Can you tell me a little about yourself and how you got into caregiving?
My name is Blanche. I live in Moraga, California, and I've been a caregiver for over 25 years. I became a caregiver because I'm very compassionate, and I like to help people. I like all kinds of people. I realized there were physically disabled people that needed assistance, and I was willing to assist them. I started doing that work, and it was kind of like a fluke, and I loved it. So I stuck with it.
Who is one of your most memorable clients?
Of all the people I've cared for, the first person that comes to mind is my very first client. He was a student at Bolt, he was paraquad. I worked for him for nine months at 7 AM, and then I came back in the evening at 10. After nine months, I'm like, "Nope. This is enough." I was his very first caregiver. We worked together for the four years he was at Bolt. What I admired most about him was his determination and his rigid schedule. He was a law student, and he studied continuously. What I recall is he said to me - I don't know if I should say this or not, but I'm going to - "I'm not going to become a fat quad. Because quadriplegics become fat, and I'm not going to." He ate very little, and he stayed thin. He used a manual chair and exercised.
What piece of advice would you give to a new caregiver?
What is your proudest moment as a caregiver?
One piece of advice for a new caregiver is to listen and respect what your client is saying. Keep the line of communication fresh. If they have a speech impairment or you have difficulty understanding them, take the time, because communication is what your relationship is all about.
My most proud moment as a caregiver is I had a client who was bedridden, blind, and in diapers, and he was a younger man. For his birthday, I brought him a gardenia, and I made him a card. It was 3-D. He appreciated that so much, and he started crying. He was just so grateful for that.