Given enough time and experience, many people can learn how to become a wonderful caregiver; other people, including our Platinum Caregiver of the month, Declan Q., simply seem to have it in their blood. “Seven years ago, I decided to become a caregiver,” said Declan. She says she wanted to “strip away the noise and materialism” she had felt in other jobs. “Caregiving allows me to be my authentic self,” she said. “It’s a way for me to match my actions with my inner values.”
When Declan first came to Family Resource she was placed with clients who needed the basics; housework, companionship and meal preparation. She was a natural from the start and before long, her supervisors in the Seattle region were placing her with hospice clients, clients with traumatic brain injuries, and those living with progressive diseases. After several years she made a change and for the last two years has worked 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. as a “float” in the Seattle office. This provides the consistent schedule she prefers and the variety and daily challenge she enjoys.
Declan feels that she has found her niche as a float, filling in for other caregivers. “I love meeting new clients and families and being part of something that makes a difference in the community,” she says. “Plus working as a float makes me have to put it together fast. The night before, and then again in the morning, I check the Family Resource app and my text messages. Only then do I know for certain my schedule for the day.”
When she meets her client for the first time Declan says that her goal is to bring a feeling of peace and calm to the situation. “I want them to know they are not alone and that I will be attentive to what is important to them.” To accomplish this Declan says that she relies heavily on her intuition and by looking for clues about her client that she picks up from their home, their body language, and through careful listening. “My goal is to not disrupt how they operate in their home. It’s their sanctuary and I try to see the client’s perspective and step into their shoes. I always follow my client’s lead and try to fit in as fast as possible.”
Reflecting on what makes a good caregiver, Declan lists empathy, reliability, being a good listener, and being trustworthy. “Most of all,” says Declan, “I recognize that what I do as a caregiver is not about me. It’s about what the other person needs, and then meeting that need. By having empathy, I can meet my client’s needs with compassion.”
Declan is happy to be working with Family Resource Home Care. “We all have the same goals,” she says, “and it’s a very supportive environment. My supervisors are incredibly good listeners and I always feel understood. Plus, I trust their assessments. Every day I walk into the homes of strangers and I trust that they are sending me into a safe environment.”
Declan’s supervisors nominated her for Caregiver of the Month, calling her “an extraordinary caregiver who has changed the lives of hundreds of people.” Seattle Regional Manager, Trish McKannay, says she gets notes from clients and families that read, “I don’t know what we would do without Declan.” “I feel the same way,” says Trish. “As a regional float, Declan’s job is critically important. We trust her skills and intuition and we are proud to have her on our team.”