Real Care Stories: CAREGivers
Helping ageing New Zealanders to live the best life possible
Home Instead CAREGivers are very special people who make a real difference in the lives of older New Zealanders and help them to remain living safely and with dignity at home. They come from a diverse range of backgrounds and possess a wide variety of skills.
Their stories demonstrate how they are changing the face of ageing in New Zealand through high quality, relationship-based in-home care.
Yabesira’s CAREGiver Story
“Nursing is about completing tasks. My role as a CAREGiver is about taking a more holistic approach.”
Yabesira is a 26-year-old nursing student who is in her final year of studies. She has cared for seven Home Instead clients in total and is currently caring for one who is living with the effects of a stroke and one with dementia. She enjoys providing comprehensive and consistent care to them.
She has also helped care for people who are transitioning home from hospital.
“I really like meeting new people. Many of my clients are still quite independent and I am able to establish a closer relationship with them because I consistently care for the same clients,” says Yabesira.
Yabesira says she particularly enjoys caring for her dementia client, having learnt about the disease during her studies and as her grandfather also lived with it.
“Sometimes it can be really sad, but it’s not always as bad as it may seem. It can be quite enjoyable because you are always having interesting conversations that you wouldn’t have on a daily basis normally,” she says.
Working as a CAREGiver fits in particularly well with Yabesira’s studies and she says her work complements her learnings. She has recommended her job to many nursing students as a result. She studies during the day and works as a CAREGiver in the evenings, mainly from 7.30-10pm, and on Saturdays from 10am-4.30pm. She has also completed overnight shifts on occasion.
“I love being able to work in people’s homes and not having to go into a hospital environment. I love being able to give person-centred care,” she says.
Melanie’s CAREGiver Story
“I absolutely just adore him. He’s an amazing man with amazing stories. He has a great sense of humour. I am so blessed to care for him.”
Melanie is a former pastry chef who became a Home Instead CAREGiver in March 2021. She now spends six hours a day, five days a week, looking after 92-year-old Patrick, who lives with his son and has dementia.
“I was a trained pastry chef, but that was killing me,” says Melanie. “It’s hard work and it’s not glamorous. I saw the advertisement for Home Instead and I tell you what – I just love it. It’s just the best decision I’ve ever made.”
Patrick’s family are adamant they do not want him going into a residential aged care home. Melanie works from 9am-3pm, which fits in with her family, to support Patrick with showering, light household duties, transport to appointments, and companionship to allow him to continue to live safely at home with independence at dignity.
She has noticed Patrick’s decline in the year she has cared for him, saying he used to spend five out of her six hours with him out of bed, but this has reduced to three to four hours. Showering is becoming more difficult so flannel washes are occurring more often and he is starting to shuffle.
“Patrick is getting more frustrated. Things are getting harder and he’s getting more tired,” Melanie says.
Bringing positivity into Patrick’s life is important to Melanie. Activities such as jigsaws, reading the newspaper, and music all employed. The former police officer even stands and shakes his hips from time to time.
“We play a lot of music. I dance around and he laughs at me,” she says. “We’re such a good fit. If I can make him smile once a day, then I’m happy.”
Safety is a main priority for Melanie. She prefers to leave Patrick tucked in bed when she leaves at 3pm because she knows he will be safe until his son returns from work.
“There have been no accidents on my watch and I plan to keep it that way.”
Valerie’s CAREGiver Story
“It’s very satisfying to make a change – enabling someone to live the best life they can live is a real privilege.”
Valerie is a retired registered nurse who recently joined the Home Instead team in Auckland. After retiring in 2018, Val decided to return to some work during the COVID-19 pandemic of the past few years and spent some time doing COVID vaccinations and supporting medical practices. Deciding that role was quite stressful, Val was looking for another opportunity where she could use her extensive skills.
“I was getting exhausted trying to keep up with everything and thought I needed to do something else that aligned with my skills. CAREGiving was a natural progression,” says Val, who will be 70 next month.
Val has used her experience to improve the daily routine of a client who lives with dementia. The day starts at 8am with the preparation of breakfast, conversation during the meal, some light housework, followed by morning tea and an activity such as painting.
“She doesn’t have a lot of visitors. That is one of the challenges with dementia – friends often don’t know how to interact and so they drop away,” Val says.
“There’s a little shop in her aged care centre and residents often asked how my client was doing. I thought it would be good to ask them to drop the groceries to her after I bought them because she would really like the company.”
Val loves being able to advocate for her clients to improve their lives for the better. She also loves having the luxury of time to spend with one client at a time – a very different experience to being a nurse.
“I’ll work as a CAREGiver as long as I’m capable, as long as I’m well and healthy,” she says, adding that her own age is an advantage.
“You know that companionship is so needed and it can make a real difference in someone’s life.”