We sat down for a chat in this Caregiver Corner with Marie Hiller, a Certified Nursing Assistant with Aware Senior Care. Marie explains what qualities are important in a caregiver, why she loves her work, and how she felt working with a senior who tested positive for COVID-19.
Caregiver Corner with Marie: Q&A
Tell me about your work with Aware Senior Care.
I really like this job. When you see people having a hard time, you put yourself in their shoes. They were living alone, struggling with daily tasks. It’s so hard for them. They’re already upset about what they’ve lost, what they’ve left. It’s good to have someone give them love and compassion and end-of-life care. You can still have a good life even if you’re older. I like giving people my love, to help them feel comfortable.
How long have you been working with the company?
I started working with them in April, just right when COVID started. It’s a company I really like to work with. They’re great, and they really care for their workers.
How did you find Aware Senior Care?
I heard about them from another worker – she was my cousin. She told me they were a “really nice company.” Money can’t satisfy you alone in your work. It has to be a great company. It makes a difference when you work with great people.
What attracted you to working with them?
They always have a reward for good work. They always listen to you when something doesn’t feel right. You tell them what’s wrong, and they take care of it. I like that. They also get wonderful clients. You don’t have to worry about getting a really difficult client, and you’re struggling by yourself to take care of them. You’re never alone with the team at Aware Senior Care.
What’s your favorite part of the job?
I like caring for the residents and clients. I started at Abbotswood at Stonehenge and then I started to work with individual clients. Abbotswood was just too far for me to travel from my home. I live in Apex, so now I care for individual clients in their homes. I work with one client, five days a week, Monday through Friday and every other weekend. My shift is 7-8 hours long; it’s 4 to 11 p.m.
What can you tell me about your client?
The first client – well, all of them actually – the clients have been wonderful. I’ve had seven different clients since I started working with Aware Senior Care. I’ll meet my eighth client tonight! They’ve all been nice, kind, understanding. It’s interesting work.
What would you tell someone considering a career in caregiving?
I would say, “When I retire, maybe you can have my job!” It’s a wonderful job. I would tell them you need to like people, you need to be helpful, someone who cares.
Why did you decide to pursue work as a caregiver?
I really wanted to help older people. Before working as a Certified Nursing Assistant, I was a Medical Technologist, but I wanted to be more hands on. I wanted to work more directly with people, to give them love and good end-of-life care. I’ve always known this about myself, even when I was a young girl. I was always thinking about others, not just about myself. I like to share my happiness. I want someone to feel good like I’m feeling good!
What is a typical day for you at work?
You bathe the client, talk with them, keep them company. Provide encouragement and comfort. Just make someone be happy. Give them that good love. One time, I had a client who was so worried about having me help her with a shower because no one had ever seen her naked. But then, once she trusted me, I was able to help her with bathing, and from that day until she died, I was the only one she’d ever let bathe her. I’m someone who people feel comfortable and trust. I really like that. It feels special to me. I give them respect and love and graciousness. My weakness is that I don’t like when people are unfair or unkind. That bothers me so much, so I try to always be kind and fair.
Tell me about the situation caring for patient(s) with COVID-19.
Yes, I had one patient who tested positive with COVID-19. It was my first patient, and I was working at Abbotswood. I took a test too; I was negative. My patient came back positive. I was worried about getting my son, my family sick. I wondered, “Do I have to isolate? What do I do?” My husband was so worried too. But I knew someone needed to do this work. If I didn’t go, who would go? I knew I needed to sacrifice myself and take care of her. When I came home, I would isolate myself from my family. It was ok. I had Personal Protective Equipment to protect myself and my patient as much as possible. Aware Senior Care was very good at caring for me during that time.
My client was so kind to me, even while she was sick. It was hard. I had a colleague who was also helping me to care for this patient. We all did our best to care for her.
Did you have to isolate from your family?
Yes. I came home after work, and I’d wear my mask in the house. I slept somewhere else. When I cooked, I’d wear my mask, even in the house. Everywhere I went, I wore my mask. I had to do this for a few weeks, and then my patient tested negative. That was good!
What was the most difficult part of that work?
You had to clean everything all the time, inside and outside. No matter where you were working. And it was also hard to wear PPE even when I was home. Staying isolated when I was at home was hard too, but what could I do? I wanted to help her. But the time went quickly. It was hard to be isolated from my husband and my 16-year-old son during this time. I always wanted to protect everyone, even if it was hard for me.
How did it feel to be so “up close and personal” with the virus?
It was scary at first, but I didn’t stay scared for too long. After a few days, once I started working and taking all of the precautions, I started to feel a little more comfortable. I also felt cared for by Aware Senior Care so that helped. After I worked with her, I wouldn’t mind working with another patient with COVID if they needed my help.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Aware Senior Care is great. They make sure to take care of their employees so we can do our work well.
To join our team as one of our COVID Team Caregivers, visit our website under employment to review the special Aware COVID-19 caregiver compensation and benefits package.