Crystal H. in Columbus, GA is an LPN who has previously worked in nursing homes and hospitals. After a recent move, she decided to give in-home care a try and started working with a developmentally disabled client in his late 30s. (Most at-home caregivers are not nurses, but some clients do have skilled nursing needs requiring someone like Crystal.)
Crystal noticed the differences in at-home care immediately. When in an institutional setting, she was constantly running from one client to another, dealing with urgent needs and situations. One client may need some medicine, while another needs help going to the restroom. It’s always something!
But working with one client at his home enabled her to think more deeply about what he needed, beyond just the most urgent challenges.
“It’s more personal and I feel like I can do a better job,” she said. “It makes their life so much better.”
Creating enriching experiences for the client is rewarding
At first, Crystal felt a little awkward about being less busy. She had met all the immediate needs of the client … what else was there to do? The “extra” time felt uncomfortable. But then she realized that the value of at-home care is that clients are able to live fuller, more enriching lives. That time wasn’t “extra” – it was when she could do the things that were most important to the client. She could help him pick out music to listen to, play games, go to the movies, and maybe even dance!
Her client’s family naturally wanted to include him in activities, but he has enough needs that it was sometimes hard to do that. One family member would have to spend the entire event taking care being devoted to his care. Crystal was able to help the family include her client in so many activities. She could focus on her client and the family could enjoy being together and having an enjoyable event, while getting a break from caregiving.
She has even gone with him to a beach party and his 40th birthday party! “It’s not just the client, it helps the family too,” she said.
Working with the whole family is rewarding
Crystal said that one thing she noticed right away was that in a home environment you were able to work with the family to let them make important decisions. In a nursing home, usually families just had to adapt to the schedule and procedures of the facility. There were too many people to make personalized decisions for everyone.
But in an at-home environment, it was possible to be more flexible and Crystal found it rewarding to work with the family to find the best solutions for them. “I’m taking care of one person, instead of sometimes 30 people in a nursing home. It’s just really rewarding,” she said.