Hurray for May because it’s Older Americans Month! During this month, the Administration for Community Living (under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) promotes its resources to help older Americans stay healthy and independent.

Helping seniors maintain their health and independence is exactly what each of our Amada caregivers does every day in communities around the country. So, we decided to mark Older Americans Month by profiling six exceptional caregivers who were presented with an Amada Value Award in recognition of their outstanding service to seniors.

6C’s of Caregiver Core Values

Each Value Award represents one of Amada’s 6 Caregiver Core Values, which include Compassionate, Competent, Communicative, Committed, Confidently Humble, and Congenial. These Caregiver 6Cs reflect our caregiving philosophy and process. Amada franchise partners nominated their best-of-the-best caregivers and a seven-member corporate panel selected honorees during a fervent jurying session.

The recipients of the 2018 Amada Value Awards are Elaine Judson (Compassionate), Ashley Bruner (Competent), Megan Pepper (Communicative), Joy Douglass (Committed), Cynthia Woy (Confidently Humble), and Vanise St. Jilus (Congenial). What follows are snapshots of their interactions with senior clients that demonstrate why they were chosen to receive a Value Award.

L to R: Cynthia Woy (Confidently Humble), Joy Douglass (Committed), Megan Pepper (Communicative), at top Ashley Bruner (Competent),Vanise St. Jilus (Congenial), and Elaine Judson (Compassionate).

Elaine Judson, caregiver at Amada Twin Cities, received the Compassionate Value Award for the kind attention she gives to “all the little things” for senior clients. In caring for an 85-year-old woman with Alzheimer’s, Elaine helped her apply her favorite lotion as part of her bedtime routine and talked quietly to her to make sure she went to sleep comfortably. She even gently repositioned her throughout the night and took care of any perceived discomfort the client experienced during the day.

Elaine took time to understand what was important to her client, even though the woman had lost the ability to articulate. She included the woman’s husband of 65 years in the care of his wife as much as possible. “I know my mom was aware of Elaine’s empathy and was comforted by its warmth,” said the woman’s daughter. “I sometimes felt like I had another sister, or may another (healthy) mother, guiding me through this difficult journey, because the depth of Elaine’s loving feelings was always evident.”

Ashley Bruner, caregiver at Amada Knoxville, received the Competent Value Award for consistently applying her talents to improving her senior clients’ health and lifestyle. Seeing one couple she cared for was significantly underweight, Ashley created a diet plan that included fruits, vegetables and home-cooked meals. (They had previously consisted on whatever they could get out of a can or box.) She made meals for them and the husband’s weight climbed to a healthy 164 pounds for his 6-foot-1-inch frame.

She got the husband to take his Parkinson’s medication regularly and cajoled him into using his walker. These steps improved his mood, helped minimize his tremors and lessened his fall risk. Ashley’s support greatly helped his wife, who suffers from mild dementia. “Through a combination of compassion, love and just the right amount of assertiveness, Ashley greatly improved the couple’s health and quality of their home life,” said Jeff Pell, owner of Amada Knoxville.

Megan Pepper, caregiver at Amada Mesa, is the recipient of the Communicative Value Award, because of her talent for interpreting clients’ needs and overcoming challenges in their care. She was able to gain the trust of a client diagnosed with Alzheimer’s who was struggling to give up her independence and wasn’t comfortable allowing caregivers to take over some household tasks. Megan went through the steps of doing laundry with the client to show her that everything would be done as the client wanted.

When the client began having hour-long seizures because of the disease’s progression, Megan would sing the client’s favorite hymns to her because she had noticed it would help ease the seizure and bring it to an end. “Her clients feel her love and commitment,” explained Kris Patmos, co-owner of Amada Mesa. “They know she will always care for them lovingly. Megan never delays in taking care of a need. She knows how important it is to know the heart of her clients and what speaks to them.”

Joy Douglass, caregiver at Amada Corona, received the Committed Value Award, for unfailing service to multiple clients during short two to three hour visits. She often works with five different clients in a single day yet gives her all for each. She jumps at the chance to help rather than be put off by such a challenging schedule.

Joy was off-shift when she received a call from a regular client who was in a panic because she couldn’t remember where she had parked her car at a large shopping mall. Joy dropped everything to drive to the mall, pick up the client and drive around the mall parking lot until they found the client’s car. “I believe it’s this type of self-sacrifice and commitment that Joy reflects in her character,” said Michael Robirds, owner of Amada Corona. “She truly carries her herself in such a manner as to reflect the Committed Value Award – doing nothing out of selfish desire or a boastful self-importance, but in humility because she considers others more than herself.”

Cynthia Woy, caregiver at Amada Pittsburgh, is the recipient of the Confidently Humble Award because she is “nothing short of a personal caring angel to everyone she comes in contact with,” said franchise owner Joe Spehar. “She goes above and beyond to ensure everyone around her is safe and content.”

Many times when she goes off-the-clock, Cynthia will give extra time to a senior client simply because she wants to be of further assistance and know the client is on a restricted budget. She is passionate about her clients being well cared for, comfortable and fed. She keeps up her cosmetology license just so she can provide a complimentary haircut and styling to a client on a limited income. “She is the most selfless person we have ever met,” Joe said.

Vanise St. Jilus, caregiver at Amada Boca Raton, received the Congenial Value Award for her ability to put clients at ease with her warmth and friendliness.

“How better to describe someone as congenial? When I recently visited Vanise’s client’s home, Vanise was teasing the client’s husband and everyone was giggling about it,” recalled Michele Harris, owner of Amada Boca Raton. “Her client said they laugh all the time.”

The client confided to Michele that Vanise made sure to have a close relationship with the woman’s daughter and that Vanise “handles my husband, who can be a pain sometimes.” Because of Vanise’s ability to get along so well with others, the client was able to ease her mind because she knew that her daughter and husband were getting emotional support while the client dealt with a chronic disease.

Vanise truly became one of the family, spending Thanksgiving and Christmas with them and sharing personal stories with them. The client asked Vanise to continue caring for her husband when she passed away. The bond between Vanise and her client was so intimate that Vanise was there the day the client died peacefully at home.

“Each one of you represents the heart and soul of our organization, and the essential values that have built our company into what it is today,” said Amada Franchise Sales Director Matt Smith at the Value Awards ceremony held March 17 during our annual conference. “Thank you for the care and compassion you provide to the seniors we serve. Thank you for your nurturing hearts and for your patience with those unable to care for themselves.”

Just as this May’s Older Americans Month theme encourages seniors and their communities to …

  • Connect with friends, family, and local services and resources.
  • Create through activities that promote learning, health, and personal enrichment.
  • Contribute time, talent, and life experience to benefit others.

… so do Amada caregivers every day of the year.

“Amada Caregivers Presented with Value Awards for Exceptional ‘6Cs’ Service” written by Michelle Flores, Amada marketing specialist.