Aide's Job has been an Adventure

May 20, 2014 | Home Health Services , Hospice Care , Private Duty | Penn Highlands Healthcare at Home

Kelly Bliss, Community Nurses Home Support Services Personal Care Aide, provides services for client, Jim McCarren, that help him remain in his home.

Kelly Bliss, Personal Care Aide for Community Nurses Home Support Services, has been on a journey over the past seven years that has taken her into a variety of experiences ranging from helping a client with a shower, to chasing a runaway duck that mistakenly made its way into a client’s home. As Kelly described it, “It’s not a job, it’s an adventure!”

Her adventure began when she answered an ad in the newspaper for a Community Nurses Personal Care Aide position. She had taken a few years off from her career to raise her two little boys and was ready to find a flexible job that fit her family’s lifestyle. The soft spot in her heart for the elderly led her to apply for the position. Kelly said, “I’ve loved every day of it. I can honestly say there has never been a day when I didn’t want to go to work. It fits my lifestyle perfectly, leaving me time to spend with my family.”  She presently sees about 13 clients at various times during the week, most for an average of two hours at a time. She typically helps with laundry, making a meal, bathing and showers, and some light cleaning. The ages of her clients range from 40 to 90, with services tailored to their individual needs.  Rebecca Nelson, Community Nurses CEO, said, “Aides like Kelly are what make our private duty service a wonderful option for so many people who need assistance to stay in their homes.”

One of Kelly’s great adventures during her beginning years as an aide involved a duck. While caring for a client in a rural setting, a duck that was wandering around in the yard somehow got into the kitchen through an open door.  She frantically chased the duck through the house as it took flight and left its unwanted mark in many rooms of the house. After watching the escapade, her client laughed hysterically and told her this was not the first time the duck got into the house and if she just would let it alone it would go out on its own. And it did. Of course this experience led to an unscheduled cleaning job throughout the house.

In the same client’s home Kelly was asked to change four hanging fly strips. After donning a pair of rubber gloves she grabbed the first fly strip and somehow found the sticky strip entangled in her hair. Needless to say, she used a different technique for changing the remaining three fly strips.

Clients like Jim McCarren of Johnsonburg are really what make Kelly’s caregiving experiences so rewarding. “He’s like my favorite uncle”, she said. They have been together through Jim’s hard times as he battled cancer and dealt with chemotherapy treatments. Along with the assistance with his personal care and household chores, Jim appreciates being able to talk to Kelly about everything from his health to his interest in birds.  Jim, who also has a keen interest in technology, said “The agency offers so much. It’s almost like you can call about whatever service you need and they say, ‘Hey, we have an app for that’!” For example, when Jim expressed his need for help on additional days his Community Nurses Case Manager suggested Adult Day Services and even helped him obtain funding to cover two days a week at the center.  Now he takes the ATA bus to Adult Day where he enjoys games, outings, a nice meal, and the socialization that he misses by living alone in his apartment. On this particular day he was really looking forward to an Adult Day group trip the next day to DD’s Bakery and Cafe for coffee and donuts.

Kelly shared that when she first took the job, she thought she would just go in, do her assigned duties, and leave. “But”, she emphasized, “it is so much more. I genuinely care about my clients and carry them in my heart wherever I go. That’s the part you don’t know about before you experience it.” She explained that this type of work can’t help but change your life. She never realized the struggles people go through. It has given her patience.  And she has learned to take the advice of many of her clients, to not take life so seriously and enjoy every moment while you are able. She often sees family members of former clients when she is out in the community. Many times they stop and hug her and talk for awhile.

Kelly resides in Johnsonburg with her husband and sons. Their two sons will be in 8th grade and a junior in college next year. Along with her job, Kelly stays busy coaching 7th grade volleyball and serves as assistant varsity volleyball coach. Kelly said with a smile, “I really like my job. It’s fun and it’s flexible. It fits all my needs and clicks every box.”