Hi, my name is Jonathan. I live in Whittier, CA and I have 2 1/2 years of experience as a caregiver.
How did you get into caregiving?
I became a caregiver because I was living in a community house with a gentleman in Santa Barbara and he was the owner of a caregiving agency and I gave him a backrub and he said, "You know, you seem like a caring individual and I have a job opening." So I took the job, I just filled in and found that I really enjoyed the work and enjoyed the clients-- just enjoyed relating with them and seeing life through their eyes and the work came natural to me and was energizing work for me. So I have been doing it ever since.
What advice would you provide to a new caregiver?
My advice to a new caregiver would be first to communicate, and communicate, and communicate with the person as much as they are willing and with the family, and with the nurses, and with the agency that you work for, and with the doctors, and do not trust yourself fully but always seek other perspectives on how to give that person better care. And, of course, always ask questions. And secondly I would advise a new caregiver to take notes and to review those notes at the beginning of every shift and update them at the end of every shift and so that over time you build a system that provides that person it's an increasingly more thorough care. Third, I would say take time every shift to sit patiently and offer that person a conversation. And in particular, offer that person your attention, your ear. Offer yourself as a listener because although you're there primarily to serve their physical needs it's really important to remember that they have social needs and emotional, intellectual, and spiritual needs as well. And a conversation serves all those purposes and all those needs are interconnected. And so in offering that person that human connection you are serving their physical needs and you're taking your role as a caregiver more seriously and your care for that person, your love for that person to the next level.
Who is one of your most memorable clients?
The client I'll never forget is Lynne, and Lynne was receiving hospice care. And she had been agitated and awake for five days and nurses were coming and going and trying different medicines and techniques and we were all just getting frustrated and confused, especially Lynne. And at the end of those five days, I came in in the morning, and she was just full of fear and paranoid about us trying to harm her. Yeah, and it was not looking good. And the nurses were saying she might pass away within the next few days. So it suddenly came to me to ask her what was heavy on her heart and so I knelt down and asked her that. And she said, "I'm really angry with my family." And so she was a Christian, and she and I prayed, and she forgave them. And then she fell asleep for two days and woke up and made a remarkable comeback. I'll never forget her for that episode.