This month’s Platinum Caregiver Award goes to Andrea Jenkins from our Cascade region. Andrea calls herself a “natural homemaker.” She loves being at home, caring for a home and for those in it. “That may be one of the reasons I was drawn to caregiving nearly twenty-two years ago,” she says. We’re fortunate that she was!
“We have always said that we hire the cream of the crop and Andrea is just that,” said Alysha Olson, Cascade Regional Manager. “Being a caregiver isn’t just a job for her. She forms a special relationship with her clients and when she cares for them, she makes a true commitment. She is willing to help out with fill-in shifts and has even been known to take time on her day off to see that her client and any new caregivers are comfortable and doing well together. She is flexible and good-natured when we ask her to rearrange her schedule to accommodate her client’s needs. Plus, her communication with the office is outstanding. Her reports are thorough and informative which allows us to have ongoing knowledge of her client’s condition. She’s also a great coach and mentor for her caregiver peers and it is a blessing to have her as a part of our team.”
Andrea is originally from a small town in Illinois where she got her caregiving start. After working in IL for twenty years she relocated to WA State where her mother and sisters had moved. Naturally she looked for a caregiving job and was quickly hired by Cascade In-Home Care, which is now part of Family Resource Home Care. That was almost two years ago. “This is a great company,” says Andrea. “There’s a lot of flexibility.”
Today Andrea has one client with whom she works three 12-hour shifts each week; and that’s just how she likes it. “I love the routine,” she says. “I like knowing where I’m going to be and what I’ll be doing each day. And it helps me to get to know my client.” Andrea has been with her client since early this year. “He’s a nice man,” she said, “and he’s very humble, so he doesn’t like to talk about himself. Once I asked him ‘What did you do for a living?’ and he answered, ‘As little as possible!’” In addition to having a good sense of humor, Andrea’s 96-year-old client is taking piano lessons! “He loves music,” says Andrea.
Andrea makes a terrific first impression on her clients. Once when she worked a fill-in shift the client called the next day to ask if Andrea could continue as her caregiver. She wasn’t available and the client said that they wished they could make a copy of her because she is so amazing they want her every day!
Andrea is often placed with clients who require advanced skills. “I have a homemaker certificate from IL but my real training comes from over twenty years of experience. In the 1980’s, when I started doing caregiving, I worked with younger people with head or spinal cord injuries. My clients knew what they needed, and they trained me,” says Andrea. “Even today I use the skills I learned all those years ago.”
Being a caregiver is a job that comes naturally to Andrea, and she recognizes the importance of the role she plays in another’s life. “My mission is to care for a person and help them know that they are not a burden. I let my clients know that I want to be there.” Andrea continued by describing what she believes makes a good caregiver. “You need to be observant so you can see what your client wants. Everyone is different. One client may want to be mothered, but another client may want to be left alone.” Andrea explained that observing leads to understanding. When a client sees that the caregiver understands what they want and need, trust can develop. “I always let my clients know that I am comfortable doing whatever they need. That helps them become comfortable and trust me. But that’s not all. You also need to be observant to see what a client’s family wants,” continued Andrea. “Most families just want to know that their loved one is safe and well-cared for. Caregiving isn’t a hard job,” she concludes. “It’s not for everyone, but it is the right job for me.”