What Makes a Great Caregiver Great?
Compassion, honesty, reliability, sensitivity. The top caregivers with Right at Home, one of the nation’s leading in-home care companies, emulate these qualities and more. Every year, Right at Home honors five top caregivers with a Caregiver of the Year award (four Region winners and one National winner). The prestigious awards celebrate the accomplishments of a select group of caregivers who selflessly deliver extraordinary care to seniors and adults with disabilities. From among 156 nominees this year, the 2018 Region winners are Edris Plummer of Hicksville, N.Y. (Northeast); Johnnie Mae Foster of Rome, Ga. (Southeast); Jacquelyn Crenshaw-Young of Dallas, Texas (Central); and Vickie Moore of Reno, Nev. (West). The National winner will be announced in May.
Top Qualities to Seek in a Professional Caregiver
When you’re considering at-home care for a loved one, you want professional caregivers who are thoroughly trained and experienced, but there are a number of valued characteristics that go beyond job descriptions. What is the caregiver’s personality and temperament? How does the caregiver connect with care clients? The following are exemplary qualities to look for in a caregiver.
A person’s character is often a blend of their disposition, tone and style. For caregivers, character is modeled through compassion, understanding, sensitivity and caring. Edris Plummer emulates these traits and more in her work with Sandy and Phil Quartuccio, owners of Right at Home of North Shore Long Island, N.Y. One of Edris’ clients is a 98-year-old woman who has no family. This past year, Edris stayed alongside her frail client during several hospitalizations. When the woman’s heat went out at home for quite some time, Edris provided extra blankets to keep the senior warm. It’s no wonder Edris has been described as “honest, reliable, trustworthy, very thoughtful, competent and professional.”
Connects Well With People
Creating a winsome connection between caregiver and client is essential. A caregiver’s devotion can create a ripple effect of influence, like Vickie Moore’s work with Right at Home in Reno. Dawn, a client’s daughter, applauds Vickie’s impact on her somewhat disagreeable father. “Vickie has been wonderful to my dad,” Dawn said. “He is a very difficult person to work with, and she is just so loving. My dad can’t stop talking about how great a job she does and how she takes extra time to make sure he is well cared for.”
Caregivers who are passionate about their work naturally share their enthusiasm with others in the community as they volunteer to help with community service programs and even share their culinary talents. Johnnie Mae Foster bakes fresh cakes and cookies for both her care clients and Right at Home teammates. Agency owner Jay DeVille shares his praise. “When we raise funds for the Parkinson's Walk, Johnnie Mae's brownies are a key part,” he explained. “When we gather socks and gloves for the annual Sheriff's Santa for Seniors fundraiser, she is always a helper.”
Strong Team Spirit
Everyone needs someone to cheer them on, and Jacquelyn Crenshaw-Young has been a hearty morale booster among her peers for more than 27 years. “No matter the hour or time of day, or how busy her schedule may already be, Jackie has always made it her mission to put others before herself,” said Harley Cohen, owner of Right at Home of North Dallas.
Pursues Professional Development
A thirst for increasing one’s skills is nothing new to exceptional caregivers like Vickie, who gains insights into delivering care through certification courses, continuing education classes and online training modules. Vickie has invested her time into researching clients’ particular illnesses and medical needs. Recently, Vickie took on a new client who has Friedreich's ataxia, a rare form of cerebral palsy. Mark Wimbush, the owner of the Right at Home office in Reno, notes how Vickie did her own online research about the disease and presented her findings to the rest of her team to help everyone better understand the client’s needs.
As Johnnie Mae, Edris, Jackie and Vickie demonstrate, a comforting demeanor, likeable rapport and a love for learning are how you become one of the most remarkable caregivers in the world.
What qualities in a caregiver do you appreciate the most?
About the Author
An award-winning journalist who has documented stories in nearly 20 countries, Beth Lueders is an author, writer and speaker who frequently reports on diverse topics, including aging and health issues for both U.S. and international corporations.