Sarah Zopf caregiver caregiversThree months ago, Sarah Zopf enrolled in Shoreline Community College’s full-time nursing program, but that has barely slowed down her caregiving work. Once the lead caregiver in FRHC’s Bellevue office, Sarah is continuing to work with two clients, one of whom is a man in his 40’s who became paraplegic following an accident. She also continues to serve as a “float” filling shifts as needed, much as she did as lead caregiver. “I loved being lead caregiver,” said Sarah. “I liked the variety, and because there was no set schedule, the job really kept me on my toes.” To help new clients feel comfortable with her, Sarah says she always asks the client about their routine and how they want things done. She believes that the elderly need to feel that they are making decisions and still have control over their own lives. Plus, “I’m a naturally upbeat person,” said Sarah, “and I find that if I am comfortable, the client is more likely to be comfortable as well.”

In 2011, Sarah moved to Seattle from a small town in Minnesota with her high school sweetheart. She had previously worked in a rehabilitation center and received specialized training that prepared her to work with individuals with paraplegia. When she arrived in Seattle she interviewed at several agencies, and happily for us, accepted the offer from FRHC. Because of her previous experience, she was assigned two clients, both with paraplegia. “Working in a person’s home is very different than working in a rehab center,” said Sarah. “In a private home you may not have things like wide hallways, grab bars in the bathroom and adjustable hospital beds. But I’ve found that through communication and good techniques I can successfully work with my clients. The most important thing is to take your time and make sure you are positioned correctly. I’m only 5’1 and 100 pounds on a good day. I’ve worked with patients who are 3 or 4 times my weight, but by communicating with the person you’re trying to help and using good techniques, I believe that anyone can take care of anybody regardless of size.”

Sarah loves working with seniors and while she is thinking of specializing in oncology in her nursing program, she says she would not be surprised if she ends up in geriatrics. “Every day the elderly have so much time and not so much to do. I want to have a positive impact on their lives,” says Sarah. “I want to be a life source for them.”

Sarah is very happy she accepted FRHC’s job offer. “They treat their caregivers with respect and understanding,” she says. “They want to keep us happy. Plus the people in the office are so supportive. Whether I have a caregiving question or I get lost driving to a new client, they’re always there for me.”