caregiver Jody Larsen

Jody (center) with her client, Carmen, and Carmen’s dog, Velvet

This month’s platinum caregiver award goes to Jody Larsen from the Inland Northwest Branch. Jody is a fantastic caregiver and dynamic lead float for the region. She has been described by clients as “the best,” “amazing,” and “all around wonderful.”

Jody never intended to become a caregiver. “When I graduated high school, I wanted to be a builder and flip houses,” she said. But she had a friend who needed to take a class to renew her CNA license and Jody agreed to keep her company. “I had never heard of a Certified Nursing Assistant, but I took the class and found what I was meant to do.” That was 25 years ago. “I happened on the profession by accident,” said Jody, “but I stayed on purpose.”

While it may have been an “accident,” working as a caregiver holds special meaning for Jody. As a teenager she watched a close family member pass away, in part due to neglect. “She deserved a lot more than what she got,” said Jody, “but as a 15-year old, I didn’t have a voice. Now I’m in a position where I can change someone’s life for the better.”

Jody’s first seven years of caregiving were spent working in care facilities in Southern California. In 2004 she moved to Eastern Washington and again took a job as a caregiver in a facility. Then three years ago Jody switched to doing home care. “I got tired of the one size fits all approach,” she explained. “I had 15 patients to care for and we got them up at the same time; they ate the same meals; sat in the same seat. Every day was the same. It seemed to me that people would arrive at the facility and convince themselves that it was the end of the road for them. They gave up.”

“Home Care is completely different,” she continued. “My clients are not on my schedule; I’m on theirs.” Currently, Jody has one client who she sees four days a week in the morning for one hour. For the last two years, Jody has also served as lead float for her region, so her days are filled with variety. “I love being a float. It lets me meet new people and hear their stories. My clients have ranged from a five-year-old with autism, to people born with disabilities, to a 103-year old. But I only said yes to this position under the condition that I could keep my one regular client.”

Jody’s client, Carmen, lives at home with her parents who serve as her primary caregivers. Jody spends from 7–8 a.m. with her. “I use a Hoyer Lift to help her out of bed; then I help her get dressed and ready for her day. Carmen’s not just a client, she’s really like family,” says Jody. “Apparently I remind Carmen’s family of her Uncle Clifford who passed away, so now they call me “Cliff.” We have a great time together. In her room, we’ll crank up the Karaoke and tell jokes. If I can bring some happiness to her, that’s all I want.”

“There’s really no secret to being a good caregiver,” says Jody. “It takes compassion, trust, understanding, and patience.” As lead float, Jody says she also must adapt to change quickly. “When I have a new client I always read the Care Plan first. Then I ask questions. I look for something to connect with, and after that, it just flows.”

Jody says she loves Family Resource Home Care. “My supervisors are wonderful people. They’re friendly and flexible. This is the first company I’ve worked for that actually cares about their clients and employees.”

The feeling is mutual. One office staff member said, “In observing Jody’s interaction with clients I was impressed with her compassion, empathy, and ability to take a genuine interest when a client was sharing a personal story.” Another staff member described Jody as “a caregiver that doesn’t realize just how wonderful she is.” Jody provides excellent care to clients, is an outstanding team player, and in everything she does, represents the kindness and compassion that is at the heart of our company’s values.