February 2018 – Barbara Smith – Barbara’s Promises: A Smile, Empathetic Shoulder, Assistance
CAREGiver of the Month Barbara Smith and her late client immediately clicked. In fact, the client exclaimed, “Barbara, you were sent by God.” A surprised Barbara smiled.
Reflecting on their introduction a year later, Barbara offered: “I liked what she said, but I am careful in a respectful way about accepting personal references to The Almighty. I give every client a smile, an empathetic shoulder and as much help as I can provide. I have not met any client I don’t like,” However, Barbara added, “This client was a special woman who is dear to my heart. She had an impact on me. She lifted my spirits as much as I lifted hers. Working with her reminded us of our Home Instead Senior Care® motto: ‘To us, it’s personal.’ I do take it personally when I am with a client.”
Barbara, who always has had a strong faith and draws strength from church involvement wherever she’s lived, said the late client broached the subject of spirituality when they first met. “I was surprised and did not expect it, but I don’t turn down the chance to pray with anyone if they ask,” Barbara said, “and we had a spiritual bond.”
Although their time together spanned only two months because of the client’s medical challenges, Barbara said: “We were like mother and daughter. She adopted me — her whole family did. I threw a birthday party for her, and she loved it. We invited family and friends, of course. She passed away recently after a medical episode and hospitalization. Before she died, I visited her. She recognized me, and she was in good spirits. I am sad for myself and am feeling a loss, but I am happy for her because she is no longer suffering and is in the presence of her Lord and Savior.”
Smiles make all the difference not only for the clients but for Barbara, who joined Home Instead Senior Care of Clearwater in October 2016. “I try to keep smiles on every client’s face. I love it when they smile, and the clients love it when someone wants to make them smile,” said Barbara, who was honored as CAREGiver of the Month for February 2018 at the award-winning franchise owned by Julie Castle. Barbara, who has received many compliments but never seeks praise, said the clients’ smiles are all the reward she needs.
Asked for other thoughts about being a CAREGiver, Barbara said: “Seniors need someone they can trust, someone who will not take advantage of them. Over the years, I have seen things I don’t like in a few facilities, but not all of them of course. I take care of my clients as if they were my mom and dad. You’d provide your own parents with compassion and help, wouldn’t you? That’s how I view it.”
Sadly, Barbara never got the chance to help her parents. Her mother died when Barbara was 9, and Barbara’s father died when she was 14. “I was raised by my oldest sister. I am the youngest of eight girls,” explained Barbara, who lived in South Bend, Indiana, before moving to Florida with her family three years ago in attempt to help her mother- and father-in-law.
“My husband and I helped them when they lived in South Bend, before they moved to Florida. We moved here because their conditions worsened. Their daughter and son-in-law are here in Florida and were taking care of them. Unfortunately, my mother-in-law died in 2015, before we could get here, and my father-in-law died in 2016.”
Given the circumstances, Barbara added: “I needed a job, but I was a little scared when I went back to the workforce. I had been a stay-at-home mom for 18 years with seven children so, at first, I was looking into doing something like daycare. One day, I saw Home Instead was hiring. Senior care also appealed to me because I grew up in a South Bend church that had a lot of seniors. I would sit with one who was bedridden.”
Barbara said she felt comfortable after joining Home Instead Senior Care.
“It is a good office with good communication. Training helped me, and I’d like more training like the ongoing classes that Home Instead offers. I want to further my education,” Barbara said, “At orientation, they said, “It will hurt when you lose your clients,’ Three of my clients have passed away, and I don’t think it will ever get easier when the time comes to lose them. I just want them to smile while I am with them.”