With Warmhearted Approach, Caregiver Helps Older Adults Remain Independent
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Misty Stone worked in marketing in the health care industry, but never imagined that she herself would be on the front line. When the pandemic hit in early 2020, however, she was panicked when she lost child care for her son, who has special needs. Feeling torn between her job and caring for her son, Misty turned to Sandi Heintz, co-owner of Right at Home in Northwest Houston, Texas.
Misty had an existing relationship with Sandi, having met her eight years prior when Sandi opened her Right at Home office.
“Misty’s background is in marketing, and she actually helped me get this business off the ground eight years ago,” says Sandi. “So when Misty experienced big life changes in 2020, it was my pleasure to be able to return the favor.”
“Sandi and her husband, Dan, gave me the opportunity to come and work for them, and I was committed to learning how to be a great caregiver,” says Misty. “The experience has strengthened me. It’s provided me with patience, encouragement, and admiration for those I serve.”
An Innate Ability to Serve
Although Misty has only been working as a professional caregiver with Right at Home for a little over a year, she has proven to have natural gifts that have earned her the title of this year’s Southwest Region Caregiver of the Year.
“It means the world to me,” she says, holding back tears of appreciation. “It shows me that I have meant something to this family I serve and to the company. I didn’t expect to win! It was a really big surprise.”
Misty has come to love taking care of others, and encouraging her clients to live independently is something she takes seriously.
“Misty has an innate ability to want to serve others, and you can see that giving heart and giving spirit when she’s with her clients,” says Sandi. “It’s a real gift.”
Prior to taking on the role, Misty had understood the gravity of caregiving thanks to the proximity of her job in marketing for hospice and home health services. Experiencing it firsthand, however, has been very humbling for her.
“Caregiving has provided me with a new vision of what it means to help someone keep their independence as long as they can,” says Misty. “You have the power to make them still feel important and to encourage them to do things on their own, which they wouldn’t do without you.”
Going Above and Beyond
For the last year, Misty has worked with a client who lives in an assisted living facility. Although her client’s own family was unable to visit with their loved one during the early stages of the pandemic, Misty served as their “eyes and ears,” reporting back to them about their mother’s well-being and helping facilitate window visits.
“Misty served as our interpreter since Mom is hard of hearing, and Misty would repeat to Mom what was being said,” recalls the client’s daughter. “Misty took pictures of our window visits. She made it bearable and did her utmost to make each visit memorable.”
For one such visit, the family arranged a surprise for their mother’s 96th birthday and worked with Misty to help orchestrate it.
“When the family couldn’t come visit for the client’s birthday, Misty planned her a birthday party, going above and beyond to make the occasion cheerful,” says Shanna Kopp, HR Coordinator for Right at Home Northwest Houston and the party responsible for Misty’s nomination for Caregiver of the Year. “Misty got special permission from the facility to have the client go out on a balcony so her family could see her from a safe distance and wish her a happy birthday.”
“I ordered a big yard sign that was placed far away but close enough for her to see, and as many family members came as possible,” says the client’s daughter. “Misty was instrumental in helping us keep it a surprise. She got my mom all ready for her party and did extra things to make her feel special. We couldn’t have done it without Misty! She helped make it a really unforgettable day for my mom.”
Enriching Life Through Caregiving
While Misty acknowledges that she isn’t sure exactly what the future might have in store for her, she is forever changed by her experience working as a caregiver for Right at Home. Her secret? Treating everyone the same way she would treat her own family.
“It’s not just about me being a caregiver,” says Misty. “It’s about someone’s mom, and she’s become family to me, so her family becomes family to me too. It’s a true teamwork dynamic and it gives me the opportunity to give back to others.”