With her positive outlook, generous spirit, and matter-of-fact style, it is easy to see Jo Ann Smith-Engle’s Midwest roots. Raised in Michigan, Jo Ann moved to Seattle in 2004. She had been working as a caregiver since 1976, but in 1986 took a break to begin a new career in cosmetology. After a number of years teaching cosmetology, she retired and after moving to Seattle she went back to caregiving. She worked as a house manager in a group home for developmentally disabled adults but it was while working in an Assisted Living facility that Jo Ann realized that what she really wanted was to work one-on-one with her clients. A quick search on Craig’s List brought her to Family Resource where she happily came on board and has just completed her 4th year.
“Family Resource is a very good company,” said Jo Ann. “It’s the first place I’ve worked where the supervisors listen to what the caregivers and clients have to say. Once I pointed out some things in the care plan of my client’s late wife and they really listened and made the changes I suggested. They value our opinions and for that reason I’ve referred several people to them.”
When she first started with FRHC, Jo Ann was introduced to a couple who became long-term clients. The wife passed away last year but Jo Ann continues to work full-time with the husband. “He’s very active and high-functioning,” said Jo Ann. “He goes to a weekly art class and an exercise-dance class. We do everything together,” Jo Ann continued. “I even take him on vacation. Last year my husband and I took him to Yellowstone National Park and next month we’ll escort him to Florida where he will visit relatives.”
“My goal as a caregiver is to make a positive difference in my client’s life and to be there when his family cannot. He and his wife were like family to me and now that she’s passed, I care even more that he knows he’s not alone,” said Jo Ann. “My mother was an RN and I remember her telling me that people always say you shouldn’t get involved in your patients lives. But then she would say, ‘How can you not get involved? How can you not care?’”
Jo Ann cares so much for her client that when he was faced with the prospect of being alone over the holidays, she and her husband included him in their celebrations. They had Thanksgiving dinner together as well as Christmas day.
Jo Ann describes herself as having an outgoing, bubbly personality. “I’ve always gotten along with my clients,” she said. “75-80% of them just want you to be bright and cheerful and to make them smile.”
All Jo Ann needs to do is be Jo Ann, and her clients will find themselves smiling, blessed with the best that Family Resource Home Care has to offer.