Her title is caregiver. But some days, Jan wonders who benefits more from her hours at work – herself or her client.
“I consider this job a blessing. These people are a blessing to me,” said Jan, Home Helpers of Hinsdale’s choice for Caregiver of the Quarter.
Jan came to Home Helpers Home Care of Hinsdale just over a year ago. After many years working as an activities director at a nursing home and then a retirement community, she decided it was time to step back from the job’s long hours and physical demands. But she wasn’t ready to abandon her passion for working with seniors.
“I had a conversation with a neighbor, who was working for Home Helpers. I thought, that would be perfect for me.”
Jan spent her first year with Home Helpers of Hinsdale caring for a 97-year-old woman who died just a month ago. The two had become so close, Jan was asked to speak at the woman’s services.
“She was just a wonderful joy,” Jan said of her client.
Now, Jan spends her days with an 87-year-old woman whose spirit, Jan said, brings her joy every day.
“She loves to play cards. When I suggest a game of rummy, her face just lights up,” Jan said.
Jan’s background as activities director helps her keep clients busy and entertained. She and her client spend time coloring, creating craft projects and baking. It’s good for both of them, Jan said.
She also prepares meals, cleans up around the house and helps with activities of daily living, but Jan said the most important part of her job is to make every day special.
“If I can enhance their life, then I know I’m doing my job,” she said.
Her job as activity director didn’t require things like showering and toileting, but Jan had a willingness to learn. The experts at Home Helpers trained her for these tasks, and she knows those same experts are there to offer help or advice whenever it is needed.
“Whenever I have a question or a need, Michelle is right there to help,” Jan said.
Care Manager Michelle Pantoja, CNA, said Jan is exactly what Home Helpers looks for in the people chosen to care for the company’s clients.
“She always is grinning from ear to ear. Her excitement for what she is doing is evident every day, and it’s infectious,” Pantoja said.
Jan’s positive attitude and genuine passion for caregiving comes through in her work, Pantoja said, making her the right choice for Caregiver of the Quarter.