“You have to have lots of patience and a kind heart,” Pat Staley says as she explains what it takes to be a Caregiver at Premier. “You have to be cut out for this job and be able to put yourself in the individual’s place and treat them as you would want to be treated – like family.”
Pat certainly knows a thing or two about devoting herself to others. She has worked in the Developmental/Intellectual Disabilities field for 30 years – 19 of those have been with Premier. “I’ve worked for many other organizations but I’ve stayed with Premier because they care more about their clients and staff than any other place I’ve worked,” Pat said.
Previously, Pat had three *Total Care clients for 15 years but unfortunately two have since passed away. “It’s really hard losing a client, it’s like losing a member of your family,” she explained. “Most people don’t realize that individuals with disabilities sometimes have shorter life spans.”
Her remaining client is quite the character, and although he is non-verbal and non-ambulatory, Pat says he still manages to show his resolve to be independent. “He loves to use his arms to scoot around the house and maneuver himself up onto the couch and back down again, he is truly amazing,” she said.
A Day in the life
Pat’s day starts off at 7 a.m. when she arrives at her client’s house. The first task she tackles is sanitizing everything in the house from top to bottom with CDC approved disinfecting products. After that, she organizes her client’s medications for the day and on some days makes his doctor appointments. By then her client is ready for his daily shower and getting dressed for the day. “My day to day routine is pretty much what you’d do for your family and your child,” she explained.
After Pat cooks him a nourishing breakfast and gets him settled, she starts doing laundry and housework until lunch time rolls around. “He is like my child really, I change him, feed him and make sure he is safe and healthy,” she explained. “Being a Caregiver is just like being a mom and I treat him as if he were my own.”
For fun, Pat takes her client on long car rides out in the country just to get out of house and explore. Although they rarely get out of the car these days, due to COVID-19, every once in a while, they stop into the local Braum’s drive-through to get a milkshake, and on special days they visit the local park when it’s not crowded.
Pat said that although she and her client’s other Caregivers follow Premier’s Emergency Operating Plan for COVID when it comes to cleaning and disinfecting, it hasn’t put much of a strain on their routine otherwise.
“He really doesn’t like crowds so it’s been really easy to follow social distancing guidelines, that’s for sure,” Pat said. “I’m glad I work for a company that really cares and has been so stringent about the COVID guidelines – I’ve seen so many other organizations not following them at all.”
When asked if there were any challenges to her job, Pat said burnout can be a concern. “It’s easy to get burned out, especially when you’ve been in this field as long as I have and working with Total Care clients,” she explained. “But being at Premier means I have the support of my Program Coordinator and she will help me find a way to cope and work through the tough times.”
Pat says she is also thankful for the support she has received from her clients' family members and guardians, “They are integral team members in the total care of our clientele, and I am so grateful for their continued assistance and encouragement – it means so much to me.”
Reflecting on her years as a Caregiver Pat concludes, “The bottom line is you have to remember why you wanted this job in the first place and know in your heart you are helping someone who may otherwise have no one to properly care for them and love them.”
* Total care is where long-term care facilities for residents are responsible for meeting all the needs of a resident.