As Director of Medical Services, part of Tina Figueroa’s job is to supervise and even educate Home Helpers caregivers about how to best care for their clients. But in the case of Caregiver of the Quarter Phiona, it’s Figueroa who is doing the learning.
“Her attitude is amazing,” said Figueroa, who said she admires Phiona’s ability to balance incredible patience with just the right amount of authority.
Several caregivers had come and gone before Phiona came into her client’s life. That was more than three years ago. She spends four 24-hour days each week with her client, who suffers from dementia and several physical problems.
Phiona said she strives to treat her client not only as the person she is today, but as the person she once was.
“This is a once-independent woman who now must rely on someone else all day, every day,” she said. “You have to put yourself in her shoes.”
Sometimes, getting her client to do the things she needs to do takes a bit of creativity.
“You have to market what you think is right,” Phiona said. To that end, she’s come to know her audience well. When Phiona suggests walking, for instance, she often gets a negative response. But a trip to the mall, which involves a fair amount of exercise, is often a welcome option.
“I know her body language,” Phiona said, which allows her to stay “one step ahead” of her client and to anticipate what might be coming next.
Things aren’t always easy, but with the right balance of patience, creativity and perseverance, Phiona usually succeeds.
“Somehow, Phiona can come up with different ways to get her to bathe, to get her to agree to do things,” said the daughter of Phiona’s client.
Life is better with Phiona, not just for the client herself, but for the client’s family.
“When Phiona is at the house, I’m able to sleep at night,” the client’s daughter said. The parent of two small children, she said having Phiona there to care for her mother allows her to be a mother herself.
Figueroa said no matter how difficult things get, Phiona always has a smile on her face. The reason, Phiona said, is simple.
“I enjoy making someone else happier,” she said.