Lorain County, Ohio (Change Location)

Dec 01, 2021

CAREGiver of the Month - December 2021

Written By: Brian Lahm for Home Instead of North Ridgeville
Barbra Bruno CAREGiver of the Month - December 2021

Barbara’s Caregiving Journey Began at Age 10

Ten-year-old Barbara Bruno’s first caregiving experience was an eye-opener. She and her 12-year-old sister helped take care of an aunt, who was struggling during the final stages of cancer and was bedridden. Barbara and her sister were with their aunt in her home until she passed away.

“It touched my heart to go through something like that at such a young age,” said Barbara, an award-winning CAREGiver with Home Instead® of Lorain County, Ohio, in North Ridgeville. “Actually, when I was young, I wanted to be a teacher, not a nurse. I did teach for a little while. I came to realize caregiving is my calling.”

At age 10, Barbara’s family caregiving was just beginning. Her mother had several surgeries, and Barbara helped her through them all. With family caregiving came the heartbreak, which Barbara endured with her strong Christian faith. “My parents are gone, having passed away at 46 and 66 years old. I raised two sons, and they are gone – both within the past five years. I was the third-oldest of seven children. Now it is just myself and the two youngest in our family. I’ve gone through a lot of personal loss,” Barbara said.

“I have to trust God and His grace through all the tragedies and craziness. Some people would be bitter, but that is no way to live. God lets us go through things, which perfects your faith. It’s not always easy, but God has a purpose for our trials and tribulations. My heart goes out to the people who try to live through a tragedy without depending on God’s help.”

Referring to faith implications for her job, Barbara said, “God has given me a heart for this.”

But she never initiates faith issues with clients or their family members. “Nothing is forced. I pray with clients only if they want to do so. They must approach me for such things as Bible reading, faith-based conversations or anything like that. I do want the seniors to know I love them and want the best for them. During private prayers away from the clients’ homes, I ask God to help me not waste the day, and that I do everything possible to help others,” Barbara said. “I know I don’t have all the answers. My favorite Bible verse is Proverbs 3:5: ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.’ ”

She pointed out: “Sometimes all you can do is listen. One client is 85, a widower. His wife died suddenly a year ago. He shares conversations about his wife. He has tears in his eyes. They were married 59 years. Just being able to express himself is helpful. I understand.”

Barbara has served as a CAREGiver with two Home Instead franchises. From 2006 to 2013, she worked for Home Instead’s North Olmsted office, which serves Cleveland and the West Side. It is about six miles from franchise owner Karin Kollar’s Lorain County office, where Barbara has served since October 2020. North Olmstead did not have a CAREGiver of the Month program at the time, but Barbara was rewarded several times for her excellence above and beyond the call of duty. At Lorain County, Barbara was honored as CAREGiver of the Month in December. Between her Home Instead tenures, Barbara worked as a receptionist at an assisted living facility, where she was selected as an employee of the month.

Among her current assignments. Barbara assists a dementia client with physical therapy exercises and companionship, among other things. “I follow cues. He is sharp on some things. If he stares off into space, I try to quietly engage him with conversation. I’ve worked with dementia clients for a long, long time. You get to know them and learn the nuances of helping them,” she said.

Discussing dementia in general, Barbara said: “It is such a strange disease that affects people in a wide variety of ways. Most of my past and current clients have had dementia to some degree. With those clients, you join them on their journeys and enter their worlds, and I have loved that part of my job. I have tried to educate the CAREGivers with whom I have worked so they can become more comfortable and skilled at working with dementia clients.”

Barbara added: “You don’t want to frustrate someone who has dementia. You try to improve their quality of life. I wish everyone would understand how dementia affects people. Some people, even family members, mistakenly think it is an act.”

Barbara has made a lasting impact in her job and wants to continue. The daughter of one of her North Olmsted clients still sends her Christmas cards. “Clients are like family. I am grateful for the chance to take care of them like family and love on them. I’ll try to do this work until the Lord takes me home,” she said.

All Home Instead CAREGivers are screened, trained, bonded and insured. For inquiries about employment, please call (440) 353-3080 or apply online. For further information about Home Instead, visit our website.

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