Meet our Caregiver of the Year Regional Finalist, Cindy
We appreciate everything she does for our clients and the high level of professionalism that she brings to home care.
Here she is in her own words.
My name is Cindy Sutherland; I was born in Redlands, California and grew up in the Yucaipa area, attending school from Elementary through high school at Yucaipa High.
My first job was as a caregiver for my maternal grandfather, he was getting to the point in his life where he couldn’t care for himself, “Senile” as it was called then, and this is where my training began with Alzheimer’s and Dementia. I cared for him until his death in 1984 and looking back now I can say this is when my career as a caregiver began.
While living in New Mexico I obtained my CNA certification and worked as a caregiver for Community Homecare doing the same tasks as we do with Right at Home, I also worked as a Nursing Assistant at a medical office, but my most rewarding job in New Mexico was as a caregiver for a lady named Virginia, she was wheelchair bound and suffered with Friedreichs Ataxia, a rare disease that attacks the nervous system, she was also a Type 2 Diabetic. I cared for Virginia for ten years and only left her when I was asked to come back to California to help care for my Mother.
My Mom was diagnosed with COPD, Alzheimer’s and Dementia. On New Year's weekend, 2009 my husband and I drove a U-Haul truck back home to California. Mom passed away in 2011 and I held her hand as she drew her last breath. Those last two years caring for her taught me a lot about life and death: Life is precious and my job as a caregiver is to make sure that my clients live their lives with dignity, and throughout the remainder of my career this goal will not change.
I went to work for Right at Home shortly after my Mom passed away in 2011. My New Mexico CNA certification would not transfer to California, so in 2009 I attended Beaumont Adult School and obtained my California CNA and Home Health Care certifications.
My clients with Right at Home have kept me on my toes, dealing with everything from their daily care such as dressing and bathing, meals, medication reminders, and just listening to them talk of days gone by, to the hospice patients who need a great deal more help. Most of all, it's import to to just show them compassion and understanding to help them in their last days. I had three clients in a row who were on hospice. Their passing was not easy especially when you are the one who finds that they are gone. They are more than just a clients. Most become friends and treating our clients as such is the best way to make sure that we continue to be the best caregivers around.
One of my favorite clients passed away recently. He was one that always wanted to remain independent and when he pushed the envelope his family had to re-address what was expected of him as he aged. The best memory I have of him is when he grinned at me and said, "You know kid, we ain’t going to get any gray hairs over this are we?" I still think about this remark daily and I say it to myself often. I do have many great memories of all my clients, but the list is too long to mention. Each and every one has touched my heart in their own special way.
My spare time is almost non-existent right now because after I return home from work I also caregive at home. We still live with my father and taking care of him is becoming more of a full time job as he reaches his 80th year. We have had several setbacks these last couple of years with heart attacks, heart surgeries and a few hospital stays for my husband. Put these two guys together and, even though they get along well, they are a hand full for me.
My idea of stress relief would be going to the mountains or beach, a theme park with our grandson or just a little family time when everyone is in good spirits. This is what keeps me going because I know I will be there one day.
I have done a lot of different types of caregiving, from companion care to hospice. I have worked with many different clients from those with Dementia and Alzheimer’s to those who were just ornery to be around. My first job was with my Grandfather, but looking back I remember checking in on my elderly neighbor and making her breakfast before I went to school. After school I went back to her house and picked up and made sure she was comfortable for the evening. This was a lot for a thirteen year old, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world and I feel the same about every client I have ever worked with.
The most rewarding thing about working as a caregiver for Right at Home is knowing that my clients are happy with me taking care of them, and my day is truly made when I walk in the door and see them smile.