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Collin County (Change Location)

May 22, 2023

Mandy Loves Learning About Her Clients

Care Pro Mandy and her client

A former schoolteacher, Home Instead® Care Professional of the Month Mandy Clayton is learning so many uniquely different things from her clients that it’s almost as if she’s working toward master’s degrees in history, American culture, horticulture, ornithology, culinary arts and other subjects. “My two favorite things in life are good stories and mysteries or puzzles. I love meeting clients and learning about their lives, past and present. I get to hear about homes around the world, loved ones, the way life was 50-plus years ago, joys and sorrows, family traditions, hopes and dreams. Everyone has stories to tell, and I get to hear them,” she said.

For instance, one of Mandy’s clients had a poem published in a magazine when she was a teenager. From that publicity, she ended up with dozens of pen pals. Mandy further explained: “Over the years, the client has faithfully written letters, sent and received photos, and even visited some of her pen pals. Even now she sends Christmas letters and calls or dictates letters to some of those pen pals. They have been friends for 70 years!”

Another client loves to peer out the window while she and Mandy eat. “We have become amateur zoologists, looking up our questions about the birds and squirrels that visit the bird feeder. We have seen rabbits and lizards. We look at the flower beds occasionally, even trimming her rose bush to make it ready for spring. In the fall, we gathered leaves and berries from the yard, and determined the types of each tree. We also boiled the soapberries and tried to make soap. It worked but didn’t smell very good,” Mandy said.

And then for the client, there is the meal preparation. “We have made some of her family recipes. We picked peanut butter bars just for deliciousness and a traditional green Jell-O mold for Thanksgiving. She helps measure and add ingredients, and stirs. I do any heavy lifting, chopping or cooking,” Mandy said. “One of our favorite ways to pass time is to look through old letters and photographs.”

Mandy added: “Then my client tells me about her mother, daddy, brothers and sisters. Or we flip through pictures of high school friends, early jobs, and college boyfriends. Wedding pictures come with stories about making her own wedding dress and proposal details. Then there are baby stories and the kids as they got older. I’ve heard about family trips, graduations, weddings and grandchildren.”

Mandy’s deep interest in people and her desire to get to know them are two of the reasons for her Care Pro of the Month honor at owner Todd Felker’s award-winning Collin County Home Instead franchise in Plano, Texas. “I have spent most of my life taking care of children, my own and other people’s. As a teenager, I babysat and worked with kids at church. I worked for many years as an elementary school teacher,” Mandy said.

One year, Mandy taught a high-level class in which the students needed to practice empathy and care for others. She worked with a nearby senior-care center to arrange a few visits. “I walked my class there for an afternoon of crafting. They also read aloud to the residents. The activities director even brought a busload of seniors to our elementary school for Christmas carols and cookies. I really don’t know who enjoyed the visits more – the kids, the seniors or the teachers who dropped by,” Mandy recalled.

She is in her second stint with Home Instead, this one spanning the past year and a half. Mandy previously had worked for Home Instead about eight years ago before she went back to teaching. “I found out about Home Instead online when I was looking for a job that would let me be more flexible with my schedule for my family. With Home Instead, I am able to work hard during work hours but not take work home with me all the time,” said Mandy, who had family senior caregiving experience before she worked for Home Instead.

“I took care of my grandma on occasion when she started having difficulty doing daily tasks independently. My family would visit her weekly and work together to do whatever Grandma needed for the week, shopping, cooking and cleaning mostly. We would take her out to eat and help her move safely through the restaurant. She was a very determined woman who had raised six kids and outlived her husband by more than 20 years.”

Mandy’s primary goal is always to improve her clients’ quality of life. She pointed out: “Everyone needs something, and if I can find a way to help him or her achieve it or attain it, we all feel better. But first we have to figure out what is needed. I have a standing joke with one client about her weekly hairstyling being our experiment of the week. We want the best curls for the longest amount of time. We have narrowed down our variables – hair length, amount of water in hair, amount of gel, time under the hair dryer, hairspray or no hairspray ... ”

Mandy loves trying new things with her clients. She noted: “It can be easy to get in the rut of a day-to-day routine, especially when you have a hard time doing all the of ‘the have-tos’ in life. Sometimes after getting ready for the day, a client wants only to sit and read or watch TV. But life is more fun if you have something to look forward to. I have convinced clients to take walks outside and just sit on the patio for a change of scenery. We have worn funny hats and jewelry, broken pinatas, gone out for ice cream, played with the pets and taste tested all kinds of treats.”

Home Instead Care Pro Advocate Amanda Ross said Mandy’s innovative ways of keeping clients engaged in life are amazing. Amanda said: “Mandy absolutely has a heart of gold. She always finds a way to connect with each client, no matter if Mandy is taking a fill-in shift or working with one of her regular clients. Mandy knows how to make each client feel special. She is busy being a fulltime wife, mother and Care Pro. Mandy always helps us when she can. We are so thankful and appreciative to have her with our Home Instead family.”

For Mandy, the job results in fulfillment. “The opportunities that Home Instead provides to meet, work with and serve people in a meaningful way have been a great blessing,” she said.

 All Home Instead Care Professionals are screened, trained and insured. For inquiries about employment, please call (972) 744-9898 or apply online. For further information about Home Instead, visit our website.

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