March 2019 – CAREGiver Shavana Experiences Poignant Moments
Building trust, taking the lead and sharing her heart, CAREGiver of the Month Shavana Martin tenderly cared for a 94-year-old hospice client just months after joining Home Instead Senior Care® of Clearwater in September 2018. Shavana was prepared emotionally because she’d gone through a comparable experience with her great-grandparents as a teenager in Pennsylvania.
With the Home Instead client, Shavana had taken a fill-in shift that unfolded poignantly during their 8½ to 9 hours together. “I knew the client was near life’s end. We bonded instantly after I came in,” Shavana said. “She wanted me to come to her side and hold her hand, and she asked if I knew any Gospel songs. I do, but the singing commenced in earnest when her pastor, his wife and a church member arrived. The client was waiting for her daughters, who flew in that day. When they arrived, I filled them in on what I’d seen, and they were grateful I was there.”
As Shavana’s shift was winding down, the client took her hand again and said, “I pray I will see you again.” Shavana nodded. Following up, the client’s daughters called the Home Instead Senior Care office and requested Shavana. When Shavana was scheduled to return, the client passed away before the shift started. “It was three days after I’d been with her. I got the call from her daughters. I knew it was inevitable, but it was still sad,” Shavana said.
The situation somewhat mirrored what Shavana had encountered with her great-grandparents. Shavana recalled the extended time when she’d relieve her mom from family caregiving duties after high school classes and would take care of her great-grandparents for two to three hours. When they passed away three days apart, they were 99 and 98 years old and had been together for 80 years. After they married, they’d never been apart for even one night.
“I never believed they should be pulled out of their house, and we didn’t,” Shavana said. “My great-grandmother entered a coma one day, and my great-grandfather did not want to leave her side, but we persuaded him to get some sleep. Shockingly, my great-grandmother later came out of the coma. When I went to wake him up, I found he had passed away. I think he died of a broken heart because he was sure his wife was dying. She died three days later, and both funerals were the same day. It was quite an end to a long love story.”
By the time Shavana joined Home Instead Senior Care, she’d already been a professional caregiver for 15½ years. Two years after moving from Reading, Pennsylvania, to Florida, Shavana went online to find the award-winning Home Instead Senior Care franchise owned by Julie Castle. In Pennsylvania, Shavana did nursing-home work as a CNA. She also worked with those who are mentally and physically handicapped.
Shavana further explained: “I also had done one-on-one care like the kind Home Instead offers. I gained Florida certification as a medication technician and phlebotomist, and I worked at an assisted living care community here before joining Home Instead Senior Care.”
Shavana has assisted two regular clients in their homes since she started with Home Instead Senior Care and works with both ladies Sunday through Friday. She is off on Saturdays but has taken some fill-in shifts.
With her morning client, Shavana uses a Hoyer lift. “She has a helpful roommate who starts breakfast before I get there. I get the client up and dressed. I help her with activities of daily living, including washing and teeth brushing. I also do some light housekeeping,” Shavana said. “There is companionship; she is very vocal. She is from New York, and I’ve been there, and we’ve talked about it.”
Shavana’s other client is 96 and has 24/7 care. “She is wobbly on her feet, uses a walker and has dementia. Her son lives an eight-minute drive away. He is very involved in her care, including breakfast preparation and medications,” Shavana said. “I take care of all other activities of daily living, including showering.”
The client was sleeping a lot when Shavana first started with her, but since then has been perking up and interacts with Shavana by telling stories. “She’s a Russian native who came to the U.S. during World War II after meeting an American soldier in church and later marrying him. Her husband died five years ago. She likes to talk about her grandchildren and still has a sister in Russia,” Shavana said.
Learning her clients’ histories not only helps them remember, Shavana pointed out, but is also “a perk” of a one-on-one care job. “I know I am making an impact, not just physically, but emotionally with companionship,” Shavana said.