Rahshima Embraced Caregiving as a 13-Year-Old
Care Professional of the Month Rahshima Harlem’s senior-care journey began as a 13-year-old who helped take care of her great-grandmother. Rahshima loves where her life’s passion has taken her. Referring to Home Instead® of Philadelphia and franchise owner Steve Levin, Rahshima said: “I love what I do. I truly love Home Instead, and Steve is a huge reason.”
“In the midst of the COVD-19 pandemic, there was a short period of civil unrest in the city. On one day, Steve got in his car, and picked us Care Professionals up from our clients’ homes and got us to our own homes safely. He did this without reservation or concern for his own health and safety. That was impressive to me and the other Care Pros. He’s a great man, and I adore him. There’s no question that he wanted to do the right thing. Steve is very good, and I really like the office staff,” said Rahshima, who joined the award-winning franchise four years ago.
Rahshima has never forgotten her great-grandmother or wavered from her spiritual beliefs. “I am faith-based, and that aspect of my life has had a bearing on my occupation. As a result of my family-caregiving experience, I decided I wanted to go into health care,” she said.
Barely a teenager, Rahshima was among the first family members to realize something was “a little off” with her great-grandmother, who had previously overcome breast cancer and a stroke. “I recognized that my great-grandmother had dementia. I researched symptoms, and looked up the behaviors and tried to figure out what to do to help her. She was easygoing and recognized me. Sometimes I slept in her room when I knew it would provide comfort,” Rahshima said.
“The problem was, she had good mobility. Once, when I went to her apartment to stay with her overnight, she surprised me by getting up at 1 a.m. and wanting to go get fish sandwiches. She told me, ‘get dressed, we’re going for sandwiches.’ We did it a couple of times, and it kind of alarmed me. Finally, I persuaded her to stay home. My mother lived down the street from her. When my great-grandmother wanted to go out for sandwiches another time, I said, ‘Let’s walk down to Mom’s house.’ After that, our family got together to talk about my great-grandmother’s care. As her dementia worsened, my great-aunt took her in, then she came to our home. Finally, my great-aunt found a skilled nursing home for her. My great-grandmother loved me, and I have very good memories of her. Sadly, she passed away on her birthday at age 87.”
Rahshima added: “I became a CNA as I went into health care in my 20s. Among those experiences, I was a private-duty caregiver for three years with a family who needed help with a senior loved one. Then I took off time to raise a family,” she explained. “When I applied at Home Instead, I was nervous. I had two options for Home Instead employment, Steve’s downtown office and another in Germantown (Lafayette Hill). In terms of traveling distance for me, Steve’s office was a better option.”
At Home Instead, one of Rahshima’s clients was isolated at a senior-care community because it was believed she had COVID-19. Rahshima explained: “She might have had a few of the
symptoms, but I don’t believe my client ever had COVID-19 because despite numerous COVID-19 tests, the tests always came back negative. I never got COVID-19 in any instance, whether it was with her or not. For a while, I was her only Care Pro. Eventually, another Care Pro was scheduled in, and we provided the coverage with our shifts. Not including her family, we virtually were all that she had for human contact. As I remained steadfastly with her, I thought it went beautifully. I felt blessed to help her and felt blessed for the reason that I never got COVID-19. I was with her for two years and enjoyed it. Her smile lit up a room.”
Eventually, the client passed away in September 2021.“She got sick and went from the hospital to hospice in one month. They made her comfortable at hospice. and I visited her there,” Rahshima said. “Her son and daughter-in-law were awesome. They stayed in close contact. I saw the unity of their family and the love they had for each other, and it made me happy.”
At the client’s memorial service, Rahshima and her fellow Care Pros were called on to share stories about our late client. “One wonderful moment was when she got to meet her great-grandchild. There were no dry eyes. It was a beautiful thing. I really, truly loved her and her family,” said Rahshima, who said there have been an abundance of other uplifting client stories during her time with Home Instead.
One client, who had early-stage dementia, loved to play Scrabble and hated to lose. Their Scrabble games were competitive because the client welcomed the challenge. Rahshima chuckled when she said: “We would refer to the dictionary for a few of her words. Sometimes she had an obscure word, and sometimes it wasn’t a word. We always had a good laugh.”
Another client taught Rahshima how to play rummy. “I wanted to join in the rummy games to please the client. Her care-community residents would play rummy with us. The beauty of it all is that if the client is interested in anything, that client probably will want to teach you how to do it, and I am all in on that. It is a good way to bond with the client,” she said.
Rahshima recalled, “One client made such a beautiful impression on me because she was not frustrated and fighting against the challenges of dementia. She was compensating by asking for help. The only client for whom I prayed – because she asked – felt a sense of calm after I finished her prayer request. I was filling in for another Care Pro, and it made my day to see the spiritual impact. All of those experiences will never leave me.”
All Home Instead Care Professionals are screened, trained and insured. For inquiries about employment, please call (215) 925-4610 or apply online. For further information about Home Instead, visit our website.