Lorain County, Ohio (Change Location)

Dec 10, 2021

CAREGiver of the Year 2021

Written By: Brian Lahm for Home Instead of North Ridgeville
Carlene Butler CGOTY 2021 COMP

Carlene Helped Client ‘Find Her Prayer’

While Home Instead® CAREGiver of the Year Carlene Butler was assisting her client, Carlene noticed the client’s wife “was not her usual self.” Her infectious smile and frequent laughter were absent, and she sometimes appeared stoic, perhaps even confused. Carlene said, “I knew something was wrong.”

Carlene knew she couldn’t let it slide by. Her intuition, wisdom and experience prompted her to speak up. “My client’s wife sought a medical analysis, but apparently no one could figure out what was wrong,” Carlene said. With the alarm having been sounded, CAREGivers were keeping an eye out. “It turns out the client’s wife was suffering mini-strokes. A CAREGiver was there when she suffered one. She was lucid one moment and ‘out of it’ in the next moment,” Carlene recalled.

Carlene was ready for what followed. “It was challenging to take care of both of them, but I did it,” said Carlene, who had been with the couple – primarily to help the husband at first – for more than a year. Sadly, after the most serious stroke, the wife passed away a month later. But Carlene, a compassionate, faith-based person, did everything she could, including offering spiritual comfort when the situation called for it.

“One day,” Carlene said, “she looked at me and said, ‘I lost my prayer. Could you help me get it back?’ I could see what she meant was that she was feeling far away from the Lord. I said, ‘Yes,’ and we prayed together. A day and a half later, she died. It was a hurting moment for me – for all of us. Her husband thought he would die before his wife.”

An observer said: “The clients and their families value Carlene, and it’s easy to see why that is true.” Folks at Home Instead of Lorain County, including franchise owner Karin Kollar and Human Resources Manager Janelle Ortiz, have observed Carlene’s terrific care since she joined the award-winning office in November 2016. Janelle said, “Carlene is a very dedicated CAREGiver.”

Working for Home Instead was not Carlene’s first professional senior care job. At age 21, she took State Tested Nurse Aide classes. “This is the kind of work I thought I wanted to do, although I did not achieve certification. I had a client for a while as a private-duty caregiver. But I also like to cook, and I am good at it. I had an opportunity to be a chef, so I took it. I’ve worked as a chef in restaurants, hotels, universities and a hospital,” explained Carlene, who also served as a family caregiver for her godmother for a while. “Her arthritis is super bad, so I received experience with dealing with that malady.”

The bottom line for Carlene is this: “I enjoy helping people. It is fulfilling. That’s why I am in this job.” She added: “I have five to six clients. I respect every one of them. They all have different needs and unique challenges. Take dementia, for instance. They just can’t quite remember names, but they generally never forget a face or a voice. They are forgetful, but they can recall certain things that would surprise you. You just handle the challenges as they come.”

One of Carlene’s first clients five years ago presented an unusual “stop-and-go” challenge. The retired college professor enjoyed chatting with Carlene and other CAREGivers, but he also had an independent bent and unexpectedly decided one day to drop the service.

Carlene picked up the story from there: “He changed his mind and resumed service, and I came back to help him. I felt the Lord brought him back. When I had helped him the first time, he looked healthier. When I began helping for the second time, I noticed he had lost weight. Things went downhill. I was with him when he drew his last breath.”

Carlene was important to the client as his life drew to a close because he lived alone. Both of his sons and their families lived out of state. “At the end, it was just the hospice nurse and myself. He wasn’t able to speak at the end, but he was hanging onto my hand. He died at age 78. He was a nice guy. I later got to meet his family and some of his former students,” Carlene said.

Referring to the loss of a client, Carlene said: “That is where my faith comes in. I know that death is not apart from God. With clients, two things eventually happen: They die or move to skilled nursing because the medical challenges are overwhelming. Losing a client is tough, but God gives me strength. That’s my steadfast belief.”

Carlene added: “Sometimes it is difficult emotionally when you reach the end point with a client. They were like family. But I want to emphasize I am not worn down. I want to keep doing this as long as I can. I pray and get my energy from Scripture. I also talk to my pastor. I have a great group of Bible study sisters. In Psalm 46:10, God says, ‘Be still and know that I am God.’ Nothing happens apart from God, even COVID-19, because He is in control.”

Carlene also praised Home Instead for its support.

“In just about every line of work, many other companies are known for using up their workers and throwing them away. Our Home Instead office is so awesome, such a great company. Our office lets us know they value us CAREGivers. During my 53 years on this Earth, I’ve worked at a lot of places, and no employer is more awesome. The lines of communication are awesome. Home Instead is flexible with employees’ tragedies. I recently had a family death come up, and Home Instead told me to ‘go take care of my family.’ In October 2020, I was in a serious accident. Home Instead checked on me and sent me flowers. They were accommodating. My clients missed me. I did not want to disrupt their lives. I got back as fast as I could because the clients wonder and worry. They trust you.”

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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