It was a happy accident that brought her to caregiving, says Virginia Opere. Born in Kenya, Virginia moved to the United States three years ago to join her mother who was already living in the Seattle area. She needed a job, and a friend who was a caregiver asked her to work as a temporary fill-in for her. “When I was growing up both my grandmothers lived with us. I was comfortable with the idea of caring for seniors so I took the job to help my friend and found that I liked it,” said Virginia.
Virginia soon found a job with an agency that placed caregivers. Five months ago another friend recommended that she check out Family Resource Home Care. She followed her friend’s advice, and liked what she saw. So did Family Resource and Virginia has been working for FRHC ever since.
Virginia has thought a lot about the relationship between caregiver and client. “When a person needs a caregiver, they are at a very vulnerable point in their lives,” she says. “We often see our clients at their worst. This is when we, as caregivers, can really make a difference in their lives. We can help them feel that they still have some control. We can show that we respect their opinion. We can treat them with dignity and compassion.”
When Virginia meets a new client, her first goal is for them to feel comfortable with her. “I always start by telling them a little about me and I let them know they can ask me anything. I also ask a lot of questions which lets the client know that I want to do things the way they want them done.”
Like most caregivers, Virginia agrees that having patience is one of the keys to being a good caregiver. “But patience is not enough,” she says. “You must also have humility. You can’t think that your abilities make you better than your client. I always remind myself that we all grow old and will need others to care for us. Remembering this keeps me humble and full of compassion for my clients.”