Can you tell me a little about yourself and how you got into caregiving?
My name is Tanya Batte, I live in Oakland, and I’m an earth mother. I got into caregiving in my own family for many years. I was the principal caregiver for my sister for 27 years, I took care of my uncle, I took care of my mother before she left, and then I have taken care of paying patients as well.
Who is the first client that comes to your mind?
My favorite client was probably my sister. She had down syndrome and she came to live with me when she was 15 years old and she was really not trained well, because she lived back east where they did not understand down syndrome for a long time. So when I got her she was raw. With the schools, and myself, and the doctors, and the psychiatrist - within about 5 years we had her in school and learning. We watched her turn completely around. That was my favorite patient, although I must say that was my hardest patient.
What piece of advice would you give to a new caregiver?
You have to learn to be patient, you have to learn that maybe we can’t do things in a specific way. We have to learn how to do it the way that works best for the patient. So, if I were to say what is the best thing I’ve learned from a patient or many patients, it is to be patient and not be afraid of change. Advice I would give a new caregiver is to slow down. Sometimes we are in such a hurry to help that we move too fast. You know you have to learn what your client needs, you have to learn what works for them. A lot of times, especially with older frail people, or people who have some problem with understanding and memory, you have to be gentle and you have to slow down and not overwhelm them. So you have to slow down, and learn your client when you first get with them.