This month’s Platinum Caregiver Award goes to Jo Romero from our Tri-Cities region (pictured on the far right, with two of her regular clients). Jo is one of our most sought-after caregivers. She was recently promoted to Lead Float but each of her “regular clients” pleaded that we let her continue caring for them. Jo is committed to making sure that when she leaves her regulars, they will continue to get the quality care they need. “For me to be comfortable leaving them, I need to know that the next caregiver can handle their particular medical needs,” said Jo. When another of her clients was told about Jo’s promotion, he said, “You need to clone Jo, but I don’t want the clone, I want the original! There is no one else like her.”
Tri-Cities Regional Manager Jackie Zakrajsek agrees completely. “I have not met another caregiver who takes her professional career in caring more seriously. Jo is the most compassionate person and always goes above and beyond to provide exceptional client-focused care. Jo not only completes her assigned tasks, but she sets the bar very high for any caregiver who follows. She is truly dedicated to improving her client’s quality of life, and in turn, her clients have come to rely on her dependability, her outstanding communication with the office, her skills, and her cooking! Jo is what everyone wants in a caregiver.”
Jo was born and raised in Tacoma and from the time she entered the military at age 17, she has enjoyed a varied and wide-ranging work life. She has been a supervisor at McDonald’s and a manager at a Roy Roger’s restaurant. She was an entrepreneur opening Kings Kids Day Care, an infant to Pre-K daycare and after school program. She also managed an Orthopedic Clinic and worked for a company that provides inflatables for children’s parties. Interspersed among her various jobs, Jo also worked for several different home care agencies. She is an experienced caregiver and years ago, worked for Family Home Care (now Family Resource Home Care). In September 2018, Jo visited the Tri-Cities branch to collect some paperwork from her time working for FHC and was asked by staff, ‘Why don’t you apply here?’ “So, I did,” said Jo, “and I was hired.”
Returning to caregiving was the right move for Jo. “I missed the people,” she said, “and I missed being able to make a difference. When you’re a caregiver, you can help your client find their way back to who they were. A good caregiver shows their client that they can still do things. I help them see that they are still capable. When I help someone discover what they are still able to do, their whole attitude changes.”
Currently, Jo is working on getting her Nurse Delegation certification. She is also looking forward to moving full-time into her new Lead Float position. “Jo regularly helps the office staff by picking up extra shifts and working weekends when she can,” says regional manager, Jackie. “We know it isn’t easy for her clients to lose her daily presence in their lives, but as Lead Float she will be able to work with even more of our clients, helping to improve the quality of their lives.”
Jo also looks forward to assisting Tri-Cities staff in training some of the region’s newest caregivers in the future. She has thought about the most important ideas she would want to communicate. “First of all, I would tell them that this business is not babysitting,” said Jo. “It’s not about being there just to make sure the client doesn’t fall or hurt themselves. We’re not there to sit on the couch. We have to actively care for them. Number two, I would tell them to always read the care plan before they step into a client’s home. It’s important to know the situation you are walking into. Then I would tell them to sit down with the client and go over the care plan together. This is when you say, ‘I am here to help you.’ For number three I would say, put your phone on the table and don’t touch it until you are ready to leave. Fourth, I would tell them to look around their client’s room or home. Usually, you can see what needs to be done. Number five is important, and that is you better know how to cook, or at least know the basics.”
Cooking is one of Jo’s many skills, which is useful as her children and nine grandchildren all live nearby. “They love to spend time with grandma,” says Jo. “We play a lot of board games. We love to make popcorn, snuggle up on the couch and watch a movie.”
The contentment that Jo feels with her family is echoed in her work with Family Resource Home Care and the Tri-Cities region. “I love Family Resource and I love the people I work with,” said Jo. “The office staff is awesome. Jackie and Nic care about the caregivers, but they care about the clients, too. It’s not just a business to them. One time I was upset about one of my clients. I was in the office crying, and Jackie cried right along with me.” It was then that Jo knew she had landed in just the right workplace.