Evelyn Johnson, one of our best caregivers, has over 20 years of professional experience. She lives in Oakland and provides care for her Honor clients in the Walnut Creek area. What’s the most rewarding part of caregiving for Evelyn? Meeting so many passionate, intelligent clients with fascinating life stories. Come on Evelyn, tell us yours!
1. How did you get into being a caregiver?
I started off with handicapped youth straight out of high school. As I got older, I moved toward younger adults and then the elderly in the last 16 years. I was also a school bus driver for the handicapped.
2. Is there anything about your family or background that makes you especially passionate about caring for others?
When I was 9, I started helping my grandmother care for my mother, who had multiple sclerosis. Since she was blind, we didn’t really trust anyone else to be with her. After my grandmother grew ill, we had part time care for the duration of my mom’s life. But I always stayed focused on her being properly cared for, mentally and physically.
So I would say my mom was actually my first caregiver case.
3. Why did you choose Honor?
Honor is the first care company to go high-tech and do everything, like scheduling clients and giving notes and instructions about their care, through an app. I don’t have to be right there in the office to get what I need. And I have the freedom to assign myself a shift.
4. What do you love most about being a professional caregiver?
I like meeting the people I care for and hearing about their history. Most of the time they lived a passionate life, a skillful life. I remember one very intelligent client with dementia who had worked at NASA. If I made him his favorite breakfast, he would be able to remember his entire life story. He would tell me everything, including all the things he built at NASA.
My family has always given back. No matter what we do, we’ve always given back. So it gives me a feeling of appreciation within myself to give back and help others.
5. What’s your greatest challenge in this work?
One challenge is communication. Sometimes you have to split shifts with other companies. So there’s often a communication gap. You have to find tools so that everyone is aware of what’s going on with the client. I don’t have that problem communicating with other Honor Care Pros because we easily share information in the app.
6. What’s the secret ingredient in a great relationship between a caregiver and a client?
The two of you have to have something in common. You can’t just throw two people together. It’s just like a relationship, a friendship. You’re with that person every day, you always have to open it up with a conversation. I try to know what my clients’ hobbies are and their favorite things to watch on TV. If no TV, what are their favorite books? If you do a little research, you can converse about the things they like. Take time to get to know that person—it definitely pays off.
If it’s not a good match, it’s better to stop. If you don’t, he or she may refuse your services by being defiant toward everything you have them do, especially regarding personal hygiene care.
7. Any particularly rewarding moments you’ve had as a Care Pro?
Friendships with family members are very special to me. I’ve been invited to special occasions and family functions. But the main reward is seeing a smile on your client’s face and knowing that the client is happy with your care. As long as I can develop a relationship with my client and know that client feels safe when I’m there, I’m just so pleased with that.
8. What’s the most important question a person should ask before hiring a caregiver?
“What are your strengths and your weaknesses?” If you ask a potential caregiver to name their strengths and they don’t mention patience, then it might not be the job for them.
9. What do you like to do outside of work?
I spend time with my four-month-old grandson. And my children and I, I have three boys, we go bowling a lot. And I love movies—especially on bargain days when it’s five dollars.
10. Anything else you’d like to share?
I have a client who is 101 years old. She doesn’t need a walker. She doesn’t need a hearing aid. She can see you but she can’t read the menu. Now that’s blessed.
That’s what I love about my job. I get to see life at hand, you know? To not have any impairment at that age is just remarkable. Whatever diet she’s on, I want to get on it too!
Looking for the best in-home senior care in the East Bay, give us a call at (925) 465-9915. If you or a loved one needs a little help at home or ongoing care, we can answer your questions and get you started in just a few hours.