Karolina Smith Awarded 2014 Caregiver of the Year
Compassionate, fiercely loyal, and an endless supply of patience – these are just a few words her client has used to describe our nominee for Caregiver of the Year, Karolina Smith. To name just one characteristic of this special lady, who has dedicated her entire life to helping others, would be a daunting task. Although we appreciate all of the amazing efforts of each and every caregiver throughout the year, this special time offers us a chance to single out an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the Homewatch Caregivers organization.
It is our privilege to nominate this very extraordinary caregiver that has not only touched our lives, but made a radical difference in the life of one individual. Karolina has worked 792 shifts with the same client since her date of hire, October 5th, 2010 with an absence rate of less than .01% over 3 ½ years. She has completed 26 hours of classes on Homewatch University (transcript and certificates attached) and attended 10 hours of in-service training over her 41 months with us. Karolina always has her Daily Activity Logs in on time, consistently clocks in and out on our automated system without any issues, and informs the office promptly of any schedule changes – both hers and the client’s. Karolina was also the 2013 Caregiver of the Year for the Northbrook, Illinois – Homewatch Caregivers office.
Homewatch CareGiver’s Karolina Smith is named 2014 caregiver of the year!
Call it fate, destiny, or perhaps even divine intervention, if you will. An incidental question lead to a serendipitous meeting. Karolina had a cleaning business that provided a steady flow of satisfied clients. One of Karolina’s clients happened to be an RN that conducts assessments for long-term care insurance companies. Karolina just knew that was something more meaningful and significant she wanted to do. At the urging of this registered nurse, Karolina decided to apply for a caregiving job. Inherently knowing that she wanted to selflessly serve someone that was in need, Karolina eagerly and confidently marched into our little Northbrook office and unknowingly, began the most rewarding journey of her young life.
Karolina’s first and only assignment, since her date of hire in October 2010, brought her to the home of a 61 year-old client named Penny. Penny’s entire world was turned upside down when she suffered a stroke while in the recovery room after major open-heart surgery. As a result of the stroke, Penny was diagnosed with a condition called Aphasia. Aphasia is a condition that robs you of the ability to communicate. Aphasia can affect your ability to express and understand language, both verbal and written. Aphasia typically occurs suddenly after a stroke or a head injury. According to the National Aphasia Association, approximately 80,000 individuals acquire aphasia each year from strokes. About one million people in the United States currently have aphasia.
Our client is extremely fortunate to live in the vicinity of one of the two facilities in the United States that specializes in Aphasia therapy. The Center for Aphasia Research and Treatment was created in 2001 at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) to respond to the challenge of “living with aphasia.” For the past 42 months, Karolina has driven Penny, 125 miles round trip to attend therapy at RIC. Being regular participants at the Rehabilitation Center of Chicago, the staff was frequently able to observe our client and Karolina interact on a regular basis. A Research Speech-Language Pathologist at RIC stated, “Not only does Karolina care for the physical needs of Penny, she also provides an enormous amount of emotional support, which can be just as important as any medicine or treatment.” The speech therapist also went on to say how she was impressed with the comprehensive person-centered care plan that Homewatch Caregivers provides. It was clear to her that our plan of care is based on a holistic understanding of Penny’s physical and emotional needs and social history – knowing Penny as the whole person, not just her medical conditions, and that Karolina was devoted to carrying it out.
Each of the Quality Assurance visits over the past 3 ½ years contains positive feedback from Penny about Karolina. When interviewed most recently, Penny stated, “People become really quite remarkable when they start thinking that they can do things. When they believe in themselves they have the first secret of success. I have to whole-heartedly thank my caregiver, Karolina, for her steadfast and loyal determination to help me to believe in myself again.”
“Karolina has been the eyes and ears encompassing the life of our Mom”, states Penny’s daughter. She has done a wonderful job communicating red flags to Mom’s doctors, supporting adherence to medication, dietary and exercise plans, and helping Mom to protect her independence and provide peace of mind to our grateful family. She listens to my mom and understands how to encourage my mom in ways that my mom embraces.”
Karolina is constantly striving for positive change in the lives of others. Karolina approaches her caregiving endeavors from her heart and from her ears – always actively listening to her client, with an amazing dose of empathy. To Karolina, caregiving is a calling, not just a job. She has shown that she possesses the most admirable of human qualities: patience, empathy, and kindness. Caregiving is a very rewarding, yet complex vocation, with both gifts and challenges. A leader by quiet example, Karolina exemplifies what is extraordinary about those who are caregivers.
Suzanne M. Hosten
Community Services Representative
Homewatch Caregivers – Northbrook, IL