It’s the Little things

photo ALICE

I can’t believe I’ve only been on this job for two weeks. I unlocked the door to my client’s house, turned on the three lamps in the living room and started the coffee. Already, parts of the routine are becoming muscle memory. Its funny how at home I feel.

Much to my surprise, I am thoroughly enjoying private care. I thought the pace would be too slow. I thought I would be bored. Instead, what I have found is a whole new dynamic to caregiving.

Working independently for families has its challenges. In a facility, it is all about the residents. Meal times were set, showers were assigned and family members were people to greet in passing as I rushed to complete my daily routine. With 32 residents needing care, my interactions with their families were limited by time constraints.

Its flip flopped in private care. The families are inviting me into their home. They are trusting me, not only with the care of their loved one, but also with their house. They are trusting that I will be able to implement a routine that will consistently run smoothly for all involved, that will encourage and stimulate the well-being and quality of life for my client and her family while maintaining professional safety standards. The high level of enthusiasm just comes with the package. That is the sum and substance of my job description. While my client will always be my primary focus, the family plays a much bigger role in accomplishing this in private care.

I plan and cook meals for her family, making certain that there are left overs in case her daughter comes over. It’s a simple task and in doing it my client gets the peace of mind in knowing her daughter will eat and she gets to eat dinner at the table with her husband just like she did when she was physically well.

It’s those moments that bring her the most peace. Mentally, she is sharp as a tack and she has adapted with courage to a life that was dramatically altered in an instant. Dinner with her husband, enjoying a big bowl of ice cream, getting her hair done; these simple tasks bring her such joy because they are the same things she did when she was well. They are about who she is as a PERSON not who she is as a stroke victim.

That is the one thing that is the same in a facility and out; people seem to see the age and disorder instead of the person. As caregivers, we are uniquely qualified to fight this. The very nature of our work is dependent on knowing those in our care. In private care, I am given the opportunity to gently remind those around us that their loved one is more than her doctors’ appointments and obligations. She is a person first and foremost. We do this not with words but with actions. Inside jokes, little compliments, asking cooking advice, simply listening; there are countless ways to let someone know that they matter. Imagine what it could be like if all the caregivers applied the lessons we learn on the job in our daily lives. There would be far less people who feel invisible in this world.


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