“My most memorable client is the one who sprayed me with a showerhead, as she did not want to be bathed,” says LaQuita Graves, the Central Region winner of the Right at Home 2017 Caregiver of the Year award. “She was living at home at that time. Although I was soaked, I managed to retrieve the showerhead from her and gave her a shower.”
Graves’ role with the client included safety supervision, medication reminders and bathing assistance. “She broke her hip and leg and was in an electric wheelchair,” says Graves. “There were signs that she may have had dementia, but she was never diagnosed.
“Caregiving requires a lot of patience and understanding,” continues Graves. “My father had a mental disability and lived in a nursing home. I cared for him on occasions. My first job in the health care industry was at a state facility for individuals with mental disabilities. I later worked at a group home, and eventually I became a private caregiver.”
“LaQuita has a lot of respect for everyone,” says Jon Searles, owner of Right at Home Central Texas. “Even if the situation is difficult, she always handles it gracefully and professionally. She does an excellent job at preserving the dignity of our elderly clients.”
Caregiver Support and Career Development Programs
Graves became a Certified Nursing Aide in 2006 after working in home care for a year. She joined Right at Home in March 2014.
“In the past four years, I have worked with elderly clients who have different health conditions,” says Graves. “Most of my caregiving skills are learned on the job. There is a strong peer support environment at Right at Home. I like talking to my co-workers—they understand the challenges I face and are always willing to help. That means a lot to me.”
Besides a strong support system, Right at Home Central Texas encourages its caregivers to advance their careers. “We offer a CNA scholarship program to caregivers who have been with us for at least a year,” says Searles. “We cover 100 percent of the cost of the CNA training classes as long as the caregiver agrees to stay with us for a minimum of six months after graduation.”
Caregiver training is important to Searles. His office provides skills-based training on a regular basis in conjunction with industry partners such as local hospice and home health agencies, and it runs quarterly policy training to ensure all frontline staff members are up to date with local regulations. Searles is also hoping to bring the “Dementia Live” training program to caregivers in spring 2017.