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December 24, 2020

Staff ‘Would Like to Clone’ CAREGiver of the Year Lisa

Caregiver of the Year Lisa with franchise office staff
The Home Instead® of New Braunfels office and its clients have a lot to say about 2020 CAREGiver of the Year Lisa Ruiz-Burchfield, but one staff member boiled the superlatives to a succinct sentence: “We wish we could clone Lisa!”

“Lisa is amazing. She truly has the heart of a CAREGiver,” a staff member said while pointing to the fact that Lisa was honored as one of the franchise’s CAREGivers of the Quarter in 2019 just six months after joining the award-winning Texas office.

“Lisa started at Home Instead with no experience, but she had a desire to help people. She was working at a large retail store full time but decided she needed to do something more rewarding. Using speed as a metaphor, Lisa went from 0 to 60 right at the beginning of her employment with us. She quickly grew into one of our ‘go-to’ CAREGivers. I think of Lisa as a sweet ‘Energizer Bunny.’ She is strong and capable, has lots of energy and just keeps on going.”

From the beginning of Lisa’s tenure, staff members explained, she asked for more training and then picked up the more challenging clients. No matter which client the Home Instead schedulers give her, Lisa always maintains a positive attitude. They also said Lisa knows how to set boundaries so she doesn’t get overwhelmed and burned out. “Lisa balances her busy CAREGiver schedule with the needs of her family, which includes two children,” they said.

Lisa checks the boxes for qualities that make an outstanding CAREGiver, the office said. For one, her communication skills are exemplary. Staff members said whether it is about reporting to the office or helping resolve a concern with a client, Lisa has gone above and beyond the call of duty.

For example, Lisa took a fill-in shift with a client whose electricity was out when Lisa arrived. She called the office to get it resolved. Meanwhile, Lisa noticed the client needed items such as laundry detergent, paper towels, cleaning spray and other things. She made a list and got the items he needed. As Lisa was leaving to go to her next shift, she noted a bulge in the client’s lower abdomen. She asked about it, checked and discovered he had a large hernia, which the Home Instead office reported to the client’s son.

Other examples of Lisa’s terrific communication skills have included caring for clients with advanced dementia and finding ways to connect with them through music, games and listening. Staff members also know that Lisa customizes meaningful activities for her clients. One staff member said, “Lisa definitely does not try to force one style of care to fit all clients. She does the extra, and people notice that.”

Office members also said: “Lisa possesses keen problem-solving skills that truly benefit the office as well as the clients. Instead of just saying ‘no’ to a shift where timing is off as far as her personal obligations, Lisa will offer a solution. For example, she might say, ‘I can work that shift if you can move it up an hour.’ Lisa tries to make extra shifts fit in her schedule and has gone to the trouble of driving from one end of the franchise territory to the other for back-to-back shifts on the same day.”

Most weeks, Lisa works 40 hours or more. Even though she doesn’t have many regular clients, she is in demand after filling in for a day or two because clients will request her as a regular CAREGiver. Lisa explained: “I am always trying to solve situations to make things easier or better for the client. I have a passion for the clients just as if they were my mother, dad or grandparents. I want the best for my clients. I just wish I could be with each client 24/7, but I cannot.”

Lisa has been faced with challenging situations, including emotional ones. She recently went through the experience of the first death of a client while she was on duty. Lisa started the shift at 11 a.m., the client died seven hours later and Lisa stayed for two more hours until a hospice nurse arrived. “If you are in senior care, it’s bound to happen sooner or later. It was my first day with the hospice client who was in his 90s. His wife, son and grandson were there. It was expected, but not that quickly,” Lisa said.

“After his passing, I helped by calling the Home Instead office and the hospice company to get a nurse. I talked to the wife to offer some words of comfort. His wife knew her husband’s death was near, but that doesn’t make it any easier. I felt bad because I didn’t get to know the client. But I did what I needed to do to help him and his family. I followed his wife’s directions. Doing just that much and being there for moral support can make a difference for the family.”

One of Lisa’s clients has dementia, and his needs were many. “I’ve worked a lot with dementia clients during the past six months This is a unique situation. He’s in his 70s, and his dementia is challenging. His mother died three years ago, and his son lives out of state. He is somewhat withdrawn because he’s been alone for a while. I tried to get him to walk, and he said, ‘I don’t do walking.’ I couldn’t get him to brush his teeth and shower, but I did clean up the bathroom so if he did take a shower, it was ready. I was glad I got in there to help him. I let the office know what I saw, so we can find the best ways to help him and update his son.”

Lisa was warm and compassionate, so the client remembered her when she came back for her next shift. “He doesn’t know my name, but he recognizes me. It’s just my passion to make him safe and happy. I try to fit everything into a shift, and I try not to step on the client’s toes. I have to explain what I’m doing to help him, and he’s OK with it. He was very gratified. It’s tough for him to converse sometimes, but I can tell he appreciates the effort,” Lisa said.

The extra challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic has altered the senior-care situations for all CAREGivers, and the office staff members praised Lisa for adjusting well. She explained: “I have had lots of dementia clients, and I’ve heard, ‘Why are you wearing a mask?’ I take my mask down briefly when I arrive so they can see my whole face. That saves on the alarm and stress they feel initially. Some know I have to take their temperatures as a precaution. To help my clients outside of my shifts by staying healthy, I just get groceries and go back home. I do not go out any more than I need to. I buy in bulk for fewer shopping trips. PPE supplies are good because the office does a good job in every respect, including training and updates.”

One caregiving memory typified Lisa’s quiet, calming approach to her job, staff members pointed out. A client asked Lisa to sit with him as he ate his lunch. Lisa hesitated momentarily only because she had a short time for the fill-in shift, and she knew the other tasks she needed to handle. But Lisa sat and chatted, asking the client about his family and carrying on a conversation. The interaction was something only a few people previously had been able to do with the client.

Finding a lull in the conversation, Lisa then asked, “Can I take out the trash and do your laundry?” The client was overwhelmed and said, “Yes! I’d like that. How can I thank you?” No thanks was necessary, Lisa insisted, and then she hurried off to do the jobs.

With everything done and the end of the shift looming, the client asked again for Lisa’s name, which she wrote on his white erase board. The client scribbled a checkmark by Lisa’s name and said, “I like you.” Lisa, a bit stunned but gratified, recalled: “I was there only two hours, but I tried to make the client feel comfortable. If I can help in any way, I will. He needed someone because his wife had to travel, and we were called. He was confused about her return, and I showed him that day on the calendar. I thought that question might come up. I try to review every client’s profile and then get a read on them when I get there. I do it because I love helping them. I wish I could have found this job earlier.”

Franchise owners Jean-Marc and Kris Mira said Lisa personifies all of the Home Instead principles: “Build Trust, Take the Lead and Share Your Heart.”

CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide services to help keep seniors independent. For employment inquiries, call [Phone] or apply online at http://www.homeinstead.com/366/becomeacaregiver/employmentinquiry/Pages/EmploymentInquiry.aspx. For further information, visit www.homeinstead.com/366 or to learn more about services, link to a digital brochure at http://hisc366.digbro.com. Please join our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Home-Instead-Senior-Care-New-Braunfels-TX/375522375796468 and check out our blog at http://newbraunfels.seniorshomecaregivers.com/.