enjoys most about her job, Abigail said: “There are many things to like, but my favorite thing is putting a surprising smile and a brightness in the life of a client. I can’t say I do that for all of my clients, but I try with a little honey, engaging eyes and a show of confidence. That ‘formula’ has gotten better with each client who I encounter.”
While announcing Abigail’s Care Pro of the Month honor, Care Professional Development Coordinator Fay Kelting said, “Abigail will be celebrating eight years with our company this year. She is consistently reliable, and she is such a wonderful person. She is spirit-filled, and you can definitely feel her when she is in the office. She is also an entrepreneur.”
Abigail is a humble person who appreciated her award, but she also pointed out, “I’ve always worked quietly in the background.” Abigail noted that she learned of Home Instead by word of mouth. “I was searching for a part-time job that would help supplement my primary income and work around it,” she recalled.
Her family, friends and acquaintances appreciate Abigail’s honest, straightforward way of expressing herself while also displaying a servant’s compassionate heart. Explaining how she settled into professional senior care, Abigail said: “Although I had to come to the conclusion of working overnight, the position did resolve my scheduling dilemma. However, there were some fears I had to overcome. One was working at lesser rate of pay. Others were being able to maintain a conversation with a senior of another race, speaking loudly and not becoming boring. As the years rolled by, I learned how to observe closely without encroaching on the clients’ space, anticipating their needs, discerning their likes and dislikes and providing an introduction to things that maybe they were missing through electronics.”
Abigail also has found time to serve as a family caregiver in addition to holding her jobs. “I worked with the State of Louisiana for 18 years. Immediately after that, I learned quickly that I was needed as a caregiver. My eldest daughter in Texas was having her last baby and needed me. My mother-in-law lived with us briefly, and I cared for her. My sister-in-law needed someone whom she could trust to care for her mother. A close friend needed an advocate in every aspect of her life, including medical, legal and personal. Prior to helping all of those people, I cared for my mother who had wanted to give up. She’s 80 now and living a beautifully health life,” Abigail said.
Abigail is a part of the Care Pro team for the New Orleans-area franchise that is 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.
CAREGiver of the Month: Brandy
Brandy’s legacy no doubt will shine brightly among Home Instead® staff members, as well as her clients and their families for many years to come. Before Brandy left to pursue a new career after nine shining years with Home Instead, she was honored as a Care Professional of the Month by owner Lisa Rabito’s award-winning Metairie franchise that serves the Orleans and Jefferson Parishes. The stories of Brandy’s compassionate care are many.
The Home Instead staff will never forget a three-week period when Brandy refused to give up on a challenging client. Brandy had been assigned to the client at a care community, where she went four days a week for three weeks. When Brandy first arrived, the client wanted nothing to do with her. During the second week, Brandy noticed the client had not received a bath since she’d been there, so Brandy asked a facility physical therapist to help her get the client into the shower.
Brandy recalled: “I assisted him with bathing, put lotion on him, including his feet, and dressed him. Then I got him back to bed. Before that, he didn’t want to know my name or anything about me. But after the shower and lotioning, he addressed me for the first time. He said, ‘Thank you. What is your name?’ It was something else, quite a 180-degree pivot, because the client asked for me every day after that. There is nothing like providing a little tender loving care, which goes a long way toward winning over someone.”
Home Instead Care Pro Development Coordinator Fay Kelting said, “Brandy joined us April 15, 2013, and recently left us, but we honored her for her nine years of service to Home Instead. She is also a hairdresser and now an entrepreneur. Her Home Instead clients absolutely loved Brandy, and her kind spirit was always felt by everyone when Brandy came to our office. We hated to see her go, but she is off to a new adventure in life. We wish her well.”
Open Brandy’s huge heart, and you’ll see an unlimited reservoir of compassion and empathy for vulnerable seniors. “I have always cared for the elderly no matter who they were, including my grandparents until they passed away. I also cared for my best friend’s mother who passed away two years ago after being diagnosed with cancer. In general, I have always had a passion for caring for others,” said Brandy, who found Home Instead through commercials and social media.
“Regarding my professional background before I came to Home Instead, I worked for Ochsner Foundation on Jefferson Highway for 13 years as a medical assistant and phlebotomist. As I mentioned, I was honored to take care of grandparents for years until they passed away.”
Brandy added: “The favorite part about my job was doing activities with my clients as well as allowing them to reminisce about their past. I also enjoyed going out for lunch and running errands with the clients.”
Fay said Brandy displayed Home Instead’s guiding principles of “Build Trust, Take the Lead and Share Your Heart.” Brandy loved being a part of the Care Pro team for the New Orleans-area 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 Pro across 13 countries, meeting the growing needs of millions of older adults and their families worldwide.
CAREGiver of the Month: Cynthia
In a couple of terrifying, mind-numbing minutes, everything was gone. On the night of March 22, 2022, Home Instead® Care Professional Cynthia’s property and all of her personal possessions were destroyed by New Orleans’ strongest tornado on record. With winds of 160 miles per hour, the tornado completely razed 41 buildings and homes, and 92 structures required significant repair, according to one news report.
“I was in the house to witness this unbelievable wrath of Mother Nature. By the grace of God and the protective wings of my guardian angel, my life was saved,” said Cynthia, who works for Home Instead of Metairie, owner Lisa Rabito’s award-winning franchise that serves the Orleans and Jefferson Parishes. Cynthia’s home was among those in the 11.5-mile tornado path.
“One of the things I like about working at Home Instead is the compassion and support for the employees. Once Lisa and the Home Instead staff heard about my tragedy, they were there morally, spiritually and financially to support me. That was another blessing from our Heavenly Father to be part of a caring group of people. My deepest gratitude goes to all of them for their support in my hour of need!”
Ironically, the Home Instead staff had chosen Cynthia as its Care Pro of the Month for April, but the office waited for three months to formally honor Cynthia as she was trying to recover from the horrifying tornadic event that resulted in one death and damage to 300 total buildings.
Care Professional Development Coordinator Fay Kelting said: “Miss Cynthia was to be awarded this title in April, but the tornado changed everything as far as honoring her properly. We had to wait to present this honor until she came back just recently. Miss Cynthia is a wonderful, kind and caring person and Care Pro, and she has been nothing short of amazing while dealing with the tornado’s destruction.”
The tornado wasn’t the first major challenge that Cynthia has faced. “As a family caregiver, I provided care for my elderly husband. He was a Vietnam veteran who suffered from PTSD, Agent Orange, diabetes and other health complications. He passed away in 2014 from congestive heart failure,” Cynthia explained.
Detailing the steps leading up to her initial contact with Home Instead, Cynthia said: “After retiring and after the death of my husband, I was in need of filling my spare time with a fulfilling endeavor. So, I decided on a part-time job. As I searched an internet job website, I found Home Instead. Because of Home Instead’s history and mission, I knew it was the right place for me to be a part of a caring family.”
Cynthia joined Home Instead in April 2017 and worked there until June 2018. She returned two years later, in June 2020, and has continuously served as a Care Professional since then. “My profession has always been caring for others whether it be children or the elderly. Before retiring, I worked for a not-for-profit retirement-living organization for more than 15 years. The care community included a skilled nursing facility. There I worked my way up to marketing the skilled nursing facility,” Cynthia said.
Home Instead has been a good fit for Cynthia. “What I like about my job with Home Instead is that I get the chance to comfort and care for other people. It has an effect on me, knowing that my job enriches the lives of my clients and their families,” she said. “My favorite story about one client is that we share travel stories about places we both have visited and have seen. We chatter about various matters, not to mention we enjoy ‘gossiping.’ Ha! She is beautiful!”
All Home Instead CAREGivers are screened, trained, bonded and insured. For inquiries about employment, please call (504) 455-4911 or apply online.
CAREGiver of the Month: Jessica
First, the darkness. Then, usually, a silver lining slowly appears. Nearly every Home Instead® Care Professional has experienced the feeling, the loss of a client, and Care Pro of the Month Jessica recently navigated that difficult emotional process.
“The client and I spent the weekends together watching movies, reminiscing about his business ventures, navigating new electronics and exploring his favorite New Orleans restaurants,” Jessica explained.
“His passing was a huge loss, but it opened my eyes to see what a positive impact caregiving has. Many clients become more like extended family members and will always hold a special place in my heart.”
Jessica added: “What I enjoy most about being a Home Instead Care Pro is the opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of my clients and their families’ lives. I also seek to inspire hope for a better tomorrow and to foster a comfortable quality of life.”
Jessica’s senior-care duties started long before Sept. 28, 2020, when she joined Home Instead of Metairie, owner Lisa Rabito’s award-winning franchise that serves the Orleans and Jefferson Parishes. Jessica’s grandmother raised her and her two sisters in the Los Angeles area. Their grandmother became ill while Jessica was attending Xavier University of Louisiana during her freshman year in 2005, when Hurricane Katrina battered the New Orleans area. So, Jessica knew what she had to do – she became a family caregiver.
“That’s when I returned home in California to care for my grandmother. Spending quality time with her and caring for her daily needs later helped in the healing process of her passing. I’ve always had a special bond with my grandmother, and I admire the wisdom and life experiences from seniors,” Jessica said.
Later, Jessica worked at Ochsner Health in the New Orleans area for 10 years in non-clinical roles including billing, customer service, transplant coordinator and other responsibilities. “I also had the pleasure of working with patients one-on-one in a hospital setting as a patient care coordinator,” Jessica explained.
So with that work experience with patients in the hospital setting at Ochsner Health as well as caring for clients in their homes, Jessica’s interest in Home Instead was piqued when she saw an employment opportunity on Indeed.com. About a year and a half after joining Home Instead, Care Professional Development Coordinator Fay Kelting announced that Jessica had been honored as the franchise’s Care Pro of the Month.
Fay said: “Jessica is such a sweet-natured and spirited young lady. She has genuinely been such a warm and loving person to her clients. Our schedulers love Jessica because she is so open and willing to fulfill whatever they have asked of her. She has made a big impact, so we wanted to honor her.”
Jessica embodies Home Instead’s guiding principles of “Build Trust, Take the Lead and Share Your Heart.” She is exceptional at her work with any client. Jessica loves being a part of the Care Pro team for the New Orleans-area franchise, a member of the highly successful Honor and Home Instead network. Honor is the world’s largest home care network with the most advanced care platform, revolutionizing how society cares for older adults, their families and Care Professionals. Honor acquired Home Instead in 2021, and the combined company supports the work of more than 100,000 Care Professionals across 13 countries and meets the growing needs of millions of older adults and their families worldwide.
All Home Instead CAREGivers are screened, trained, bonded and insured. For inquiries about employment, please call (504) 455-4911 or apply online.
CAREGiver of the Month: Anastasiya
Anastasiya arrived at Home Instead® of Metairie on April 5, 2021, with a uniquely international background and was honored as CAREGiver of the Month in 10 months’ time. The native of Tashkent, Uzbekistan, said: “I like the fact that this job gives me purpose, meaning and moral satisfaction.”
CAREGiver Development Coordinator Fay Kelting said: “In the time Anastasiya has been with us, she has proved to be one of our shining stars. She speaks several languages and has a very interesting background. Her story about the twists and turns in her journey to Home Instead is most intriguing. I knew in training that she was going to be one of our many CAREGivers who stand out and go above and beyond for the clients.”
Anastasiya explained her thought process behind joining the New Orleans-area Home Instead franchise, a member of a network that is the world’s leading provider of in-home care services for older adults. The Home Instead network consists of more than 1,200 independently owned franchises in the United States and 13 other countries.
“After having so many different careers, one day I caught myself thinking that I want to do something really meaningful. I want to help people any way I can. So, giving care to the elderly seems like a great idea to me,” said Anastasiya, who learned about Home Instead from a friend who joined the company before she did. Anastasiya previously hadn’t worked for an in-home care company but had worked at a care community from August 2020 to March 2021.
A look at Anastasiya’s work career reveals a truly diverse set of credentials:
- “I worked for five years as a radio journalist back in my homeland of Uzbekistan.”
- “After that, I worked for a few years in United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and United Nations Security Coordination Office (UNSECOORD).”
- “In 2006, I left Uzbekistan for Dubai in United Arab Emirates to try new work opportunities. I had quite a few interesting jobs during my 11 years there.”
- “In 2017, I came to America to marry my dear husband Jamie. I’ve concentrated on helping the elderly for the past 19 months.”
Comparing her two senior-care jobs, including her current job with owner Lisa Rabito’s award-winning Home Instead franchise, Anastasiya said: “I wasn’t happy at the care community. To me, it doesn’t seem as if the concept of taking care of several residents or more at the same time works very well. I’m a huge fan of the Home Instead approach where you give care to only one person at a time. This way, a CAREGiver is able to connect with clients on all possible levels – emotional, mental, physical and more – and provides 100 percent of what is expected.”
Anastasiya has not served as a family caregiver yet, but she thinks that day possibly will come. “Unfortunately, I didn’t have a chance to take care of my grandmother and my father before they passed away. However, I wanted to learn how to do it ahead of time to be ready for my other parents who are still alive. That was another reason for me to become a CAREGiver,” Anastasiya said.
Fay noted that Anastasiya embodies Home Instead’s guiding principles of “Build Trust, Take the Lead and Share Your Heart.” Anastasiya said, “The idea that I can be with someone who is lonely, so they don’t feel lonely, is amazing. Yes, I can’t help everyone, but I can help someone. That’s all that matters.”
Anastasiya added: “All of my clients have unique stories, so it’s difficult to choose one single memorable day. But what I like the most is that once I start working with a client and after we get to know each other better, I can see how they are getting better. Their mood is better, sometimes their health is getting better – if that a person is not terminally ill – and there are more smiles on their faces.”
All Home Instead CAREGivers are screened, trained, bonded and insured. For inquiries about employment, please call (504) 455-4911 or apply online.
CAREGiver of the Month: Chavah
Many times in successful senior care, attitude is everything. Chavah is a CAREGiver of the Month for Home Instead® of Metairie, Louisiana, because she has an award-winning attitude that always fills a room with a glowing, positive vibe.
CAREGiver Development Coordinator Fay Kelting said: “Chavah has such a beautiful personality and always has a big smile on her face. I know the clients just love her joyful spirit and caring heart!”
On Feb. 18. 2018, Chavah joined owner Lisa Rabito’s Home Instead franchise that serves the Orleans and Jefferson Parishes. Chavah has blended well with Home Instead’s highly touted CAREGiver crew. Winning a CAREGiver of the Month honor isn’t easy. Among the considerations for achieving CAREGiver of the Month status, an employee has shown he or she has gone above and beyond the call of duty, Fay pointed out. Empathy and compassion are taken into account for the award, as well as skill and wisdom for dealing with challenging situations. Chavah embodies Home Instead’s guiding principles of “Build Trust, Take the Lead and Share Your Heart.” Chavah is someone who is exceptional with any client, Fay emphasized.
In addition to her strong companionship skills, Chavah provides safety assurance, meal preparation, medication reminders, light housekeeping, and transportation and errands. Chavah offers personal assistance with eating, grooming, dressing, bathing, incontinence care, cognitive impairment, hospice support and mobility assistance. By expertly doing so, Chavah and her fellow CAREGivers not only assist their clients, but help their families eliminate worry, reduce stress and re-establish personal freedom.
To build on their knowledge and experience, Chavah and other Metairie 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.
Focusing on Home Instead’s training, processes and procedures of successful caregiving helped Chavah achieve the CAREGiver of the Month award.
Chavah loves being a part of the CAREGiver team for Lisa’s Metairie franchise, a member of a highly successful network founded in 1994 in Omaha, Nebraska. The Home Instead network is the world’s leading provider of in-home care services for older adults, with more than 1,200 independently owned and operated franchises that provide care throughout the United States and 13 other countries.
Chavah 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. She also strongly agrees with Home Instead’s core values: “Honor God in all we do; Treat each other with dignity and respect; Encourage growth in ourselves and others; Build value in our service to others.”
CAREGiver of the Month: Onetia S.
Home Instead® CAREGiver of the Month Onetia and her client were separated days before Category 4 Hurricane Ida made its Louisiana landfall Aug. 29, bringing maximum sustained winds of 150 mph and knocking out power to nearly all of the New Orleans area. By the time the catastrophic storm rocked the Crescent City, Onetia was safely in Alabama, and her client and several family members had evacuated to East Texas.
The client, who has dementia and struggles sometimes to remember Onetia’s name, felt a profound sense of loss without Onetia’s presence and was vocal about it. She asked her family members, “Is Onetia mad at me? Why isn’t she here with me? Why can’t I stay with Onetia all the time?” The client was so persistent that her son found Onetia’s phone number and called.
“Her son put my client on his phone two or three times during the three or so weeks we were apart because she missed me and thought she might not see me again. She wanted to hear my voice, so I talked to her. In some ways, it was amazing that despite her dementia, she had remembered me and missed me. I had to reassure her that we’d be together again,” said Onetia, who has been a CAREGiver for Home Instead of Metairie since Feb. 3, 2020, and routinely assists the client on each weekday.
The client’s son told Onetia, “You know how to treat people well. My mother is so attached to you.” Onetia replied, “I love your mom. I think of her all the time.” During regular shifts at the client’s home before Hurricane Ida, Onetia would tell her client if she couldn’t be there on a weekday, and Onetia would mark that day on her calendar. “That was OK, not a problem. But when she didn’t see me for a while, she was worried,” Onetia said.
Hurricane Ida caused an estimated $95 billion in damages throughout Louisiana. More than 900,000 people in the state were without power for two weeks because of widespread transmission damage. “It was almost the end of September when we returned. We tried to synch up our return with the client and her family. Her house was not in as good a shape as mine. There was damage to the roof over her bedroom, so we had to move her to another bedroom, and that threw her off a little. She was excited when we reunited. She is such a sweet lady,” Onetia said.
The client and her family weren’t the only ones who longed to see Onetia again. Fay Kelting, CAREGiver development coordinator for owner Lisa Rabito’s award-winning Home Instead franchise that serves the Orleans and Jefferson Parishes, also was thrilled – as was the rest of the office staff. Fay said, “In the year and a half Onetia has been with us, she has shown what being a Home Instead CAREGiver is all about. Her client feels she has a wonderful CAREGiver who visits her five days a week. Onetia has that caregiving magic.”
Onetia has possessed her “caregiving magic,” which is comprised of equal parts of compassion and skill, for a long time. She was a babysitter as a teenager in her native New York City. “During my college years, I was working in private-duty caregiving part time. I continued to work as a private-duty caregiver because people recommended me to others,” Onetia said. “I also continued as a private-duty caregiver while my husband was in the military. There was a lot of moving because that’s the military’s way. If my husband was stationed somewhere where we could not go, I’d go back home to New York City.”
Family caregiving for senior loved ones commenced nearly 20 years ago when Onetia went to Selma, Alabama, to take care of her grandmother, who died in 2005. Then Onetia took care of her parents. “That’s when I got a lot of medical experience and learned more,” Onetia explained. “I took care of my mother for two years, when I learned how to use a Hoyer lift. She died in 2018. With dad, I learned about feeding tubes. Dad was on dialysis, and I was surprised he lived as long as he did. There was lots of medical and personal care.”
Onetia added: “I was glad to be able to help my parents. They were married for more than 50 years. Mom was 82, and Dad was 79 – he passed away after she did. Mom felt she was a burden, but it was a privilege to help her and Dad.”
Onetia’s clients feel like family, and Onetia has seen a wide range of challenges. In addition to her dementia, Onetia’s current client is a fall risk. The client experienced several falls before Onetia arrived for shifts, and one resulted in an ambulance trip to get checked out at a hospital. “She has 24/7 care now,” Onetia said, “so we’ve seen far fewer problems. She is just so sweet.”
Onetia envisions herself working for Home Instead until retirement. “This is something I enjoy. Communication is good with the office, and the matches are good. There’s a lot to like.”
CAREGiver of the Month: Stephanie B.
In a sad-but-inevitable turn of events about four years ago, private-duty caregiver Stephanie’s elderly client died. Stephanie, a highly regarded private-duty caregiver, no longer wanted to “go it alone” in the senior-care world. “After my client passed away, I was looking to work for a company rather than continue as a private-duty caregiver,” Stephanie recalled.
Home Instead® of Metairie, owner Lisa Rabito’s award-winning franchise that serves the Orleans and Jefferson Parishes, came into focus for Stephanie. “I was referred to Home Instead by a friend who worked with the company,” said Stephanie, who has been employed by Home Instead for almost four years.
When Stephanie came aboard Home Instead, the franchise was getting an experienced and highly successful professional caregiver who has served in many different capacities over the years. “I initially earned my Certified Nursing Assistant license in 1980 and have worked as a private-duty caregiver at various hospitals, including serving at Methodist Hospital for 21 years in several departments,” Stephanie explained. “As a family caregiver, I have helped my mother care for my great-aunt and my father, who had extended illnesses.”
CAREGiver Development Coordinator Fay Kelting said: “We are really happy to have had Stephanie on our CAREGiver team for a while now. She is quiet but takes her job very seriously. She has such a warm personality and is a joy to be around. We are proud to have honored her as our CAREGiver of the Month for September, and she is a very worthy honoree.”
Among the considerations for achieving CAREGiver of the Month status, an employee must show he or she has gone above and beyond the call of duty when circumstances clearly required it. Empathy and compassion are taken into account for the award, as well as skill and wisdom for dealing with challenging situations. Stephanie embodies Home Instead’s guiding principles of ‘Build Trust, Take the Lead and Share Your Heart.’ Sometimes her performance seems to “fly under the radar,” but Stephanie is someone who is exceptional at her work with any client.
For Stephanie 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.
Stephanie said: “I like the fact that my job is emotionally rewarding, and I have a chance to help people and impact their lives in a positive way. All of my clients are special, but my favorite is an older gentleman who loves telling stories, especially about his barber-shop business and the interesting characters he met over the years. He also keeps me entertained with stories about his precious great-granddaughter.”
Stephanie 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 and core values. Those core values are: “Honor God in all we do; Treat each other with dignity and respect; Encourage growth in ourselves and others; Build value in our service to others.”
CAREGiver of the Month: Sedeana H.
It is easy to see why Sedeana is CAREGiver of the Month for Home Instead Senior Care® of Metairie. She radiates a warm, positive attitude that resonates with clients. "She's just an all-around great CAREGiver," CAREGiver Development Specialist Fay Kelting said.
Sedeana paints a word picture while describing her perpetually optimistic outlook: "I don't want to live downstairs – I want to spend all of my time upstairs where the sun shines brightest." She added, "At 51, I have a solid perspective of life, and I don't dwell on negatives. I take everything as it comes and live the best life I can." Sedeana's pithy observations provide an insight to a unique life well lived and why clients and their families embrace her:
"In addition to being a CAREGiver, I work in private security. I always have had two jobs. That way, I never get old. I just get better. Even at home, life is nonstop."
"I will never be rich monetarily, and knowing that, I am doing something I love."
"Before Hurricane Katrina in 2005, I had a job I hated. I told myself: 'Never again will I stay with a job I hate. Life is too short. You've got to live your life to the fullest and treat people to the best of your ability. I smile when a client says, 'You're the one I want.' "
"I have patience with all clients. I told one client it is OK to be 'down.' As a CAREGiver who always reaches out to help, I ask only that the client also try to pull himself up emotionally if it is possible. It is a joint effort. Together, we can make a better day."
"I don't host pity parties. I believe in optimism, humor and fun. I had enough of the understandable pity parties when I went through Katrina. Since then, I no longer sweat the small stuff. And I celebrate every little triumph such as seeing a client up and moving on a walker for the first time in five months, watching him stretch that 6-foot frame."
Just six weeks ago – nearly 11 years after Hurricane Katrina – Sedeana finally moved back into her home. Staying behind during the 2005 megastorm, Sedeana was plucked off a rooftop and arrived in Charleston, South Carolina, about 10 days later. She remained for three years there before returning in June 2008. "It is true what they say about New Orleans always being your home in your heart," said Sedeana, who worked with the developmentally handicapped in South Carolina.
Before Katrina, Sedeana worked for nearly 23 years at jobs that helped many different groups of people, including seniors. She earned her CNA license in 1996, and Sedeana also graduated with a criminal justice degree from Southern University in 2011. She easily recalls when she was hired at Home Instead Senior Care in March 2014 after she saw a TV commercial.
"I was under the weather when I interviewed with Christian Rabito on a Tuesday. I was hired and went through orientation on a Thursday morning. They called me Thursday night and wondered if I wanted to take a challenging client the next day. I said, 'I will, and I will always give 100 percent.' I've done that with every job I've had," Sedeana said.
"I've had my share of hard, stressful jobs over the years. Working for Home Instead Senior Care is what I want, where it is one-on-one assistance and helping someone who wants to remain in his home. The hard part is watching the decline in the clients' health and the deaths. I never forget my former clients. They were never, ever a paycheck to me. They were friends."
CAREGiver of the Month: Diane B.
It has been nearly three years since Diane was first honored as CAREGiver of the Month for Home Instead Senior Care® of Metairie.
Diane has had two regular clients since that time, and she has the same all-in enthusiasm for her job that she had when she joined Home Instead Senior Care April 2, 2012, after a 30-year career as a licensed practical nurse (LPN) who worked in hospitals and senior-care facilities.
CAREGiver Development Specialist Fay Kelting was short and sweet while sharing her superlative for Diane, saying: "She is just a great and dependable CAREGiver."
To Diane, it's personal.
"I believe in treating clients like they are my own family. For example, my father is 89 years old, which is the same age as both of my regular clients," Diane said. "In addition, my faith plays a role in how I approach my job. I am a Christian, and I love one of our company's core values 'to honor God in all that we do.' "
Asked what she likes most about her job, Diane said: "I worked as an LPN for a good while and when I was ready for a change from the nursing-home job environment, Home Instead Senior Care valued my experience and gave me the opportunity to work one-on-one with seniors and help them stay in their homes and maintain their independence. I really love the fact that Home Instead Senior Care matches clients with the right CAREGiver and vice versa."
Describing her work, Diane said: "I have one male client for whom I cook, drive to doctors' appointments and provide light housekeeping. I also work to ensure his safety for ambulation and provide companionship. I have a female client whose eyesight has been adversely affected by macular degeneration, and she also uses with a walker. She loves to be on the go, so I drive her everywhere, including trips to the grocery store, the bank, doctor's appointments and visits with friends."
Diane added: "I recently took a Home Instead class about diseases of the elderly. It was very informative about what happens to our body as we age. I look forward to taking a cooking class that is in the planning stages. The continuing education is a plus."
When describing the award-winning franchise where Lisa Rabito is the owner, the Kenner resident sees positives all the way around.
CAREGiver of the Month : Vanessa P.
CAREGiver of the Month Vanessa jumped into action when a 93-year-old client abruptly decided to leave the house one day, something she had never done before.
"She must have awoken during some kind of strange, life-like dream," Vanessa said, "because as she went to the door dressed strangely, she told me, 'I have to go home.' It was a first for this."
Vanessa calmly told her client in a low tone, "but honey, you are home." As the client insisted she needed to walk to a long-ago home on Fig Street, about a 40-minute car drive away, Vanessa blocked the door, thought quickly and said, "But your sister is here. You don't want to leave your dear sister, do you?" As she stopped, Vanessa gently guided the client to her sister's bedroom. The award-winning CAREGiver for Home Instead Senior Care® of Metairie had won.
Vanessa, a member of a 24/7 CAREGiver team that assists the two sisters, took the initiative to prevent a possible repeat by calling the sisters' power of attorney, who acted quickly and installed high door locks to ensure the clients' safety. "They are really good clients who are really sweet, and this happened only once. But I am glad I was there when she tried to leave, and I am glad her sister was resting. If she had gotten outside while a CAREGiver was helping her 92-year-old sister, it might have turned into a difficult situation."
CAREGiver Development Specialist Fay Kelting said Vanessa's quick thinking and follow-up with the client are examples of her poise and wisdom. "From the get-go in the nine months since she has started," Fay said, "Vanessa has been an exceptional CAREGiver. She is so willing to help her clients and goes to great lengths to do whatever it takes – you name it. She is exceptionally reliable and dependable, and has sweet personality."
Vanessa, who helps her mother and her autistic brother, loves working with seniors, and she has been helping people "for a long time." "Helping people is in my heart. I previously owned a personal-care agency and also later worked with the mentally challenged, and I loved working with them," Vanessa said. "Clients are like family to me. I find myself worrying about them when I am home, but I know they are in good hands. At the end of the day, they are 93 and 92, and my concern for them is always there. I have called them on my day off for a grocery list. When I am shopping on my own time, I find myself picking out some articles of clothing that I know they need. It is in my heart."
CAREGiver of the Month: Godwin O.
If Godwin's interaction with his clients is any predictor of his future bedside manner when he becomes a cardiologist, the CAREGiver of the Month will be a highly sought-after doctor wherever he practices medicine.
"Godwin is a remarkable young man," said Fay Kelting, CAREGiver development specialist for Home Instead Senior Care® of Metairie. "The clients are so appreciative of him, and he is a great CAREGiver who is requested often. He is an awesome and very inspiring person."
Godwin, who joined owner Lisa Rabito's franchise in Aug. 8, 2014, after an online job search, is pursuing a position in medical residency. "I eventually will leave Home Instead Senior Care to pursue my dream of being a cardiologist. When that day comes, I will miss the people at Home Instead Senior Care and the clients."
In the meantime, Godwin is enjoying himself as an in-home senior-care specialist who delights in finding unique ways to assist his clients, even those who have been a challenge. "I am a Christian and hold dearly to the biblical injunction to care for the sick, the weak and the less fortunate among us. It is from this perspective I do my job as a CAREGiver," Godwin said.
"I like to connect with my clients on a more personal level. I try to understand their unique situations and tailor my care and interactions to suit their particular situations. One client has been more challenging for others to help, but I have been able to connect with him on a deeper level and have been able to help him."
One of Godwin's clients was confined to his bed after a workplace accident rendered him paralyzed. "At the time I met him," Godwin explained, "he seemed depressed, and I felt quite concerned for him. Over the course of several weekends while working with him, he started cheering up and looking forward to life again. I was able to connect with him by going well above and beyond what others had done for him. With my background, I could understand his situation and react in the best ways possible in accordance to our parameters as CAREGivers."
There is no doubt, Godwin said, that working for Home Instead Senior Care has been fulfilling. "This position gives me an opportunity to work with seniors and the vulnerable populations.
The staff and people at Home Instead Senior Care are some of the most wonderful people I have met in a job environment," Godwin said.
"The Home Instead office staff members sincerely care about their clients and co-workers, and provide the necessary training and support to help their CAREGivers do their jobs better. They have assisted me with a convenient schedule and even helped with transportation options. To repeat for emphasis, I'd like everyone to know Home Instead cares about their CAREGivers as much as they care about the clients. It is a wonderful work environment."
CAREgiver of the Month: Ernestine C.
A smiling CAREGiver of the Month Ernestine could not suppress her endearing chuckle when she heard that her client and the client’s daughter had hatched a plan involving all three in a move to Denver next summer. That’s what happens when a compassionate and highly skilled CAREGiver develops deep relationships – folks don’t want to lose them.
“The clients love Ernestine. She is a sweet person,” said Fay Kelting, CAREGiver development specialist for Home Instead Senior Care® of Metairie.
Ernestine’s specialness was never more evident than when she came alongside the 85-year-old client who had undergone back surgery Oct. 5, 2015. The client and her daughter are convinced Ernestine has played a huge role in the client’s continuing recovery. The progress is so striking that the daughter, a teacher, believes her mother will be ready for the Mile High move five or six months from now. They would love to have Ernestine to come along with them.
“Her daughter trusted me to be with her all three days she was in the hospital. She could not come back from Colorado. When my client came home, I would not let her stay in bed all the time. I had her up and moving, per her doctors’ and physical therapists’ recommendations. She is coming along and is doing great,” Ernestine said. “I am proud of her and happy to be a part of her bounce-back. It is gratifying to see her progress, and there will be even more, God willing.”
Ernestine refuses to take the credit, insisting that her client’s faith likely is the biggest reason. “My client and I pray together a lot because she likes me to do so,” Ernestine said. “I am a praying person, and I pray for my clients or anyone else I am taking care of.”
Ernestine’s faith has been tested repeatedly, not unlike the faith of Job of the Old Testament. She lost her daughter – and only child – to cancer in 1990, and Ernestine later took care of an aunt who died of cancer. Another big blow came in 2011, when Ernestine’s mother died six months after being diagnosed with cancer. “No one could take care of her like I could,” Ernestine said, “so that’s what I did.”
Explaining that her mother’s final months and passing were “gut-wrenching” and that she needed a change of scenery, Ernestine moved to Baton Rouge. That is where she learned about Home Instead Senior Care from a friend who was a CAREGiver. When Ernestine ended her successful two-year run as a CAREGiver and returned home to Kenner, she was given an open-ended invitation to come back, Baton Rouge Home Instead General Manager Sandy Hull said.
After Ernestine got settled in, she went to work for owner Lisa Rabito’s Metairie franchise July 25, 2013. “I love my job, and they are a great group of people,” Ernestine said. “All of my clients have been good people, so the office is great at matching CAREGivers and clients.”.
What about Colorado next summer? “Well,” Ernestine said, “that’s their plan, but we’ll have to see if it all comes together for my client and her daughter. It definitely would hurt to see her move away. When they started asking me, I put them off and told them I didn’t know.” That’s because Ernestine has found a home with Home Instead Senior Care in Metairie..
CAREGiver of the Month: Carolyn R.
CAREGiver of the Month Carolyn always has a song in her heart, and she uses those tunes to help her client while working for Home Instead Senior Care® of Metairie.
It is fitting for Carolyn and her client that one of their favorite songs is "Blessed Assurance," because that is what Carolyn embodies for the client, who has dementia. "She used to play the piano, so I brought my hymn book from home and we do singing and music exercises," Carolyn said. "Sometimes I intentionally mess up a stanza, and she helps me get in tune. It is a good way to help get her mind working, and she enjoys it.
"Our other favorite songs are classics such as "How Great Thou Art" and "Silent Night." My client's son also sometimes sings with us when he drops by to visit at the facility where my client lives. She remembers most of the words – it is great to see the effect that music has on her."
Carolyn's discovery of soothing songs has science behind it. According to experts, music can spark good outcomes even in the late stages of dementia. Music can shift mood, manage stress-induced agitation, stimulate positive interactions, facilitate cognitive function and coordinate motor movements. This happens, experts say, because rhythmic and other well-rehearsed responses require little to no cognitive or mental processing. They are influenced by a part of the brain that responds directly to auditory rhythmic cues.
The facility workers are drawn to the client's door after Carolyn arrives because they love to hear the singing and watch Carolyn's engaging, magnetic personality at work. "It makes me feel good to know she feels good, and I am pleased to have also won over the workers," Carolyn said.
CAREGiver Development Specialist Fay Kelting isn't surprised. "Carolyn is willing to go anywhere and work with any situation," Fay said. "She is extremely reliable. Carolyn always makes sure her clients are comfortable and all is well before she leaves her client. She works well under pressure and in a crisis, and she has a calming effect on her clients. Carolyn is a wonderful God-filled lady."
Home Instead Senior Care, Carolyn pointed out, has great flexibility with hours and strives hard to make great matches with clients and CAREGivers. Carolyn and her client have a strong faith-based bond. "We have a morning prayer when I come in before we sing," said Carolyn, whose favorite Bible passage is the 23rd Psalm. "It is important to me to live a Christian life and have a God-given patience for all seniors."
Carolyn felt a blessing in April 2013 when she applied at owner Lisa Rabito's franchise office. "I was working part time with a major retail chain store, and my manager was a part-time CAREGiver and recommended I apply at Home Instead," Carolyn said. "I am happy that I did because I feel good about it. I feel the future is good. Lisa is so nice, and it is an excellent office where they view everybody the same and treat us all well and are very welcoming."
CAREGiver of the Month: Annie R.
Hours after Annie offered her evening prayers and went to bed, God sent a stunningly powerful and vivid dream to the successful career businesswoman. Annie saw herself gritting her teeth and tightly clutching the front railing of her house with both hands as surging floodwater swept over her head while heavy rain pelted down and a horribly strong wind howled. As thousands of New Orleans residents later experienced, it was a scene straight out of hell.
Startled, Annie awoke at 4:20 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 28, 2005, and sprang into action. “I had sat out every other hurricane that hit New Orleans,” Annie said, “and I was going to do the same with this one. But God was sending me a message: ‘Don’t be stubborn and disobedient – get out of New Orleans now. Don’t take time to gather up all your possessions – just get your daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren, and leave.’ I called out to them and said, ‘We have to leave now.’ They know my strong faith in God and acted. We left my SUV and my daughter’s car, and got into my son-in-law’s Ford Expedition and left town. All I had was a little duffel bag of items.”
On Monday, Aug. 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina and its 125 mph winds hit New Orleans with the power of a nuclear explosion, and things haven’t been the same since. Eighty percent of New Orleans was submerged in water after many of the city’s levees breached. After the mayhem, the flood swamped her house in the Gentilly neighborhood, peaking at 9½ feet of water. Every family picture, piece of china, antique, irreplaceable personal effect – all of it was gone. But Annie and her family members safely escaped.
“Losing everything at home was mind-numbing, but it was only ‘stuff,’ ” Annie said, her voice rising to heavily emphasize the word “stuff.” “Others lost much more – their lives.” Three and a half years later, Annie returned to a new house and found a job with the Home Instead Senior Care® franchise that serves New Orleans and Jefferson Parish.
“God led me to this wonderful job. He knew I wanted badly to return to my home in New Orleans, and He provided new ‘things’ and a job that was pleasing to Him and me,” Annie said.
Working as a CAREGiver is nothing like what Annie was doing before Katrina hit and the subsequent years when she moved first to Houston and then to Dallas. In total, Annie worked for 12 years for a U.S.-based Fortune 500 financial corporation that specializes in credit cards, home loans, auto loans and banking and savings products. “I stepped away from that corporation, in effect retiring from that line of work, because I would have had to remain in Texas to keep my position,” Annie said. “I am from New Orleans and wanted to return. I still had my parents, and I wanted to come home to help them. They were more important to me than any well-paying job 500 miles away. There is no place like home.”
Annie said after she permanently returned from Texas, a family member recommended Home Instead Senior Care after hearing good things about the franchise in Metairie, owned by Lisa Rabito. Plainly and emphatically, Annie loves Home Instead Senior Care and what she does as a CAREGiver. In fact, she recently was honored as CAREGiver of the Month.
“I love it so much that I’ve often said I feel as though I was shortchanged in life and should have been helping out seniors and others much earlier in my working life instead of spending my time in finance and business,” Annie said. “Getting the chance to work with Home Instead Senior Care is such a gift. There is serious compassion going on with Home Instead CAREGivers and staff. I’ve got to tell you, the staff is awesome, just unbelievable.”
Annie lost her dad in 2012, but her mother is still going strong at age 90. “I help both my mother and my 96-year-old mother-in-law and fit Home Instead around that,” Annie said. “Compassion is in my family and in my blood, and is important to me. God has put this in me and empowered me to do this job.”
Annie’s favorite Bible verse is Matthew 6:33 (“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”), and she feels God’s hand in her caregiving. “I have not had one bad day since I started. As a Christian, I pray before each shift that I can help my client and love them,” she said.
Annie’s trademark is a hug, and any of her clients knows a big hug is coming at the start of each shift. “I am a hugger. With a hug and encouraging words,” Annie said, “the clients know there is sincerity and genuineness because they can feel it. It does something for them. My dad had dementia, and hugs calmed him.”
Beyond liberally giving out hugs, Annie noted that each client is different and receives whatever is necessary to remain safe and happy. “I deal with each situation as it comes,” said Annie, who has two regular clients and works between 30 and 36 each week. “Sometimes I am on the go too much, and I want to keep myself at my best for my mother, mother-in-law and clients. Home Instead really helps because it has been flexible.”
Annie’s mother-in-law tells her, “Annie sit down and visit a while. You are always working too hard.” Annie admits she’s always up for a good story or two. “I love hearing personal backgrounds and histories,” Annie said. “Stories get the clients to thinking and remembering – and that’s good. They also know I am interested in them and in who they are. One client was a retired bar pilot who had all kinds of stories; there were three generations of bar pilots in the family.”
Some clients tell Annie about their Katrina experiences. Because God revealed the horror and destruction of the coming hurricane to Annie before it even arrived, she refused to watch the television coverage. But looking back at Katrina while balancing those trying days against her subsequent time of renewal in New Orleans, Annie said: “God is good all the time, and all the time God is good. As long as God gives me strength and health, I will be staying with Home Instead.”
CAREGiver of the Month: Jannie H.
“I lift up my eyes to the mountains — where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.” — ¬Psalm 121:1-2
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.” — Proverbs 3:5-6
Award-winning CAREGiver Jannie is driven by the compulsion to do right. That’s how she explains her affinity for taking care of the elderly. To relates how she gets her strength, energy and resolve to deal with her challenges, Jannie points to her favorite Bible verses, Psalms 121:1-2 and Proverbs 3:5-6. The words, committed to memory, flow easily off her lips.
“Everything I do is tied to my faith,” said Jannie, a CAREGiver of the Month for the Home Instead Senior Care® franchise that serves New Orleans and Jefferson Parish. “I view my job as an assignment from the Lord, who trusts me to give Him the best I can give. I want to represent the Lord to the extent that people can see the glory of the Lord in my face,” she added.
“This is work I love to do, and I have been doing it for quite a while. The irony is that when I first considered senior care, I didn’t think I could do this. Then I got into it and found it to be a blessing. I remember thinking, ‘Wow, this is a rewarding job. You really are helping someone else.’ You are making them feel safe and secure, and I find they especially feel that way when I take their hand and comfort them. It is pretty simple – the clients want someone they can trust, someone who can help them and someone who can love them.”
Jannie’s days are always full. She works between nine and 10 hours each day from Monday through Friday with her 87-year-old male client and does fill-in shifts when they are needed. On four evenings a week, she and her husband go dancing. Wednesday nights and all of her Sundays are devoted to the Light City Church, pastored by Apostle Leonard Lucas and situated on Saint Claude Avenue between Tupelo Street and St. Maurice Avenue in the Lower Ninth Ward.
“I have to give a shout-out to Apostle Lucas and the rest of my dear Christian brothers and sisters at Light City Church for being so supportive and uplifting to not only my family and me,” Jannie said, “but to many, many others in the Lower Ninth Ward. One shining example was the help they provided to others in the Lower Ninth after Hurricane Katrina, when members and attendees broke into teams and did simply amazing things even though our own church was destroyed.”
There is another team in Jannie’s life – she is a part of a 24/7 team for her dementia client, and Jannie also serves as a mentor to other CAREGivers who work with the client. The client has insisted on having Jannie as a CAREGiver, saying “I need her. She is the one who knows how to do the job in caring for me.”
Jannie, who has been with the client for six months, shrugs off such talk and tells young CAREGivers, “Everything will be all right. The client can be very talkative, so just keep trying to engage him. You need to know certain things, a good number of nuances, so that he’s comfortable with you. Interacting with him in the way he wants is important.”
Jannie points out that her client “is a very smart man,” but he is afflicted by a dementia that affects him in various ways on different days. “I try to reassure and encourage him. Sometimes he thinks people are eating his food and taking things like his Kleenex tissues. You’ve got to understand him and know what to say when his behavior takes a turn for the worst. It is the dementia that is affecting him,” she added.
“I’ve had people ask me, ‘How do you do it? That’s got to be hard!’ Well, I don’t take the negative things to heart. The client doesn’t mean it, and he wouldn’t do it if he were 10 or 20 years younger. You just laugh those things off and talk with him and redirect him if needed. Mostly, the client just wants to get your attention and have a conversation.
“My client knows I like to go to church and spend a lot of time there. He tries to get my goat and teases me by telling me he’s an atheist. I always laugh and tell him, ‘I know Jesus loves you.’ He tells me, ‘My mom was like you because she went to church all the time.’ I just know God is going to do something great in his life, I pray by myself for that.”
Jannie has spread the word about Home Instead Senior Care. One sister, Lorraine, who recently moved back to The Big Easy from Washington, D.C., also works for the franchise as a CAREGiver, as does a niece. “My niece was excited one day when she came up to me and said, ‘Aunt Jannie, my clients love me. They don’t want me to leave after the shift.’ ”
Jannie credits her work as a CAREGiver with “giving her a glow” since she joined the franchise Jan. 21, 2014. “I have had people at church tell me, ‘You look so happy – what’s up?’ I told them about my job and where they can go to apply to be a CAREGiver because I am sure most of them would make great CAREGivers,” she said.
CAREGiver of the Year: Vera B.
The Vera Brooks stories are too numerous to be completely documented. Several of them – both funny and serious – about the CAREGiver of the Year are so rich that it’s too hard to resist retelling.
From Quality Relations Specialist Corie Savary:
“One of Vera’s regular clients, Ms. D, lives in an assisted living facility where another of our clients, Ms. G, lives. The clients are friends and eat lunch together every day. Vera had a fill-in shift with Ms. G, and she loved Vera so much that she wanted her to come more often. Ms. G even mentioned it to Ms. D, and they jokingly fought over Vera all the time after that. Ms. D would say Vera was her CAREGiver, and Ms. G would say Mrs. D needed to share Vera.”
Another story from Corie:
“Most of Vera’s clients have a form of dementia, and one of them does not want to bathe. Vera joyfully tries to get her to take a bath every day, knowing that she will get to bathe her at least two of the five tries during the week. Vera doesn’t let the other days discourage her.”
From Director of Quality Care Debe Kincl:
“Vera was leaving a client and noticed that she wasn’t herself, clearly dizzy and disorientated. Vera didn’t want to leave her, but had another client to visit. Vera alerted the client’s first contact and our office. Then before Vera left, she made sure the client had her alert system on and placed the phone next to her until the family could arrive. Vera also notified the assisted living facility’s front desk to make sure they would check on her. This is just one example of Vera going the extra mile for her client.”
Vera herself had a story worth noting:
“A client turned to me and quietly said, ‘I don’t understand why God sent you to help me, Vera. You’re so good to me, no matter how nasty I am.’ Without hesitation, I told the client, ‘God sends good people to help good people.’ I keep my clients’ behavior in perspective. I know when that client doesn’t feel good. I appreciated her apology. I told her, ‘No matter what happens, I will still be here for you and your husband.’ ”
Magnanimous. Compassionate. Forbearing. Forgiving. Those words – and many more – describe the outstanding CAREGiver at the Home Instead Senior Care® franchise in Metairie that serves New Orleans and Jefferson Parish. “Everyone who shares difficult moments also has a soft spot somewhere,” Vera said in a sympathetic tone. “I just work hard to find it. I take pride in being sent to handle the most difficult ones and trying to win them over.
“You can’t be offended at anything you hear. There’s a reason for it – they don’t feel well or are unhappy that they aren’t in the same condition they were in 20 or 30 years ago. I keep smiling and let the bad things roll off. After a while, their mood usually changes and they calm down.”
Franchise Owner Lisa Rabito confirmed that Vera has just the right touch. “Vera has an incredibly kind demeanor in any situation, even when challenging family members get involved with their senior loved ones’ care,” Lisa said. “She’ll do whatever it takes to make sure the clients are well taken care of – any kind of cleaning that’s necessary, even caring for the beloved family dog that is very old. And Vera does everything with a genuine smile on her face!”
When Quality Relations Specialist Corie was asked what set Vera apart from other CAREGivers, she said: “I have never seen Vera without a smile. She can be having a hard day with a client, and you would never know it. She always carries a sense of joy in everything she does. During multiple times with multiple families and clients, Vera has been called their ‘best-ever CAREGiver.’ ”
Corie also pointed out: “Vera juggles life’s day-to-day challenges of taking care of her family, going to her regular clients, and taking last-minute fill-in shifts. Vera has a very kind and gentle spirit. She exudes grace and compassion to everyone with whom she touches or sees.”
Of course, Vera isn’t always put in the position of having to “grin and bear it” with a client. One of her late clients called Vera “Goody.” Sadly for Vera, she wasn’t with the client when she passed away on a Saturday. When the client told her daughter that she “was ready to go,” she said she had hoped to tell Vera goodbye. But Vera wouldn’t have repeated “goodbye” if she had been there. “I would have told her, ‘I’ll see you later,’ ” said Vera, a woman of deep faith.
A 97-year-old client, an Air Force pilot for 26 years, regales Vera with his action-filled stories that include whiteouts and floods in Alaska. “He has told me several times, ‘If I had the money, I would send you on a cruise to Alaska.’ He’s a sharp guy,” she said. “Before I leave every day at 3, I make sure he and his wife have something hot to eat at 6.”
It is obvious that Vera is in high demand for any client who knows her. And it’s for more than light housekeeping, medication reminders, meal preparation, transportation and errands. Vera is “an intent listener” who provides the best of companionship.
“I like to get them to reminisce about their past days, days that hold more pleasant memories for them, because it tends to calm them down. They need an ear, someone to listen,” Vera explained. “If a client starts a conversation at 2:30 p.m. and is still talking when my shift ends at 3 p.m., I will clock out, but will stay until the client is completely done talking. Why interrupt them and then leave? I never stop them from talking, regardless of what time it is.”
She admits to having a passion for her job. “I love it. It makes my day to help someone,” said Vera, who joined Home Instead in August 2012.
She was working in private-duty care, commuting from New Orleans to Baton Rouge nearly every day for three years, when a friend who worked for Home Instead recommended the company.
“Vera is very reliable and loved by her clients. She has four regular clients, but she’s also very flexible in responding to our requests for fill-in shifts,” said Fay Kelting, the franchise’s CAREGiver development specialist.
The number of Vera’s extended family members grew exponentially when she joined Home Instead. She considers clients and staff to be her family.
“Home Instead is family. They have open hearts and open ears in the office. Anything I need, any problem I have, I know I can pick up the phone and call,” Vera said. “Whoever answers can help me or direct me to someone who can help me.
“The thing that makes me feel good is that people are starting to ask for me by name after I’ve filled in to help them once. I try to please everybody and go if I can when the office calls.”
In conclusion, Director of Quality Care Debe likes the fact that Vera’s personal motto matches the Home Instead Senior Care credo: “To Vera, it is personal. Vera knows her clients – good days and bad – and knows when a bad day calls for more than understanding.”
CAREGiver of the Month: Carlolice S.
CAREGiver of the Month Carlolice answered an urgent call as an overnight fill-in on a Friday evening, and the episode generated a heartwarming story that reflected the strong, faithful character of the Home Instead Senior Care® employee.
“Carlolice recently helped on a noteworthy Friday night by leaving one job and going straight to a client who needed someone at the last minute,” CAREGiver Development Specialist Fay Kelting said. “That is Carlolice. She is there at the drop of a hat and takes shifts on short notice.”
Carlolice was working at her regular three-hour night janitorial job that usually ends at 8 p.m., and the client needed her as soon as possible. “Let me talk to my supervisor and see what I can do,” texted Carlolice, who got the OK to leave a little earlier. “I’ll try my best.”
But there were unexpected problems: Carlolice, a New Orleans resident, had never been to the client’s home in an unfamiliar Metairie area, it was night and her cellular phone would not pull up the MapQuest application to get the directions to the address that was entered. Just as Carlolice began to worry she might have to call for another fill-in, she found the house.
“I am used to arriving early at a client’s house, so I was flustered. After I finally found it, I was fumbling with the house’s lock box because it was so dark,” Carlolice said. “Then I noticed a shadowy figure in the doorway. I did a double-take, and it was the client standing behind her walker. She said, ‘I’ve been waiting for you – please come in.’ I was relieved because she wasn’t mad or anxious.
“I explained to the client that I was not able to see the numbers on the lock box to get the key out. She said, ‘That is why there is a flashlight on the porch.’ I looked down, and there was the flashlight. I had been lost, and God came into the situation, helping me find the house, helping me to help the client and giving me the strength to pull an unexpected overnight shift with a very nice lady who I ended up helping in other visits.
“I didn’t leave the client’s house until 6 a.m. the next morning,” Carlolice said, “but I was OK because there was a calmness that came over me. I know it was God telling me it was OK and that His strength would be sufficient for me that night and the next morning.”
And it was. It’s not hard to detect Carlolice’s faith and her commitment to help others. Office staff members see it all the time in Carlolice’s work with the Home Instead Senior Care franchise in Metairie that serves New Orleans and Jefferson Parish.
“In less than a year since she has been with us, Carlolice certainly has been a CAREGiver who has continuously stood out,” Fay said. “Our folks in staffing can tell you exactly what makes her exceptional: She hardly ever says no to an offer for a shift and is willing to try many different clients. Her clients have remarked how wonderful, gracious and professional she is.”
Carlolice, who earned a master’s degree in social work at Southern University at New Orleans in 1997, joined Home Instead on June 10, 2014.
As a home manager in a social work job, she had worked with Alzheimer’s clients for about a year and a half. “In some ways,” she said, “that was like a CAREGiver job. I had a familiarity with working with those who have dementia. As far as other senior-care experience goes, I provided care for my mother during her illness about 3½ years ago, but I also arranged for services to help me care for her when I was not available.”
With Home Instead, Carlolice works as a fill-in for less than 20 hours a week because of her two other jobs, although she does receive a lot of the same clients’ call-backs as a fill-in. She takes overnight shifts when she can. “To some extent,” she said, “I can adjust hours for my counseling job and with Home Instead so both will work out. My early-evening job has fixed hours.
“My counseling job involves a mental health rehabilitation agency, and I provide counseling services to both children and adults who are diagnosed with a mental disability. I make home visits and school visits, and I meet them in the community to provide counseling services. There is a lot of case work involved. I am working with a lot of people who are bipolar, have depression and have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD),” she explained.
“When compared to the counseling challenges, I really like the calmness of my job as a CAREGiver with seniors. It feels fulfilling and is a nice break from the pace of my other jobs. I love the fact that when I talk to my clients, I can find out more history about New Orleans and this area. You get the inside scoop on things, and I like that. Generally, even with dementia, there is a spark where the long-term memories are and you can have a lot of conversation. The companionship aspect for both CAREGiver and client is good.”
Carlolice said her senior-care philosophy is simple: “Whatever I have done in my own situations to help my family – a grandparent, my mother, my son, just whoever it is – that is how I will treat my clients. We are all children of Jesus Christ, and everyone deserves the same treatment of dignity and compassion. I do give God thanks for the ability to do this work, and prayer and my faith remain as two of the steady pillars in my life. I love all clients, the friendly, the not-so-friendly and the feisty – especially the feisty – they all have a place in my heart,” Carlolice said.
CAREGiver of the Month: Stanley C.
Award-winning CAREGiver Stanley doesn’t panic. Clients and their families, folks who depend on him and the Home Instead Senior Care® franchise that serves New Orleans and Jefferson Parish, love Stanley’s reassuring demeanor and are comforted by his uncommon wisdom.
Most of them don’t know what Stanley’s been through. At 35, he already has seen more than most people experience in an entire lifetime.
Stanley’s deep and abiding Christian faith was tested by Hurricane Katrina and did not waver one iota. Stanley and nine friends spent a frightening night Aug. 29-30, 2005, on the roof of a two-story house not far from the Six Flags theme park as the wind howled and flood waters raged around them. On the morning of Aug. 30, hours after Stanley and his friends watched two alligators and an undetermined number of snakes swim around the house, a Coast Guard helicopter plucked them off the roof.
“Oh,” Stanley said matter-of-factly, “I think anyone who was in the city back then has a Hurricane Katrina story. It was a once-in-a-lifetime event that changed lives. We thought there was a 50-50 chance that we’d be rescued by helicopter, and that’s what happened. They got us to the airport, and we got out of town.”
Before the costliest U.S. hurricane blew in, Stanley had been working for a care company that helps children, the elderly and disabled. “I was operating a lift van for several multiple sclerosis clients,” he said. Of course, he became one of the hundreds of thousands who were displaced. Friends took him in for the first two months in Dallas and for another two months in Lawton, Oklahoma, before he returned to New Orleans in early 2006 to begin rebuilding his life.
With his house gutted and finally repaired – he did much of the work himself – Stanley sought to get back into the business of helping others. On April 17, 2009, he joined owner Lisa Rabito’s Home Instead Senior Care franchise in Metairie. “I had never heard of Home Instead before I found them in the newspaper classifieds,” Stanley said. “We were a good match.”
CAREGiver Development Specialist Fay Kelting agreed and pointed out that Stanley’s CAREGiver of the Month honor in December was his second one. “Stanley is such an outstanding person,” Fay said, “and it is easy to see that his reliability, personality and likability just make him stand out. He is such a soft-spoken person and has a huge heart. Stanley dearly loves his clients, and we know we can count on him.”
Asked what he likes about being a CAREGiver, Stanley said being helpful and making a difference with his clients day in and day out. He quickly added: “My faith is a big part of this. I am a Christian. It is the right thing to do. I believe 100 percent that you should help your fellow man. It is my second nature. Sometimes because of work and family obligations, I cannot make it to church on Sunday, but God knows my heart.”
Stanley also cited several Bible Scriptures for the basis of his beliefs:
- Matthew 25:40 – “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.' "
- Matthew 7:12 – “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”
Stanley added, “Caregiving feels like a ministry, but it is also a job that helps pay the bills for me, my wife and our three children. The big upside to being a Home Instead CAREGiver is that I get to help people while I am working. Keeping a senior at home is important.”
Helping his grandparents, Stanley said, gave him a great feel for senior caregiving. “My grandparents made quite an impression on me – they were married for more than 50 years and loved each other very much. They basically raised me. I lived with them, and whatever they needed, I got,” Stanley said. “I was so close to them their deaths took a toll on me – they died two months apart in 2005 and 2006. My grandmother died as the result of a brain tumor, and my grandfather died of a heart attack – actually I would say a broken heart.
“I love helping older people, and I had a lot of practice in how to deal with the needs of an older person. Working for Home Instead is almost like taking care of my grandparents. In fact, that’s how I view my clients and my attitude toward helping them.”
Stanley and a team of CAREGivers were able to keep a long-time client in his home until the client’s death last September. Stanley had full-time hours with the 93-year-old man for nearly three years. “It was a shock when he passed,” Stanley said. “I wasn’t with him when he died, and the news from the office stunned me. I had gotten to know him well and had learned how to redirect and calm him on the occasions when he became confused.
“Now I have three new clients and am getting acquainted with them and building relationships. Since I plan on staying with Home Instead, it will be interesting to see how everything develops with these new clients. It is always fulfilling.”
CAREGiver of the Month: Keischelle R.
Credit award-winning CAREGiver Keischelle’s quick thinking during an overnight shift when she took an unusual step to comfort an Alzheimer’s client who awoke during the evening confused, disoriented and distraught.
“She kept saying, ‘I want to go home. I want to go home.’ I responded by saying, ‘You are home,’ but she said, ‘No, this isn’t my house,’ ” Keischelle recalled. “She was in so much of an uproar that I took her hand and said, ‘Let’s go.’
“We got into my car and put on our seat belts, and I drove around her block. When I pulled up in her driveway, she said: ‘Finally – I’m home.’ We went back into her house, she went back to her room and she went to sleep soundly. I was so amazed,” Keischelle added.
“I have learned how to respond to dementia clients’ behaviors. Understanding how they feel opened my eyes and made me want to understand them more and learn all about the stages they go through in their daily life.”
CAREGiver Development Specialist Fay Kelting wasn’t surprised by Keischelle’s compassionate ways. “She is our CAREGiver of the Month. We love her, and our schedulers know her winsome ways better than anyone else in the office. She is very sweet and a loving person, especially to her clients,” Fay said.
Before Keischelle joined the Home Instead Senior Care® franchise that serves New Orleans and Jefferson Parish on Jan. 8, 2013, she had soaked in plenty of senior-care experience both as a professional and family caregiver. “I’ve worked with many seniors at a facility for the elderly and at three hospitals, including one in Houston,” Keischelle said. “In my spare time, I take my grandmothers grocery shopping and help them with maintaining their daily living activities.
“My mother-in-law worked for Home Instead Senior Care a few years back, and she informed me how she loved working for a great company. Since I love working with the elderly and assisting them with their everyday living activities, I decided to apply. Home Instead Senior Care is a great company to work for. I absolutely, without a doubt, love my job and love how appreciative my upper managers are and how effectively they communicate.”
Keischelle, who lives on the west bank of Jefferson Parish in Marrero, spends about 25 hours a week with two clients – a married couple. In serving the couple, others on a fill-in basis and previous clients, the CAREGiver of the Month understands the value she provides.
“I get to give back to the seniors in my community and help their families as well,” Keischelle said. “I know it can be overwhelming to take care of your elderly parents and run your own household.”
Keischelle said her faith plays a big role in her life, including caregiving. Her clients benefit from her faith that manifests itself in many tangible ways. She works hard for them and tries to do whatever it takes to help them. Keischelle provides meal preparation, medication reminders, light housekeeping, companionship, and transportation and errands. In addition to those services, Keischelle and other CAREGivers in the Metairie office offer personal assistance with eating, grooming, dressing, bathing, incontinence, cognitive impairment and mobility.
By expertly doing so, Keischelle not only assists her clients but helps their families eliminate worry, reduce stress and re-establish personal freedom. Her patience, compassion and encouragement are instrumental in helping those who have Alzheimer’s diseases or another dementia.
“Everybody needs help in life,” Keischelle pointed out. “Whether, it’s just going to run errands or cleaning a bathroom, I enjoy assisting and learning so much from them. It brings me joy when I get home at night knowing I’ve helped someone.”
Finally, Home Instead Senior Care’s guiding principles are also Keischelle’s mantra: She demonstrates her commitment to her clients by honoring God in all she does; treats her clients and their families with dignity and respect; embraces personal growth in an attempt to continually improve the quality of her care through franchise training; and builds value in her service to others.
CAREGiver of the Month: Angela S.
Faith is so much a part of award-winning CAREGiver Angela’s life that it’s no surprise she was in church when she first became acquainted with the Home Instead Senior Care® franchise in Metairie that serves New Orleans and Jefferson Parish.
“I was offering a St. Jude Novena prayer at my church when a friend came by,” Angela said. “She was looking for a job and mentioned Home Instead. I told her that because my role had changed at my regular day job, I missed the patient interaction. After listening to her, I prayed about possibly working in the evenings for Home Instead, where you have one-on-one contact with your clients. That was a Tuesday or Wednesday. By Saturday, I had applied online and quickly had the job with a company that has positive and productive people.”
That was just the start of a God-honoring relationship with Home Instead that recently led to Angela being honored as CAREGiver of the Month. As broadcasting legend Paul Harvey used to say, here’s the rest of the story:
Question: What is your regular job?
Angela: “I work full time for a medical care company. For seven years, I had close contact with patients as a secretary and receptionist. But I moved into a more secluded admissions and scheduling job with the company.”
Question: How long have you been with Home Instead?
Angela: “I’ve been with them since July 2013.”
Question: When are you a CAREGiver?
Angela: “I work from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Mondays through Fridays with a gentleman who is in his 80s. I am part of his 24/7 CAREGiver team. On some weekends, I am available to do fill-in work if it doesn’t conflict with my regular longtime volunteering duties.”
Question: You keep busy by doing other things. What are they?
Angela: “I am a lay Eucharistic minister with Corpus Christi-Epiphany Catholic Church and Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church. With that responsibility, I take the sacrament of Holy Communion to those who are ill or unable to attend Mass. I also help with First Eucharist and First Reconciliation classes. To sum up, I believe I am called to help people. On a recent Saturday, I attended two funerals that were quite a ways apart, but I felt compelled to go, not only to pay my respects but to also comfort the bereaved.”
Question: I’ve heard you do even more than that.
Angela: “Wow – I think you found out too much! I help my alma mater, St. Katharine Drexel Prep, the former Xavier University Preparatory School on Magazine Street. I coordinated the Jazzing for Drexel Dream fund-raiser last fall and have chaired several class reunions.”
Question: Why are you a CAREGiver?
Angela: “It’s not about a job that brings in money. It’s living to make a difference. The thing I like best about working as a CAREGiver is that I can help the clients in any number of ways. For example, I can help change eating habits if they need to make their lives healthier. It is a blessing and pleasure to be with a client. I see them as being like my parents. While I seek to make a difference, I find that clients make a difference in my life.”
Question: So being a CAREGiver has unexpected additional benefits?
Angela: “God has put these people in my life to be a blessing for me. Being with a client puts value on each day and night I’m with them. I am blessed by the gifts that they’ve accumulated in a lifetime of experiences. They can bless me with their wisdom. I receive an education when they’ve talked about their lives. I am a stronger person because of them. I help them, but they help me day by day by enriching my life with their thoughts and experiences.”
Question: As a devout Christian who wants the best for everyone, what do you say to your clients about your faith?
Angela: “You know what they say about politics and religion, so I tread lightly on those subjects. My regular client volunteered to me that he believed there was a God, but he just didn’t feel anything. I told him I felt I have been blessed every day by God. One day I was reading my prayers while I thought he was napping. He surprised me, and he asked what I was doing. I told him. My client replied, ‘Would you say one prayer for me.’ He knows I go to church early every morning, and he has asked, ‘Did you pray for me today at church?’ My client remind me in his own way that there is a God, and we all need Him.”
Question: Your regular client has a good-natured nickname for you. What is it?
Angela: “It is ‘Five to 10,’ because those are the hours I’m with him. It’s unusual, but I love it.”
Question: What’s the story behind ‘Five to 10?’ ”
Angela: “I had helped him during those hours, then he went to the hospital during December, and I shifted to other clients. When he was ready to leave a rehabilitation facility for home, I went to see him. He is extremely sharp, but he couldn’t immediately think of my name because he had had so many CAREGivers during his 24/7 coverage. But his face lit up when he saw me, and all that came out was ‘There’s my ‘Five to 10!’ If I could get you back, I’ll be good.’ ”
Question: Tell me a little about your client.
Angela: “He’s amazing. He still keeps a strong eye on the stock market, and he reads the newspaper closely and is always pulling something interesting out of it to discuss. He also collects coins and stamps. He is so interesting that I really learn a lot from him. He blesses me.”
Question: Any final thoughts about being a CAREGiver?
Angela: “It’s an awesome experience. I am blessed.”
Blessings run both ways for Angela, and it’s easy to see she has an impact wherever she goes. “In less than a year with Home Instead,” CAREGiver Development Specialist Fay Kelting said, “she has really stood out. She digs in and always finds a way to make things happen. She is very prompt, reliable, loving, and she does everything very efficiently. The staff and her clients just love working with her. She always has a beautiful smile on her face.”
CAREGiver of the Month: Art D.
It’s not surprising that award-winning CAREGiver Art’s philosophy lines up with that of St. Francis of Assisi.
Working for the Home Instead Senior Care® franchise in Metairie that serves New Orleans and Jefferson Parish, Art said his faith “does very definitely” play a role in his job. “I am a devout Catholic, and my faith helps me keep calm and patient with my two wonderful gentleman clients,” Art said. “It is a wonderful opportunity to use the lessons that Jesus teaches. I don’t talk religion with them, but I know they are both good Christian men.”
St. Francis of Assisi, who founded the Franciscan Order in the 1200s, often is credited with the famous statement, “Always remember to preach the Gospel, and if necessary, use words.” Those who know him say that Art is one of those CAREGivers who uses his actions to display his faith.
It’s obvious that Art has made an impact with clients. Before he was ready to take a recent trip, a Home Instead staff member called one of his clients and asked if another CAREGiver could be sent out in Art’s absence. The answer? “No. If I can’t have Art,” the client said, “I’ll manage on my own.”
That moved Art in a special way. It is yet another sign of how the CAREGiver of the Month has touched his clients since joining owner Lisa Rabito’s franchise in August 2012.
“All of his clients love him,” said Fay Kelting, CAREGiver development specialist, “and if he isn’t available, they don’t want anyone else. He is awesome. He travels the extra mile to be a top-notch CAREGiver.
“Art goes out of his way to drop off a card if a client is ill, and he steps up to help staffing or his clients in any way he can. He is, of course, reliable and very loving and has a happy personality. I don’t think he knows a stranger. We are so proud to have selected him as a CAREGiver of the Month, and people know immediately how wonderful he is after talking to him.”
A friend’s persistence got Art in the door at Home Instead. “The friend, a CAREGiver, kept asking me to join Home Instead,” Art recalled. “He felt that if I would enjoy the work and like the staff. So I called, and they gave me a date to come in for a training program. And from day one, I knew that I had done the correct thing.”
Art said his caregiving background was “very limited” before he joined Home Instead. “Actually, none, except I am a very caring, friendly type of personality,” Art said. “My siblings and I took care of our mother at home during her illness.”
He is perfectly matched with his two clients, neither of whom has dementia. Art’s regular schedule includes hours on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays. He makes himself available as a fill-in, including weekend hours.
“Both are ‘with it,’ as they say,” Art explained. “One is very spry, but uses his walker for safety and does exercises. He keeps up with current events and such. The other client is more sedentary but his mind works well, and he enjoys talking about his Army days.”
For Art, the reward is the work.
“What I like most about being a CAREGiver is the feeling that I am actually helping somebody,” Art explained. “The interaction is wonderful, and both of my gentleman clients have such wonderful stories about their lives, their late spouses and their children.”
CAREGiver of the Month: Courtney C.
When someone kidded Courtney, telling her that she’d be famous on social media because she was the CAREGiver of the Month, Courtney chuckled and said, “I think I already am famous with clients who have come my way by assignment from Home Instead Senior Care®. That’s all that matters to me.”
Those Home Instead clients love Courtney because she cares so much about them, said Fay Kelting, CAREGiver development specialist for the Home Instead Senior Care franchise in Metairie that serves New Orleans and Jefferson Parish.
“Courtney is such a sweet and kind person that when you meet her, you can’t help but smile because of her nature,” Fay said. “The staff believes she is a dedicated and loving CAREGiver.
“On the clients’ walls, she puts up inspirational words such as ‘You Can Do It’ and other slogans to help those clients stay encouraged. She has canceled her own plans and stayed with a client when other CAREGivers have called at the last minute and can’t make it.”
Talk with Courtney for just five minutes, and it’s easy to see that she’s passionate about her life’s work, a calling that she has answered for more than 15 years. She’s been with Home Instead Senior Care since April 2011, and she has loved every minute of it.
“I love what I am doing, and I love these clients,” Courtney said. “I have worked whatever hours or times of the day that people have needed. I come every time Home Instead Senior Care calls me. The elderly are so sweet, and I have an attachment to them. I wish I was a clone and could be in more places than just one at a time.”
And that is truly a regret that Courtney has had in the past couple of weeks because she has had to abruptly switch into family caregiver mode for her 26-year-old son who suffered a severe foot and ankle injury at his job. The injuries required three surgeries over the course of a five-day period, so Courtney had to call for backups for some Home Instead Senior Care clients and spend time with her son at the hospital and at his home.
“It is really an unfortunate time because my son’s hurting and I am hurting, too, because sometimes I have had to miss shifts with those clients,” Courtney said. “I am sick about this whole situation. But as the Good Lord says, ‘This too shall pass.’ ”
Family comes first, of course, but clients are a really close second for Courtney.
“Some think I take my job too seriously,” Courtney said. “I will go above and beyond the call of duty for these Home Instead Senior Care clients. That’s the type of heart I have. And if you know me, you know that I really like my job. This is not just a normal job because you are dealing with the welfare of the elderly.
“I know what certain clients need and how to take care of them. They get attached to me, and I am attached to them. They are like family, so I take this job seriously. You must be dependable because they are counting on you. You are dealing with people’s lives.
“If possible, I have taken some of them to restaurants for their birthdays. I take them to the corner store for ice cream. My heart is so big that I can’t help it.”
Finally Courtney said she is blessed with her job. “The people at Home Instead are so sweet,” she said. “I hope to always be with Home Instead, and their people are my family.”
CAREGiver of the Month: Diane B.
Award-winning CAREGiverSM Diane had a front-row seat for an intimate view of a love story that culminated exactly as most couples idealistically proclaim in their wedding vows, “in sickness or in health, to love and to cherish until death do us part.”
The husband and wife were Diane’s clients at the Home Instead Senior Care® franchise of New Orleans and Jefferson Parish. And the wife still is one of Diane’s clients; her husband died in July. Together, they made quite an impression on their CAREGiver.
“The husband was 83 and had been an attorney for nearly 50 years,” said Diane, who recently was honored as the franchise’s CAREGiver of the Month. “He was affected by Parkinson’s and some dementia. I also cared for his wife after she had back surgery.
“The love between these two people was truly great. They were real soul mates. It meant everything in the world to her to be able to keep him at home,” Diane added.
“During the time I cared for him, he was able to say only ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ or one-word answers. After he passed away, his wife remained a client. Knowing them and their family has been wonderful, and they treat me like family.”
The story illuminates one of the intangible benefits of working as a CAREGiver.
“I am so happy I came to work for Home Instead. I love working as a CAREGiver,” said Diane, a Kenner resident who has worked as a licensed practical nurse (LPN) since 1982.
Diane also sees a spiritual component to what she does for seniors and their families.
“I think my faith in God has a role in how I do my job. I think the Bible teaches us to look at everything from a spiritual point of view,” she said. “It’s important in caregiving to respect the clients for who they are and give them peace of mind and comfort in their lives. That’s worth everything.”
Diane has worked for owner Lisa Rabito’s Home Instead franchise since April 2012 after serving for 10 years in hospitals, 19 years in nursing homes and one year in an assisted living community. Diane still works three or four shifts a month at a nursing home on the weekends.
“I had to have surgery on both of my feet for Morton’s neuroma at the end of 2011. After recovering from that, I was looking for a change, but I still wanted to work in senior care,” Diane explained. “I have a sister-in-law who worked for Home Instead as a CAREGiver in another town, and she really enjoyed her job. I also saw a Home Instead CAREGiver at the assisted living facility where I worked.
“So I went online and applied. I was encouraged to see that they do hire retired nurses sometimes. It’s a big change from the hectic schedule of the nursing-home work. I love the flexibility they give us on our schedule, and we can choose which area of town we want.”
The franchise’s CAREGiver development specialist, Fay, praised Diane, saying: “Clients have told us that she is a remarkable CAREGiver. She is very attentive, has a sweet personality and is a super caring person.
“She really is in her element in her clients’ homes, where she takes the lead. She is very flexible when it comes to scheduling because she is open to taking last-minute shifts. Finally, I would say Diane is supportive to all of her clients, quiet but very much knows her job and does it well,” Fay added.
Diane is averaging about 20 hours a week with three regular clients and fill-in shifts. “I hope to remain working for Home Instead for many years to come, and I would recommend the company to anyone,” she concluded.
CAREGiver of the Month: Elizabeth G.
Elizabeth already has a family. But she has been grafted into another one as an award-winning CAREGiverSM at Home Instead Senior Care® of New Orleans and Jefferson Parish.
Her “second family” consists of an 85-year-old wife and her 90-year-old husband. They have nine children, including three daughters and a son who live in the New Orleans area.
“They are a really sweet and easygoing couple,” said Elizabeth, who began serving the couple in June and was honored as the franchise’s CAREGiver of the Month. “I’ve gotten to know them really well. I’ve just connected with the family.
“With these kind folks, the kids love their parents and vice versa. It’s great to work with this family because you feel like you’re part of them. Our Home Instead office found a great fit for the client-CAREGiver relationship. This is what you hope for.”
The family is the third regular client for Elizabeth, who started with Home Instead on June 4, 2012, after discovering the Metairie-based franchise during a job fair at the Frederick J. Sigur Civic Center in Chalmette. Her first client moved to New Jersey to be closer to family, and the second client was a three-week temporary assignment.
“Elizabeth’s clients tell us that they feel as though she is part of their family,” said Fay Kelting, the franchise’s CAREGiver development specialist, “and when she is not on the schedule, most of them say they don’t want anyone else but her. She is a very humble person, very reliable, compassionate for her clients, and always on time for shifts.”
So what does Elizabeth do for her current clients?
“The husband is still active, and he teaches a language arts class at an all-boys school during weekday mornings. He’s out early, drives to work and is back after lunch,” Elizabeth explained. “I help his wife, who is in a wheelchair most of the time and is beginning to have memory problems. I prepare breakfast and lunch for her. When the weather is nice enough, we go outside and check out the flowers, trees and cats. Conversation is important – we talk about things that are fulfilling to her and I try to keep her up on the news, too.”
Before Elizabeth joined the family, she completed the Home Instead Senior Care network’s special training for Alzheimer’s care. It is a unique curriculum known as the Alzheimer’s Disease or Other Dementias CARE: Changing Aging Through Research and Education® Training Program, and it offers a personal approach to taking care of seniors with Alzheimer’s disease at home.
“I took the training class because I knew it would be valuable when I was paired with the client who has Alzheimer’s or dementia,” said Elizabeth, a former Certified Nursing Assistant who had worked in a skilled nursing community for about two years before opting to remain at home with her son until he was older. “I am glad I took the eight-hour class because I learned a lot.
“I previously had worked with patients who had dementia, but this was a new, fresh approach. It is important to have various strategies for redirection and refocusing. Of course, you’ve got to stay calm and patient, and try to be as helpful as you possibly can.”
Elizabeth said it is well worth the time and effort to absorb the information and she recommends that family caregivers attend if workshops are offered in their area or take the online class at HelpforAlzheimersFamilies.com.
“My client is a nice, soft-spoken sweetheart,” she said. “When I talked to Home Instead about employment, something they said really rang true and touched my heart. They told me, ‘Just take care of your clients as if they were your grandparents. My grandmas passed away when I was young. I feel as if I am getting that chance to take care of them now as a Home Instead CAREGiver.”
And that allows Elizabeth to become part of another family, which is exactly what she loves.
CAREGiver of the Month: Tracy H.
Nestled between the Zephyrs baseball stadium and Victory Fellowship Church just south of Airline Drive in Metairie is the New Orleans Saints headquarters and practice facility.
Tracy, an award-winning CAREGiver for the Home Instead Senior Care® franchise in Metairie that serves New Orleans and Jefferson Parish, is well-acquainted with the sprawling complex that includes two emerald-green football fields. That’s where she takes her football-loving client on occasion during their numerous outings across the Big Easy. Her 79-year-old client loves to attend practice even though macular degeneration has limited her eyesight. One day, the client wanted to try to catch a glimpse of star quarterback Drew Brees.
“Unfortunately,” Tracy said, “Brees didn’t come out for practice that day because he was inside the complex rehabilitating an injury. What was impressive, though, was that several players came over to my client after practice and offered to sign autographs.”
How many signatures did Tracy’s client get?
“None,” Tracy said with a hearty laugh that was quickly echoed by her client. “She politely declined their autographs, but graciously thanked them for coming over to see her. Drew Brees really was the target of her affection that day.”
It was another day with her client, another outing and another raucous round of laughter. How could life get any better for Tracy? “My client and I get along so well that she tells me every day that the Lord sent me into her life,” Tracy said. “I am not her CAREGiver, I am her family. That’s how we feel.”
Tracy and her client have been together for a year, and she has been with owner Lisa Rabito’s franchise since 2010. When asked what she likes best about being a CAREGiver, there was a pregnant pause. “I can’t explain it. It’s everything,” she said, searching for just the right words. “Senior caregiving is my life. You must have a passion for it, and you have to be willing to go above and beyond the call of duty for your client. I enjoy doing it. That’s what God put in my heart.”
Tracy’s client interjected: “I feel blessed. I thank God for every day that He gives me Tracy. He hugs me, and He shows His love for me by giving me such a CAREGiver who cares for me and keeps me laughing.” Tracy said there is a spiritual aspect to her close relationship with her client, explaining that they pray together each day and “give thanks and praise to God.”
Companionship ranks No. 1 for CAREGiver and client, but Tracy also takes her client to doctors’ appointments and for groceries while hitting restaurants for just about anything that ranges the client would like to eat. Tracy also keeps a ship-shape home for her client and her client’s husband.
Tracy has been with her client through good and bad times. Tracy spent seven days at her client’s side in a hospital last summer after she suffered a minor stroke that initially stole much of her mobility. “I also was there for the two weeks when she was in a nursing home for rehabilitation,” Tracy said. “I would get her husband and bring him with me to visit her. She has been doing well now, and by God’s grace, she is walking. I was with her every step of the way, encouraging her as she used the walker to regain what she had lost.”
CAREGiver Development Specialist Fay Kelting said Tracy is the perfect example of a CAREGiver of the Month. “Tracy is an exceptionally happy person, and clients love her because she loves to take them out for many different types of activities if they are able to do it,” Fay said. “She is always thinking of something new to do with them.
“Her primary client has lost much of her vision, but you can see the zest for life on her client’s face because Tracy doesn’t let that stop her taking her client out for fun activities. When we did Tracy’s award presentation in the office, she brought her client and they were on their way to a Saints practice. This is just one example of Tracy’s exemplary gift of caregiving.”
Tracy sees a long future with Home Instead Senior Care. “I love my job. I think I’ll retire with them,” she said. She no quicker finished with her declaration when her client piped up: “You aren’t going anywhere but with me.”
CAREGiver of the Year: Roy Z.
Imagine being a family caregiver living in northern Virginia more than 1,000 miles from an elderly father in Metairie. By car, that’s nearly an 18-hour drive, and by commercial airliner, it’s about a three-hour flight after a 70-minute drive to the airport. So many long-distance family caregivers can relate.
This successful medical professional and his brother entrust their father’s care to CAREGiver Roy, who manages a multitude of things such as medical appointments, scheduling, trips, errands, light housekeeping, meal preparation and medication reminders. Perhaps Roy’s biggest care offering is companionship; he and his client are best of friends, and he involves his client with his family, including two beautiful granddaughters who love to chat with the client. Since Roy does all of those things with such excellence and ease, it is no surprise that he is the CAREGiver of the Year for the Home Instead Senior Care® franchise in Metairie that serves New Orleans and Jefferson Parish.
When asked what Roy means to his father, the medical professional responded: “Roy does go above and beyond the call of duty, even making absolutely certain that my dad was completely safe and taken care of during the last big hurricane. Roy truly has been a blessing to our father – he takes care of our dad as though he were a son living close by. My dad really likes Roy, and Roy has been a great aid to him being with us as long as he has.”
Home Instead’s CAREGivers have been special, the client’s son said, and there is no question others have gone above and beyond what was required of them. “But,” he said, “Roy takes his companionship and service to a higher level.”
For instance, the client’s son said, Roy has helped by sending his trusted family members and friends to his father’s home to perform needed work. Roy has adapted chairs and helped with the physical limitations that his father has in his home, making it more comfortable and safe for him. Roy also has coordinated many other things too numerous to list.
“Through the years that Roy has been helping our father,” the client’s son added, “he has taken him on day trips to places that are special to our father, places where he would not have been able to return to if it were not for Roy.
The client’s son also said a recent communication with Roy helps paint a detailed picture of Roy’s thorough care for his father. Excerpts from Roy’s detailed report:
“All is going well with your dad. Since the weather has gotten better, I’ve been getting him to use the walker more. Hence, he is getting his Cary Grant stride back. We found a good place for walking at a mall. He loves the mall; there are lots of activities, and the pretty ladies seem to brighten his day.
“He loves good movies, but not some of the new ones with all the wild animation or shooting and killing. The types we see are ones with heartfelt meanings. We’ve seen “Pompeii,” which he enjoyed and “God’s Not Dead” with Kevin Sorbo.
“A sleeper movie we caught was “50-1,” which follows the journey of the 2009 Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird. Your dad recognized jockey Calvin Borel from St. Martinsville, La., and surprisingly called him by name, “That’s Calvin!” I went to Wikipedia and printed Calvin’s bio for your dad – he loves to have things in print.
“About those printouts: I’ve started a binder. It helps him recall things when we talk, and he loves to go over them. Especially the de Laval nozzle, which is shaped like an hourglass and used in rockets. The nozzle was a major factor in Homer Hickam’s success in the movie “October Sky.” Homer became one of NASA top engineers.
“Every day I’m with your dad, it’s like a history lesson! Your dad has a plethora of stories that go back to his farm days that people would enjoy hearing and he would enjoy telling. We should have a story time for him. We could invite my two granddaughters and some Home Instead people. We could have some ice cream and cake and let him tell stories for 20 or 30 minutes.
“We had some fun singing, too. I think one was an old Ray Charles song, ‘Side by Side.’ The lyrics are appropriate and go something like: ‘Oh, we ain’t got a barrel of money; Maybe we’re ragged and funny; But we travel along, singin’ our song, Side by Side.’ ”
Roy, who is 72, wants to keep making memories with his client “until he doesn’t need me.” “Everyone thinks he is my dad anyway – ask Ruby and Reagan, my granddaughters,” he said. Asked to sum up his caregiving experience, Roy paused and said, “To me, life is not measured by the breaths we take, but by our breathtaking moments. Thanks to my client, we are making those every day.”
While nominating Roy for his Home Instead honor, the client’s son summed up his superlatives for Roy by saying the CAREGiver has not only been someone who has worked for his father, but Roy has been truly a friend. “This is a rare commodity,” the client’s son said, “and I highly recommend him for CAREGiver of the Year.”
CAREGiver of the Month: Madina
Oh, the stories. From tales about old girlfriends to card games, award-winning CAREGiver Madina probably has heard it all.
She recounted a client’s stories about unrequited loved that came from a 92-year-old former California lawyer who had a great sense of humor and excellent memory. As Madina listened, she would learn more and more about “Maxine.”
As the story goes, “Maxine” was from the client’s hometown of Rogersville, Tenn., and was the object of the client’s unreturned youthful affection long before he married his long-time wife and experienced a fulfilling life that included a loving family and highly successful law practice.
“He always wondered why ‘Maxine’ wouldn’t marry him. After mulling it over, he finally came to the conclusion that she just simply didn’t want to,” said Madina, a CAREGiver of the Month for the Home Instead Senior Care® franchise in Metairie that serves New Orleans and Jefferson Parish. “With his sense of humor, I didn’t know for sure what to think – maybe he was kidding around with me. By all accounts, his real marriage was great. His wife died five years ago.”
Those stories are one reason why Madina is a CAREGiver. She loves seniors, loves to help them and loves to provide support for clients’ families. Sadly, the retired lawyer died last August, six months before his 93rd birthday, so there are no more “Maxine” stories.
But another client has left Madina in stitches. Before suffering an ankle injury and entering a rehabilitation program following her hospitalization, the 80-something woman took part in activities that included poker games. “This lady is so amazing. Her favorite saying is, ‘If it ain’t one thing, it’s two things,” Madina said with a giggle. “She is doing well.
“I hear the best stories. Someone always has something different with his or her stories.”
The Home Instead staff sees a pattern with Madina’s clients – they do well because Madina is with them.
“Madina is an especially awesome personality. She can make anyone smile,” said Fay Kelting, the franchise development specialist. “She’s always a positive person. She is a hands-on and reliable CAREGiver. She can be called on for last-minute shifts and helps out tremendously in that area of staffing.”
Said Madina: “One of the enjoyments of caregiving is the various people I meet. I am always working with someone different, it seems, because several of my clients have come out of the hospital and gotten better. Some have passed on.
Madina’s story, in its own right, is intriguing. She has worked full time, noon to 9 p.m., for an armored car service in Metairie since February 2010 and was looking for extra work when she found Home Instead during an online search. She has been with owner Lisa Rabito’s Home Instead franchise since Jan. 12, 2012. “It has been a good two years,” Madina pointed out.
Her previous senior-care experience had come with family. She helped with a grandmother until she died in 2002. “Grandma had diabetes, and both of her legs had been amputated,” Madina explained. “I also helped with my grandpa. My mother is doing great – she’s a registered nurse because Grandma really pointed her in that direction.”
Madina said she loves her Home Instead job, which includes Monday-through-Friday overnight shifts (10 p.m. to 8 a.m.) as part of the franchise’s 24/7 coverage for her client. “I do like to keep busy, and my client is wonderful,” she said. “We have three, maybe four other CAREGivers working with her. We all stay on the same page by keeping a detailed log about her care.
“I’ve been with her for two months, and she has a walking boot now. The client sleeps pretty well, usually from 11 p.m. to 4 or 5 a.m. I make her breakfast as soon as she gets up. She always wants two pancakes with jelly and a cup of coffee. She is doing so well that I can see she probably is going to be able to return to living without us one day. I will miss her.”
And her stories.
CAREGiver of the Month: Pastor Joe
It’s only fitting that Pastor Joe explains his role as a CAREGiver in biblical terms.
For his favorite Scripture, he selected Acts 16, centering on verse 26. “When the chains fell off Paul and Silas during the prison earthquake, they could have run off and avoided further trouble, but they didn’t,” said Joe, a CAREGiver of the Month for the Home Instead Senior Care® franchise in Metairie that serves New Orleans and Jefferson Parish. “They still ministered to people, some of whom weren’t so nice, because that is what God told them to do. Paul and Silas kept their commitment to serve the Lord. We, too, have to make a commitment to serve.”
Asked to connect this message to senior care, Joe said: “We cannot run off and abandon the elderly like some people are prone to do. I believe we are commanded to stick around and help them, to be faithful to them and to the One who asks us to stay. There are far too many lonely people in this world, many of whom are seniors. Many times they are alone through no one’s fault – perhaps they’ve outlived everyone they know. Or their kids live too far away to help. That’s where Home Instead can help, and I am glad to work for Home Instead and step in. God is good, so we’ve got to be good to others. We’ve got to be like the Good Samaritan. I like to meet all different kinds of people in my job with Home Instead, and my clients become just like family to me. I never preach to them – unless they want me to.”
Joe, 73, is a pastor at St. James Methodist Church in New Orleans and is also active with his American Legion Post and VFW, in prison ministry and with his Kiwanis Club. He leads a Bible study for seniors at his church and does marital counseling as part of his pastoral duties. In February 2013, he joined Home Instead Senior Care after seeing the franchise’s newspaper ad.
“I love helping seniors and always have been active with them. That’s how my mother taught me. I have taught reading, writing and arithmetic to all ages, including seniors,” said Joe, whose diverse job history includes a stint as a funeral director in Biloxi, Mississippi, where he received National Cemetery Awards in 2003 and 2004 while coordinating the burial of military veterans.
“We are commanded by God to help people who need help. The best way to take care of someone is with a smile. You can’t be antsy with a client.”
Joe has been anything but anxious with seniors, which CAREGiver Development Specialist Fay Kelting confirms. “It is such a joy having him work for us,” Fay said. “He’s a pastor and well-respected in the community – especially with Home Instead Senior Care. Joe has a wonderful sense of humor, and the clients love him. He always comes in the office either singing or laughing and telling a funny joke. He entertained us at Christmas by singing many spiritual songs and having us join in. He is a natural-born happy person and spreads that joy no matter where he goes. It was an honor to choose him as CAREGiver of the Month.”
The wife of one of Joe’s clients agrees: “Joe is the only person I know who doesn’t just like people – he loves them.”
And Joe loves to tell uplifting stories about his clients, including a two-week assignment with a clergyman who was recovering from back surgery. “I got a workout just visiting him because I had to climb three flights of stairs to reach him,” Joe said with a laugh. “He had his master’s degree from the Northern Baptist Theological Seminary, and I had my degrees from lesser-known institutions. We were kindred spirits and had some wonderful theological discussions. We were going back and forth with obscure Scripture passages, trying to recite something the other didn’t know. When he healed up, he no longer needed me. He sent a really nice letter to the office about me, which I appreciated.”
Of course, Joe sees plenty of sadness, loneliness, illness, disability and sometimes anger and frustration. Addressing the difficulties that many seniors experience, he said: “This world is something. We find ourselves in a lot of predicaments. Trouble – some people call them tests – is an inescapable part of life. Trouble is always coming our way. You are either coming out of a troubled time, going into it or right in the middle of it now. No matter what is happening, you have to remember God is good to all of us. I do a little extra, and as a Christian I believe I am commanded to do that. That’s what a Christian should do, put in a little extra work to help someone. You have to treat people like you want to be treated. I don’t cheat the Lord. I give Him my best. If I can help a senior, that’s what I want to do. As long as I have breath in my body, I want to be helping people.”
CAREGiver of the Month: Gillis
Spend a little time with award-winning CAREGiver Gillis, and it isn’t difficult to see the source of her inspiration, a power that spurs her to care for others.
“My faith is in Jesus Christ, and He has anointed me with His unconditional love and His perfect peace. I always treat people as I want to be treated, not as they treat me,” Gillis said. “I love people, and children and seniors have a special place in my heart. It’s not a chore, because I feel it’s a pleasure to help and do my best to generate a smile and contentment.”
The Kenner resident’s unlimited reservoir of compassion has not gone unnoticed – Gillis was honored as CAREGiver of the Month for the Home Instead Senior Care® franchise in Metairie that serves New Orleans and Jefferson Parish.
“It is her sincerity and natural charisma as a person that really makes her stand out,” said Fay Kelting, the franchise’s CAREGiver development specialist. “She is genuinely a beautiful person inside and out, and her clients just love her. She has always been a great CAREGiver but during the last six months or more, she has really blossomed into one of the greatest CAREGivers.”
Gillis, who has been a CAREGiver for the past five years, loves to meet seniors, helps them live to the fullest and enjoys their stories. A 71-year-old female client especially touched Gillis.
“She had had brain surgery because of an aneurysm, but was still full of life and felt she could do what she always could,” Gillis recalled. “I had her as a client only a few weeks before her passing.
“She loved to go outside, so I would take her for long rides in her wheelchair. One day as we were sitting on the couch, she commented wistfully, ‘I wish I could read my Scriptures.’ So I asked her, ‘Would you like me to quote Scripture?’ She nodded and said, ‘You are one of the nicest people I have ever known.’ I replied, ‘I am glad we met.’ Later, I felt very humbled to receive a call inviting me to her funeral service that was private, just family and close friends.”
Gillis’ first caregiving experiences came about 20 years apart. She didn’t actually see herself as a caregiver when she moved back to Texas in 1984 to help her mother for five years before she passed away in 1989. “Then I was a family caregiver again,” Gillis said, “and this time it was in 2007, when I took care of my husband who died in September of that year.”
In January 2008, she was laid off after 15 years with an insurance company. She didn’t allow her trials and tribulations to get her down. Quoting from an unknown author, Gillis said, “Life is like melted butter – once things cool down, it can be reshaped.”
Gillis spotted Home Instead in a newspaper ad about a year later and found fulfillment as a CAREGiver. She now has two clients, both of whom have dementia. “I plan carefully every day I have them,” she said, explaining that consistent routines provide the highest amount of comfort.
Beyond her faith, Gillis believes her success is tied to the support she receives from franchise owner Lisa Rabito and her staff. “Lisa’s franchise is first rate. She has done a great job of striving for excellence in caregiving,” Gillis said. “Lisa is so sugar sweet, which means all of the staff is just like her, truly a reflection of the leader. When you put those things together, they find the same kind of CAREGivers – people who are sweet and want to help someone else.
“I am humbled to be a part of a great team of what I call ‘Lisa’s Angels.’ ”
CAREGiver of the Month: Joe G.
At 71, Joe is done with the staid stuff in life. He just wants to help people, help them stay in their homes and help them enjoy life.
The New York native grew up in Brooklyn in a tiny apartment with a loving, compassionate family. He at first wanted to make people laugh and forget their troubles while learning to be an actor-comedian in the Big Apple. As budding entertainers often do, he worked at a number of jobs that added flavor to his life. Later, he served in the military. He then carefully crafted a successful 25-year career in New Orleans with an American multinational insurance corporation.
Now Joe thinks he has the best gig of his life. He’s serving seniors as an award-winning CAREGiver at the Home Instead Senior Care® franchise in Metairie that serves New Orleans and Jefferson Parish. He has enjoyed his time with owner Lisa Rabito’s franchise for more than three years, joining the company after hearing from “a friend’s friend” about Home Instead.
“I felt I needed to go back to work, but I did not consider looking into my old company where I had built a good career yet felt unfulfilled and stressed,” the CAREGiver of the Month recalled. “To put the whole thing in perspective, I tell people that it is important to know how temporary life is and how precious it is. Life is about relationships and helping each other – that’s how I was brought up. Home Instead does that because it is an exceptional company, positive and professional, that does great work.
“At Home Instead, my clients are like my family, and I give them 100 percent. People need attention, someone who will make them a priority. One-on-one attention is a big thing. I devote myself to them, and they appreciate it. I am very particular with my clients, how I treat them and how I want others to treat them. Our clients have been through a lot, and I don’t ever want to be stern or seem unwelcoming. I get to know my clients, and their families, too. I open myself up and communicate with them. My job at Home Instead enables me to be jovial and laugh a lot.”
Look up “laughter” or “fun” in a dictionary, and you’ll see Joe’s picture. “I act silly with my clients, but that is part of my shtick. When I was young, I wanted to be an actor and entertain people, make them happy. I draw a little bit from that motivation to get my clients to smile. I like to get them laughing,” Joe said.
“I remember one time when I took a client to a park pond and brought two old loaves of bread to feed the birds. When we tossed the pieces out, we were suddenly surrounded by what seemed like a thousand birds. I started screaming like Jerry Lewis; it was like an Alfred Hitchcock movie, complete with some diving crows. My client got such a kick out of my silliness that he couldn’t stop laughing. When our bread was gone, the birds left us in a split second.
“Why not make it fun for your clients, too? When I hear, ‘You make my day,’ it goes far for me. It makes me feel good. I want to do something good for someone at this stage of my life. Do I make mistakes? You bet. Never trust a man who says he has never made a mistake – that’s something I think Will Rogers said. I am still working to be better as a CAREGiver.”
Joe said he also knows when to stop being funny. “Faith, hope and charity are a way of life for me. My clients are at the end of a lifetime, and I treat them with dignity. The hardest part of the job for me is losing a client,” said Joe, who explained his take on life, death and faith:
“Faith is a big word. If you take a second and look around, just the idea that you’re here and existing as a human among the good and evil that goes on, that by itself elicits a lot of questions for some. As far as religion goes, I think people – clients – have their minds made up about God and their own philosophies about their faith. I am careful in discussing such matters. I can speak from my own experience of being a Catholic if they come to me and ask me about faith issues.
“I want them to feel comfortable expressing their faith to me. It is not my place to change their minds. Let them say their peace so that they can feel at peace. I have lost three clients to death, and I mourn their passing. It really is hard. For one, I could not bear to go to the funeral. You have to take time to regroup emotionally. You maybe wonder if you can go through it again.
“Then you wake up one morning and say to yourself, ‘He’s in heaven, or she’s in heaven. Well, stop being a wimp – it is time to get another client. Someone else out there needs me.’ And then I am ready to go. Death doesn’t scare me, but I certainly don’t joke about it with my clients. I am settled emotionally and don’t have a bucket list. My big goal now is to make life better for someone else.”
Joe doesn’t see complete retirement on the horizon. “I hope I can continue doing what I do in the years to come. I am not ready for total retirement as of yet,” he said.
CAREGiver of the Month: Lynn S.
Award-winning CAREGiver Lynn intently kept up on the LSU Tigers, the New Orleans Saints and politics – although not necessarily in that order – for a 91-year-old client who had Alzheimer’s disease and loved to talk about such things. Some of their talks went much personal and deeper, too, which was evidence of a strong bond between them.
“We sure had some laughs and fun together in these discussions that kept his thinking sharper,” said Lynn, who spent 15 months with the client. “A rapport developed where we talked about subjects that were important to him in those remaining months, what remained on his bucket list, what would be important to him about his funeral.”
During the client’s last bedridden days, he became dependent on supplemental oxygen, his family, hospice workers and CAREGivers. Eventually, the client’s parched lips could pass only air sounds. “On one of those final days,” Lynn recalled, “I shared that the politician he despised the most was in town that day and that I could get him to the politician’s rally if he wanted to go. He murmured the sounds of ‘I’m busy today’ as a slight smile cracked on his cheeks.”
The exchange was like a warm ray of sunshine cutting through the darkness. It was apparent that Lynn’s family-like relationship with his client had grown stronger each day, and so it is with him and each of his clients. The CAREGiver of the Month for the Home Instead Senior Care® franchise in Metairie that serves New Orleans and Jefferson Parish is the epitome of compassion and provides “quirky humor” if the situation calls for it.
“Lynn is very good with clients, and they just love him,” said Fay Kelting, the franchise’s CAREGiver development specialist.
Fay said she has heard stories about Lynn and his clients, and isn’t surprised by much that has gone on during Lynn’s three years and three months with owner Lisa Rabito’s franchise. Above all, the former U.S. Marine, who spent part of his duty in Vietnam, is a man of faith. He and his wife of 44 years are active in their church, where his wife serves on church council and he is the chairman of the pastoral search committee. He unexpectedly drew on that faith during a stunning first day with a Parkinson’s client.
“As the client opened the front door to take his dog for a walk, the dog lunged and pulled the leash from the client’s hand. In a tragic scene, the client witnessed his dog being hit by a car and killed in an accident,” Lynn recounted. “As the client, his wife and I sat in the consultation room at the veterinary clinic, they looked up at me and poignantly asked what they should do. There is a chapter in the Professional Caregiver Handbook about dealing with a death in the family. But being a new CAREGiver, I had not gotten that far in my reading.
“God gave me the insight to enter into prayer as we wrapped arms around each others’ shoulders. The prayer just came off my lips to thank God for placing this dog in their lives, for all of the good times they had and that now God was calling their dog to His home, for reasons we don’t know. But, I prayed, the focus needed to be on the blessings for having had this dog.”
Lynn, it seems, knows the appropriate words for nearly every situation with the client. He’s had a wide array of experiences. Lynn had a 32-year career with the F.W. Dodge Division of McGraw-Hill Inc., and a short stint in a property development business. He sits on the Krewe of Zeus board of directors and also serves on other committees. Lynn works full time with Stericycle as a Sharps specialist, in which he exchanges filled needle boxes in two hospitals.
“My mom was always a nurturing, caregiver type of person and some of that rubbed off on me,” Lynn explained. “It just seemed to be instinctive in my blood and nature to help others along the way. Being a CAREGiver takes me away from whatever I am bothered or troubled with, as my client becomes my focus. It is always a challenge to get my mind to think ahead of theirs. I feel so blessed when I see a heartwarming smile break out on the client’s face.”
Lynn recalls a day at the Home Instead office that was a shocker – actually it frightened him at the start.
“I got a call to come into the office, so I did. As I waited, I kind of wondered why all of the staff members came out of their offices, gathering around,” he said. “A thought suddenly ran through the back of my mind: ‘So is this how they dismiss an employee?’
“Then they really surprised me with the CAREGiver of the Month award. I feel I am just doing my job to the best of my ability. This sure did create a special blessing for me. I was humbled to receive the honor, and I want to emphasize that Lisa and her staff are really great folks.”