Elle Harrington earned her first CAREGiver of the Month award in August 2013. Eight years and two months later, Elle again was honored by the Home Instead® franchise of Boulder, Broomfield and northwest Adams Counties.
A lot has changed since Elle joined Home Instead in late February 2013. She left Home Instead in 2015 to take a job outside of senior care. Then Michael Lammers took over the franchise ownership from Dean Price. Later, the Home Instead office moved 3½ miles southwest from Lafayette to Louisville. Office staff positions went through extensive changes, with the notable exceptions of Office Coordinator Joan Donaldson and Office Administrator Dana Ramos.
As Elle’s job was running its four-year course in 2019, she pondered what to do next. Word got out about her impending job search, and the news traveled fast. Joan, a CAREGiver and later the staff coordinator when Elle was with Home Instead, let it be known she’d love to have Elle come back. As a result, she rejoined Home Instead in May 2019.
“Joan had paid me a high compliment that enticed me to come back. I thought, ‘Let’s give it a go.’ It has been fantastic. There were good people in their office in my first stint with Home Instead, and most of them were gone – but not Joan – when I returned,” Elle said.
“This current staff, including Mike, our owner, is really top-notch. I love them. If I need something or have a question, they are quick and decisive. They provide good support, and my client matches are good. I receive good feedback. That is very important.”
Elle added: “Mike listens and is supportive of his CAREGivers. With COVID-19, he was upfront with the challenges and what we needed to do. Mike had a good handle on it. It is no surprise his office is among the Top 10 in the Home Instead network (that includes nearly 700 U.S. franchises). It’s a big deal, but he is humble and will not toot his horn. During a zoom call with Mike and other CAREGivers, I brought it up because it is something to be proud of. When the opportunity appropriately presents itself during an impromptu chat about our Home Instead office with new clients, I broach the subject of our franchise’s Top 10 ranking in the franchise network.”
Evaluating her second tenure with Home Instead, Elle said: “I think I am a better CAREGiver. Things have fallen in place and are rocking and rolling with the clients. The assistance, such as meal preparation and companionship, is going well and I feel the fulfillment. When I interviewed, I requested overnight hours so my shifts would be consistent. I’ve always felt it’s my job to: One, listen closely to the clients and learn how they can be helped. Two, understand their care regimen. Three, make their day better. Those things come naturally.”
Another thing that comes naturally is building lasting memories. One memorable client was a woman from Broomfield who has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. “We are the same age, 76, and got along great,” Elle added. “We agreed if we’d met 30 years ago, we’d have been great friends and would’ve remained so.”
Elle added: “We kidded each other a lot. One day when her daughter and son-in-law were there, the client and I sharply joked with each other with straight faces. I told the client, ‘I really don’t like you.’ She smiled and kiddingly said the same thing about me. Then the farce was up when I explained how successful she was at maintaining Christmas cacti, which I have never been able to do. I told her, ‘I am jealous of you.’ We were good buddies. Then she went to skilled nursing, and I miss her,” Elle said.
Since the end of May, Elle has helped a couple, who are 24-7 clients. “Our camaraderie is good. They are a very social couple who traveled all over the world for his job and have wonderful stories. Since I am 76 and they are 77, we have many commonalities. I really like them. They are friendly and welcoming,” Elle said.
She fills in for others on their CAREGiver team if one of them cannot make a shift. That way, the couple doesn’t have to explain their care plan to a new CAREGiver. “They already are under stress because of their health situation. It’s important to keep the care continuity,” Elle said.
The CAREGiver position and hours fit Elle well. “I want to keep doing this. I have to be busy. I have my art. When I have the opportunity to do so, I paint,” she said. In addition to feeling the fulfillment of helping seniors and building relationships with clients and her Home Instead staff and management, Elle talked about other pluses of the job.
- “I like the three days and 36 hours a week. It’s right for me, including the overnights.”
- “The pay. Retirement’s a new world, and pay is important. It provides flexibility to work three days. I’m there when the clients need me; I have good time away from the job.”
- “My job helps me stay upbeat and positive even if the client is not. They don’t have to smile for me to see they are OK. I can tell if they aren’t well. I try to help.”
- “Affirmation is good. I was overwhelmed to receive the CAREGiver award. I am sure my clients’ words are the reasons. That is affirmation that I’m doing well for them.”
Adding to Elle’s client affirmation, Recruitment and Engagement Coordinator Rianne Matthews said: “Elle is caring and attentive with her seniors, earning an extraordinary loyalty from the people she serves. Elle treats her clients with the devotion you’d expect of someone caring for her own beloved family members. What a beautiful relationship she has with this special couple, and what an excellent impact Elle has on their family! I am thankful for the amazing hearts of our Home Instead CAREGivers.”
All Home Instead CAREGivers are screened, trained, bonded and insured. For inquiries about employment, please call (720) 890-0184 or apply online. For further information about Home Instead, visit our website.