Sometimes, it takes a little while to find your calling. That seems to be the case with LaSha Tharp, who has only been working in homecare for a matter of months.
Before joining Home Instead Senior Care, Tharp was working at McDonald’s; she was laid off due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. Driving through her town of Paducah, Kentucky, she saw a sign for the company and decided to apply.
She said she had friends who had worked in homecare who felt negative about the profession or spoke of mistreatment from clients. Fortunately, she didn’t listen to them when she decided to apply, because caring for seniors is her new passion and purpose—and most importantly, joy.
“I’ve had all kinds of jobs and I’ve never been passionate about them,” Tharp said. “I just feel like I’m helping these people. I’ve met so many of them that were ready to give up
On her second week of work, she was matched with a couple in which the wife had been suffering from undiagnosed bleeding issues for years. Because their adult children live across the country, Tharp stepped in, agreeing to find a doctor that would diagnose and treat the woman’s condition. She tried several doctors, and one just seemed to be the right fit.
“He just stuck with me. I would go to bed at night and he would be on my mind,” said Tharp. “I finally broke down and called and made her an appointment. And by the grace of God, that man fixed her—she’s no longer bleeding or anything.”
Tharp’s “whatever it takes” attitude has endeared her to her clients and others. That includes spending nights in hospital parking lots while her client was receiving treatment. Because of COVID-19, Tharp couldn’t enter her room; the woman’s husband was sidelined by his own health problems. So Tharp sat in her car, talking with her client on the phone and assuring her she wasn’t alone.
“It’s all worth it. I don’t want to feel like these people can’t depend on me,” Tharp said. I want my word to be my bond. I strive so hard to do whatever I tell these people I’m going to do. By all means necessary, I’m going to get
She’s now sharing that energy with her colleagues. In the short time that she has worked in homecare, she has taken on the task of training other caregivers who might work with her client. She works side-by-side with them to ensure the safety and stability of her patient as they practice standing and walking. Each day, she brings a pen and notebook to work to jot down details about the client in order to improve the quality of care—this helps as her client learns to walk again and regains her balance.
“[The other caregivers] know how long per day that she needs to do her exercises and to make sure that they have her security belt around her waist,” Tharp said.
Tharp said that the seniors she has encountered on the job during her short tenure are often battling depression and feel like a burden to their families. Having to have outside care can frustrate some seniors, Tharp said, especially when she must tell them what to do and where to go—hampering their independent spirtis.
But, Tharp said, it’s all worth it to encourage a senior to push on through pain or depression, being for them when their families can’t.
“Those who seek change, make a change,” she said. “There is no reason to give up because there is always hope.”