Jennifer Alcantar had worked with seniors before, both as a caregiver and in management at a retirement home. Her long-range plan was to earn her nursing degree but she was only able to attend school off and on while working multiple jobs to support herself and pay for school. 2 ½ years ago, knowing she was happiest doing “hands-on-care,” Jennifer left her management position to return to school and continue working toward her degree. At the same time, she needed to find a job that offered her greater flexibility. One day she gave a ride to a friend who was going to an open interview for a caregiving job. The agency hiring was Family Resource Home Care. Jennifer decided to apply for a caregiving position, was interviewed, and out of the approximately 30 people at the event was one of only 2 people offered a job. “I fell into it,” says Jennifer.
Jennifer works short shifts for Family Resource and estimates that to date, she has worked with 30 clients. She currently has four clients, including one she has been with since the beginning. Jennifer loves working with seniors and when she becomes a nurse, plans to make it her life’s work and focus on geriatrics.
“I don’t like sitting at a desk and doing the same thing all day. I love doing this kind of “hands-on-care” because from one day to the next, things are always changing,” said Jennifer. “I particularly like working with people with dementia and it has become a kind of specialty for me. Each of my current clients has dementia and are in different stages of the disease.” When asked about the techniques she uses to earn her client’s trust, Jennifer explains her methods. “I pay attention to them,” she says. “When I can’t understand their words, I read their eyes. Before walking into a client’s home I always read the care plan. I come into the room friendly and confident. I tell my clients that I am here for them. I show them respect and tell them that I want to help. If something is not working, I always look for another way. If that doesn’t work I don’t push. I’ll walk away for a few minutes and when I come back, often the client won’t even remember what the problem was.”
Jennifer is a “client centered” caregiver and looks for new and enjoyable ways to engage her clients. This week one client became convinced that the house she grew up in was being sold. Jennifer asked if she would like to go see it and the next day she drove her client 25 miles to see her old home. “What keeps me doing this work is the people and the connections I make with them,” says Jennifer. “I like getting to know them and building a bond. Having a good relationship with your client makes doing the tasks they don’t want to do – like taking a bath – easy.”
In closing, Jennifer commented on her experience working with Family Resource Home Care. “Family Resource has been good to me. They let me do my job and don’t try to micromanage me. I feel they respect me as a professional,” she concludes.