Home Instead® clients confide in CAREGiver of the Quarter Dora Hidalgo because they can feel her big heart beating from all the way across the room. It also doesn’t take long for clients to discover Dora has a warm, empathetic ear, which comes with razor-sharp listening skills and a genuine interest in every word they have to say.
Sometimes clients look to Dora for responses to their questions and dilemmas. Dora, who has a wise, discerning quality in addition to her other strong attributes, knows there isn’t always a good answer or comforting words for every conundrum. That’s when she turns to her faith and shares in a nonintrusive manner if it seems like the right time.
“I have many great memories from work, but my favorite one was when a client shared a difficult family situation that was causing her much grief. My words could not console her. With me being a Christian and my client also being a person of faith, I asked if I could pray with her. We did many times, and I know that praying is what got her through that difficult time,” said Dora, who was surprised and felt humbled to learn Home Instead of New Braunfels had honored her as CAREGiver of the Quarter just five months after she had joined the award-winning franchise owned by Jeremy and Sylvia Farber.
General Manager Allison Johnston said: “Dora is a relatively new employee who came to us from a competitor. We have been so blessed to have her on our team, and our office staff members unanimously agreed she deserves to be recognized. She has two long-term clients with a couple of others for whom she gladly covers.”
Allison added: “One story shows how caring and detail-oriented Dora is with each of her clients. I was performing an evaluation of another CAREGiver who wanted to give kudos to Dora. In one situation, Dora was introducing the CAREGiver to Dora’s long-term client. The CAREGiver said Dora came prepared with lists and a summary of a typical day for the client. The CAREGiver said it was the most thorough introduction she’s had and felt incredibly prepared.”
Dora pointed out she is new to professional senior care. But she spent considerable time caring for her grandmother, who was in her late 90s. Dora explained: “For more than a year, I lived with her for two weeks at a time, alternating with another family member. It was through this situation I discovered I loved assisting people in this particular season of their life, and it was truly my calling!”
Dora used a Google search to find Home Instead, and she became a CAREGiver in early December 2020. “I was previously with another agency, but they were unable to provide enough hours close to my home, so I decided to supplement my income with a secondary agency,” Dora said. “I was very impressed with Home Instead Training and Engagement Supervisor Nancy Weigandt and with the content of the orientation, which was an eight-hour class as opposed to a 15-minute briefing I received with the other agency.”
Dora added: “Not long into the orientation, I knew Home Instead was the only agency I wanted to represent. I was further pleased about their additional training they offer on an ongoing basis. I know this level of training will best equip me to handle the daily CAREGiver challenges. I could not do my job effectively if it wasn’t for the dedicated staff who have always shown me great patience, understanding, support, encouragement and appropriate advice the many times I have called for their assistance.”
Asked what she likes best about her job, Dora said: “I have the amazing opportunity to come alongside clients and their families to assist them in a season of their lives when they need outside help. It is my goal to help clients feel valued during a time where they may be feeling helpless, hopeless and unproductive. My clients have lived very productive and rewarding lives, and I can help them realize they have much to give and are still contributing in many ways.”
Senior-care professionals, Dora pointed out, must learn everything about their clients. Included in that knowledge is figuring out how to draw out what is important to a client and nurturing it.
“In getting to know a client, I find topics to discuss in which they are more knowledgeable than myself so they can have stimulating conversations with an opportunity to pour into someone else. As I ask more questions, they usually are more stimulated and engaged,” Dora said.
“I often tell my clients, ‘You’re helping me more than I’m helping you!’ It’s important to me that my clients don’t feel as if I’m taking away their independence, but that rather I am helping them retain it. I love that their families have made the decision to partner with me in keeping their loved ones with Home Instead, because that’s where they belong!”
Dora noted that one client is a giving and thoughtful person who cares about others, even strangers. “Sometimes she and I cook together, or I watch her make homemade chicken noodle soup with sliced corn on the cobb or southern coleslaw with dried cranberries. I tell her she’s giving me something special when she shares her favorite recipes with me,” Dora said.
The daughter of another client requests Dora’s help with her mother’s exercise, so they take a walk nearly every time Dora is with her. But walking is not something the client typically does on the days when Dora is not with her. “It’s always a treat to get out to stretch our legs and get some fresh air. Her home sits on a 10-acre lot with a winding driveway that’s set back from the street,” Dora explained.
“Along with getting exercise, we see beauty and creatures we would otherwise take for granted. This gives us something wonderful to talk about. So often we see something new or forgotten, and we’ll come back to the house and look up the name of a songbird or flower. As an aside, the client and I were Girl Scouts, and she worked many years for Girl Scouts and retired as a divisional CEO, so going for walks satisfies the little Girl Scout in each of us.”
The son of a 77-year-old client praised Dora and pointed out: “Dora is great. She is very thorough, helpful and attentive, but she’s not overbearing. Dora is very understanding. She is among the CAREGivers who are rotating on my mother’s care schedule. My mother likes Dora, and we talk about each CAREGiver. My mother has dementia, and she cannot recall every detail about each CAREGiver, but she has a positive view of Dora and what she does for her. We’ve had Home Instead since August 2020. My mother has a CAREGiver seven days a week, 10 hours each day. Things are going well with Home Instead.”
Service Coordinator Victoria Raxter said, “Dora has wonderful communication skills with both the office and clients. She responds in a timely manner to shift requests to let me know if she is able to work the shift or not. She gives detailed information when we have any questions about her clients. She frequently receives high praise from her clients and their families. They compliment Dora on her consistent, personalized and high level of care she provides every day.”
Finally, Dora considers her work as a form of ministry, and she has a favorite Bible verse that dovetails nicely with what she tries to do each day as a CAREGiver. “John 14:27 says. ‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.’ ”
All Home Instead CAREGivers are screened, trained, bonded and insured. For inquiries about employment, please call (830) 624-8380 or apply online. For further information about Home Instead, visit our website.