Can you tell me a little about yourself and how you got into caregiving?
My name is Virginia. I live in Rohnert Park, California, and I've been a caregiver for over ten years. I started as a driver for a man we call the King of Penngrove, basically found in Penngrove, California. One day I went to visit him on my day off, and I had a key, and he was lying on the floor. So I called 911, and from that day he never wanted me to leave his side again so he asked me to move in. I didn't move in. I kept my own house, but I did seven days, 12-hour shifts. At the end of his life, they brought in hospice, and then I was inspired to do hospice. So when he passed away, I went to CNA school and home health school, and then went straight to hospice.
Who is one of your most memorable clients?
First person that comes to my mind is George, the Kind of Penngrove, the person I just mentioned, because he was awesome. He didn't care. His motto was "Doesn't matter if you have $5 or $5 million, I'm going to treat you the same." Rancher, he was a rancher. Ranchers came to him for advice, stockbrokers came to him for advice, and he was just a solid man. There was no facade there. Some people had Google. I had George. He knew everything. So it's George, of course. I think about him every day. And my second person that I would think about would be this tough Texas gal. She was from Texas, and she was poor as dirt, and she had the hardest life that you've ever heard of. She wouldn't eat, she only weighed 60 pounds, so the nurse would let me take her cheeseburgers even though we weren't supposed to. So I think of her because of how humble she was and how appreciative she was just for the slightest care. So those are my two favorites.
What piece of advice would you give to a new caregiver?
If I could give one piece of advice it would be to go to CNA school and to home health aide school as well because the training-- yes, your heart may be in it and you might just have the best heart in the world, but there're skills that you need that they can teach you, just to make your life simpler and make the patient's life simpler. Transfer skills, bathing skills. Just everything. I just think if your heart-- if you really love caregiving, you should follow through and keep going to school.
What is your proudest moment as a caregiver?
What I'm most proud of as a caregiver is the work that I do. I feel that my attention to detail is like nobody else's. I feel that I have a strong work ethic, old-fashioned. I notice the little things that most other people don't. That's what I like to look for, those little things. And I like to work as a team. I like to report all changes in condition, and I feel like I'm really good at reporting and communicating as a team.