Robin Moran was recently recognized as caregiver of the year by her employer, Home Instead Senior Care, a White-Rock-based company that provides assistance to elderly people.
During an interview with Peace Arch News about her award, Moran, a Cloverdale resident, said her clients tend to fall into one of two categories.
There are those who have developed age-related cognitive problems who require supervision, and there are those whose mental faculties are fine, but need help coping with physical frailties.
Like the irascible octogenarian woman who had gone blind and had tried for a while to cope by placing carpet mats around her home, indoors and out, as navigational aids.
The woman’s family hired Moran to care for her, and it was a sometimes difficult experience for both the woman, an independent soul, and Moran, who had to weather her client’s occasional displays of bad temper. Every now and then, she says, the woman would get so frustrated that she would try to dismiss Moran.
“You’re fired,” the woman would say.
“You don’t pay me enough money to fire me,” Moran would reply.
Over time, the stubborn client and feisty caregiver worked things out. The older lady learned how to maneuver through stores and streets despite her vision impairment.
“Sometimes, you find that people can do more than they think,” Moran says.
The two women became friends, and the client nicknamed the upbeat Moran “Robin Redbreast.”
It may have been a reference to the traditional English rhyme of “Little Robin Red Breast,” a feisty bird who is unfazed when confronted by a cat.
When her client finally passed away, Moran went to her funeral.
Moran says clients who have their wits about them can be challenging, but nothing like a person suffering from Alzheimer’s or other form of dementia.
One male client with dementia once got so angry with Moran that she had to, literally, run away.
For about five minutes.
By then, the client had calmed down and completely forgotten all about being mad at her.
“Hey, how are you doing?” Moran said on her return.
“OK,” the man said.
“Want to go for a walk?”
And off they went.
Moran, a mother of three and grandmother of five, tried retirement, but it didn’t suit her.
After a stay in Mexico, she ended up back in B.C. where she spotted an ad for professional caregivers.
Her boss, Wes Colby, says Moran has a “gift” for working with older people.
“You can train someone forever, but if they don’t have that gift, it’s never going to work out,” Colby says. “It’s a calling.”
Moran has worked in Surrey, White Rock and Langley for the last seven years and has several long term clients.
“Balancing the demands of child-rearing and careers while taking care of their senior loved ones can take its toll on a family,” Colby said.
“Caregivers can serve as a respite to families and help seniors remain independent for as long as possible.”