Hi my name is Andre, I live in Los Angeles, CA. I have more than 10 years experience as a caregiver.
How did you get into caregiving?
I became a caregiver because I moved out to California to pursue acting, and I didn't want to get a meaningless job. I didn't want a job where I was waiting tables or doing those type of things. I wanted to do something where I felt like I made a difference. I started off working with abandoned, abused, neglected children, 6-13. After three or four years of that, I went from 13 to 18, and then 18 to 21, and after about six to, I guess, eight years of that, my grandmother passed and she was someone that I looked up to. She raised me. She was in Chicago and I was out here. The entire time she was sick, I noticed that she didn't get the care that she needed and deserved, to put it bluntly, and I started wondering about other people. She eventually passed, and I decided to move into assisted living.
What advice would you provide to a new caregiver?
The advice that I would give to a new caregiver would be to pay attention to the details of your client. What do they like? Do they like to talk? Are they quiet? Do they like to laugh? You want to get to know these people as if you're getting to know a new friend. For example, I wake someone up every day by scratching her back because I know that's what she loves and know that's how you can really get her up and get her going. And that's just paying attention. And one of the things she asks me is, "Do you do this for every person?" And I'm always quick to let her know, "No. I do it for you because I know that you like this. Everyone else is different." The quality of care, you should take pride in it. If a resident lives in a certain space, whenever someone goes into that space, it should be pristine, nothing out of place. I mean, if you can help it. But garbage emptied, clothes folded and put away, dishes clean. If they have a pet, make sure that their pet is fed twice a day. To be honest, take two or three minutes out and give that pet some love. It's something that they can't do. You're there to do the things that they can't do.
Who is one of your most memorable clients?
A client that I will never forget is Jake. He was a World War II pilot and doctor. He was a very serious man, and he had son who, of course, he raised as a very serious man. Jake lived in assisted living, and his son would call every day, "Did you wake him up at this certain time? Did you feed him? Did you give him water? Did you give him a shower?" Now, Jake hated all of those things I just mentioned. All he wanted to do was lay in the bed all day long and just sleep, sleep, sleep, sleep, sleep. Not only did he hate that, he didn't like strangers to come into his room. In fact, the first thing he said when I walked into his room, the very first thing he said when he saw me was, "Ahh. Why are you so big? Get out of here." I'm 6'3, 230 pounds, and I just kind of laughed, and I left the room, of course. But then I came back and I said, "Okay, sir. It's time to get up. It's time to go get breakfast." And I noticed how everything was like it probably was 50 years ago, 70 years ago. I mean, it was in order. The shoes were all pointed a certain way and all of these things. So I made sure that I did everything the way that he wanted.