To celebrate PSW Day this year, we asked our Personal Support Workers to share stories with us about meaningful experiences they’ve had with clients. Below, we’re sharing with you a heartwarming story from one of our PSWs, Lita, about her experience caring for one of her clients – in her own words:
Being a Personal Support Worker involves much more beyond the job description. Your patience, endurance, compassion, empathy and other traits are tested, and you’re faced with challenges on a daily basis.
Personally, these experiences have made me a better person. Making a difference in the lives of others is the very reason why I go to work each day. In addition, my clients have so much wisdom about life, and I cherish everything that I have learned in my time caring for them.
Getting attached to your clients is inevitable, and it’s likely they’ll get attached to you too! When you work from your heart, your client feels it.
There’s one client in particular that I think about. I started working with her back in 2016. Initially, when I started, I was coming once a week for light cleaning and laundry. From day one, she told me how glad she was that I was sent to her and constantly praised me on how I did things the way she wanted them done. She always looked forward to my visits.
A couple years later, her health started to deteriorate. She was given more hours of care, so I was with her almost every day. I attended to everything that I could to help her. She would get agitated at times, especially when her pain increased. But she listened to me and would calm down. She started to think of me as a daughter.
She would repeatedly say to me how she felt so peaceful in my presence and that she didn’t need to take her pain pills as long as I was with her. Perhaps a bit of an over-reaction, but nonetheless, I took her words to heart. Those words helped me to care for her in her difficult times.
One winter, I had a visit booked with with her, but when I arrived she wasn’t home. I looked around the building before calling her daughter, thinking that she might have taken her out for an appointment. Her daughter was upset – she had told her mom not to go out alone but to wait for one of her PSWs to come first. Her daughter asked me to look for her at a supermarket close by her apartment, and hopped in her car to drive over.
I found my client inside the grocery store, enjoying her shopping, oblivious to the worries of her daughter. We came outside and met her daughter at the exit. Her daughter was upset, to say the least, and I helped de-escalate the situation.
A year later, my client’s children were considering admitting her into a nursing home. She was adamant that she didn’t want to go. On every visit, I could see how my presence would brighten her face. She’d tell me that her pains left as soon as I arrived.
Sometime soon after, when I was arriving for a morning visit, she happened to double lock her door. I wasn’t able to get in, even after unlocking the main lock with her keys. I could feel that something was wrong and called to her. She responded to my calling, telling me that she had fallen and could not get up. I called 911, before alerting the office and her daughter. I tried to calm her while waiting for help. I was scheduled for an hour-long visit, and by the time the door was opened and she was assessed by the paramedics, the next worker was there to relieve my shift. My client refused to be taken to the hospital.
Her eldest daughter came to visit her from abroad and, during that time, the family made arrangements to have my client moved to a nursing home. They convinced their mom that it was in her best interest. Of course, my client was not happy, but she complied.
I was with them the day she moved to the nursing home. I could see the sadness in her eyes, as well as the confusion. We walked her around the facility to familiarize her to the place. At lunchtime, she was seated with two other residents, but they had dementia and could not interact with her or their meal. I felt sorry for my client and for her daughter. I could feel her agony leaving her mother, and knowing she would have to leave soon to return to her country.
It was only three or four days later that I received a phone call, on Sunday morning when I was at church. Her youngest daughter called me to let me know that her mother had passed away in her sleep, just exactly how she wanted to leave this world.
I attended her Shiva, along with some of her other regular PSWs. I am so blessed to have cared for her and will forever treasure the memories of our time together.