Like so many of our caregivers, Astridah Nyambe’s first exposure to caregiving came through caring for her own family elders. When she was a teenager in Zambia her grandmother had a stroke and Astridah shared caregiving duties with other members of her family. She found that she liked helping others and when the time came, she decided to go to nursing school. Along the way, though she changed her mind, and her career direction. She worked for a bank for three years and got married. Her husband was also in banking and when he had business trips to the United States, Astridah went with him. That’s how she first came to visit Washington State.
Eighteen years ago, Astridah moved away from Africa and settled in Georgia. She worked as a caregiver and raised her son. But four years ago, she was ready for a change. “I knew I liked Washington and so I decided to move here. I had heard about Family Resource when I visited in 2009. I arrived here on a Sunday and called their job line. On Monday someone called back and asked me to come in for an interview. On Tuesday there was orientation and on Wednesday I got my first client.”
Astridah works out of the Bellevue office and has had the same client for the last three years. Up until last week, she did live-in but now she works 12-hour daytime shifts, three days a week. “My client has a very strong character,” says Astridah, “and when he does not want to do something, he tells me. I have to find ways to get him to do what is necessary that still makes him feel respected. For example, I will tell him that the doctor wants me to weigh him. That makes him have to get up and walk downstairs. That way I get him to walk and have some exercise. Before I was working with him he would stay in his room all day and not get dressed. Now he lets me keep him looking good and we talk and joke and get along well,” she said.
Astridah believes that people should strive to be excellent in whatever it is they are doing. She says that caregivers should not only be caring but they must see that everyday something good comes from their work. “Caregivers have to really pay attention to what their client says, and you can’t get tired of answering their questions. My client has dementia and he is always asking “what am I doing here?” Astridah understands that her client is confused and frustrated and maybe even a little frightened, and she always responds in a calm voice reassuring him that he is where he is supposed to be, that this is where he lives.
Astridah is happy to have found work with Family Resource and appreciates the company’s generous policies that allow her to take time off when she needs it. “Right now, I am planning my sister’s wedding. She is getting married in Georgia next week and my other sister and brother are coming from Zambia for the wedding,” she explained. “Family Resource is a very good company and they always keep me busy. I did part-time work for another agency in Washington and I think Family Resource is one of the best home care agencies. The job gives me what I need; I was able to buy my own home and make a good life here in Washington.”