Alex Nelson considers himself a jack of all trades. In late 2017, he started school for nursing and during that time also got his CNA license in order to gain hands-on experience taking care of people in need by working in home care. Alex found a job at Family Resource through an online ad. When he arrived for the interview, he was surprised to find people he knew in the office! Branch manager Katrina Bottini’s daughter, Brigette, was one of Alex’s schoolmates, and he’d known their family for years. Needless to say, the interview went well and everyone, including Alex, was excited for him to join the team. He’s been a godsend to the Palouse branch ever since. “Alex has been a constant, dependable caregiver since I first started working with him,” says Sarah Maurer, caregiver manager for the Palouse office. “His clients have learned that they can fully depend on him to show up, get the job done but also make the time together fun and enjoyable for the client.”
Alex came to appreciate the flexibility in scheduling that Family Resource offered. Instead of continuing to pursue a career in nursing, the independence his schedule offered allowed him to return to construction, an industry he worked in for 10 years right out of high school. Alex is currently doing both construction and caregiving.
“I like people”, he said. “I also like construction and building things.” While caregiving and construction are seldom considered compatible professions, Alex has found a way to harmoniously meld the two. Being handy has enabled him to help clients fix things and work on small projects around the house. For instance, he has volunteered to sharpen a client’s knife set for the benefit of both the clients and their caregivers.
The clients, and spending quality time with them, are easily Alex’s favorite aspects of caregiving. His natural predisposition for genuinely caring about people and making them feel at ease are important qualities when caring for seniors. He sincerely enjoys listening to his clients and hearing stories through the eyes of the past from those of a different era. He prizes learning about a life without cell phones and social media when people were raised to appreciate one-on-one time with other humans. He loves getting to talk, have intimate conversations, prepare meals, and learn about a bygone time with his clients.
Alex is very good with people and he takes a sincere, active interest in getting to know them. He is the kind of person that everyone likes. Brigette, Palouse branch client care supervisor, agrees: “Alex is a very compassionate caregiver. He not only provides exceptional care but takes the time to get to know each client and their history. He builds a connection with each of his clients and goes above and beyond to make each client happy, safe, and well cared for.” It isn’t always easy for him, though. One of his clients has advanced dementia, and no matter how hard he tries, he can’t get through the fog.
He’s also perceptive and can understand why the Palouse branch appreciates him so much. Being a male caregiver is rare in this industry and some clients prefer a male. Either that or they’re biased towards him ever since he brought cinnamon rolls into the office. Alex reflects upon how our society treats the elderly and wishes that “everybody did caregiving – for a couple hours a week. If everybody did it everybody who needed it would be taken care of.”
Between two careers and two kids at home, a 6- and 12-year-old, Alex doesn’t find much time for hobbies. When he does, his attention goes to projects like his current pursuit of making a hunting knife and learning leather-working for the sheath. Alex is also in the process of trying to get his own construction contracting business off the ground, as he finds construction is easier when managing it yourself. Whether he stays in home care or goes into construction full-time remains to be seen. For now, we sincerely appreciate his skills being used to help our seniors. As Sarah puts it, “Alex has the heart of a caregiver through and through,” and we don’t know what we’d do without him.