For 14 years Kim Brown worked as a hotel breakfast cook. But 5 years ago, when her mother’s health declined, Kim quit her job to become her caregiver, first taking care of everyday needs like grocery shopping and then ultimately moving with her husband into her mother’s home. When the care became more demanding Kim remembers thinking to herself, “I’d never do this for anyone else.”
After her mother passed away; and despite her earlier belief that caregiving was something she could only have done for her mother, Kim’s attitude shifted. “I realized I had a calling to care,” said Kim. “I found that I wanted to continue to care for older adults.”
Kim soon found a private caregiving job with a 99-year-old woman and discovered how good it felt to bring a smile to the face of a senior. “My client had a collection of wooden ducks,” remembers Kim. “In the morning, after I got her up, I would bring her breakfast; and every day I would place a different duck on her tray. It made her so happy to wonder which duck it would be and I realized how much I enjoyed doing little things that brightened her day.”
When her client passed away, Kim decided to pursue caregiving in earnest and earned her CNA certification. She also decided to look for a job with a home care agency and 2 ½ years ago found Family Resource Home Care. “When I walked into the office, it just felt good. I liked that it was a small company and I liked that the owner (David Lawrence) was there and came out to speak to me. He told me about caring for his own mother and I felt that he really knew what caregiving was all about. I am very happy at Family Resource. My supervisors Karen, Katina, and Trish are always wonderful and supportive.”
Currently, Kim has 3 clients, one of whom she sees only 2 hours a week. “My client keeps saying ‘Why do I keep you around’” laughs Kim. “Then she’ll say ‘I just can’t let you go.’ I think she finds me encouraging.”
Another client is a 94-year-old gentleman who lives by the beach and is still very active. In addition to taking care of everything on his care plan, Kim notices other things she can do for him to make his life easier. “He has many sheds on his property and is always doing things like hauling sand in his wheelbarrow to make a new path to the beach. At the end of the day when he is done outside, I’ll go out and close all the shed doors, make sure things are put away and then lock his car door. At night he’ll suddenly remember that he needs to close up the sheds and I’ll say ‘Oh, I already did that.’ He’s always surprised and happy.”
Last week Kim took this client on a remarkable outing. He often spoke about his childhood and Kim decided to take him on a drive to his old neighborhood. On the day of the outing, Kim arrived wearing her “butterfly shirt” and this sparked her client’s memory of going to Schmitz Park in Seattle where as a child he used to chase and catch butterflies. They drove to his old neighborhood and saw the house his father had built and where he spent his childhood. Then they drove to the “butterfly park” and her client had the wonderful opportunity to share with Kim his happy memories.
Kim Brown definitely goes the “extra mile” for her clients. She is generous and caring and 2 ½ years in, still feels like caregiving is a calling. In closing, Kim spoke about why she values working with seniors. “One of the most important things I do for my clients is listen to them. People tend to talk over seniors as if they are not there. I want my clients to feel that they still have a voice, that they are loved and that they deserve to enjoy life.”