Caregiving is more than a job for Jenise Beem; it’s become a family tradition. Three years ago, she was looking for a new career path and asked her mom, a Right at Home caregiver, for advice.
“I got into caregiving because my mom was a caregiver,” says Jenise. “I asked her if she thought I would be a good caregiver, and she said, ‘Oh yeah, definitely!’”
Jenise began her career as a housekeeper in a care facility to get a feel for the work. She fell in love with the people, but she wanted more. She wanted the opportunity to build relationships. That’s when she decided to follow in her mom’s footsteps and become an in-home caregiver.
Jenise’s mom wasn’t the only one who thought Jenise would make a great caregiver. Krista Miller, Client Care Coordinator at Right at Home Southern Oregon, also knew it as soon as she met Jenise.
“I knew from the moment I first interviewed Jenise that she was someone special—a potential super star,” Krista said. “She had a very kind presence about her, and a certain calm that I knew would fit with our clients. After hearing of her experience, I knew she would be a great addition to Right at Home.”
From the beginning, Jenise has taken every opportunity to support the best interest of the clients Right at Home Southern Oregon serves. From attending regular training sessions to performing supervisory visits and mentoring other caregivers, Jenise takes it all on and is known for her dedication and reliability. It was no different when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. During the beginning of the pandemic, Jenise devoted all her work time to one family until they were comfortable with the “new normal” of the year 2020.
“Jenise has gone out of her way to ensure that her clients and their families are comfortable with how she is personally handling her responsibilities relative to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Brooke Fredericks, Franchise Owner and Managing Director of Right at Home Southern Oregon. “She listens carefully to their concerns, addresses those concerns, and makes sacrifices of her own to make sure they are comfortable.”
Jenise’s passion for learning and dedication to her clients is evident in her attendance at every ongoing training opportunity, but some of her caregiving skills come naturally.
“In addition to her great caregiving skills, Jenise has a unique ability to read a client or situation well, enabling her to anticipate client needs well before they ask,” Krista said. “She has handled many difficult cases and worked with nonverbal clients where that skill is particularly important. Every client she has worked with has requested her return. I was right—she is a super star!” Just as Krista predicted, Jenise was awarded Right at Home’s Northwest Central Region Caregiver of the Year for 2021.
Jenise quickly made a connection with Tony, a client living with Parkinson’s. Tony’s wife, Joy, credits Jenise’s ability to anticipate his needs and her willingness to learn as much as she can about the condition, which has made all the difference in his life.
“Jenise has an intellectual curiosity for Tony’s well-being and accompanies him to all of his physical therapy appointments, and she has learned so much about Parkinson’s disease and how important exercising and stretching is,” Joy said. “She finds ways to make physical therapy more enjoyable by incorporating music. She’s even found creative ways to help with core and arm strength by kayaking on chairs.”
Ultimately, Joy appreciates everything Jenise has done to improve her husband’s quality of life. “Jenise’s care has given Tony a new sense of control and a brighter outlook on life,” Joy said.
A Caregiver Hero
In September 2020, Jenise was caring for a woman in Southern Oregon when a disaster hit. A brush fire that started in Ashland, Oregon, was carried by gusting winds across the entire southern valley, torching businesses, neighborhoods, and huge swaths of forest and parklands. Over 3,000 homes burned to the ground, along with many of the restaurants and businesses the community frequented on a regular basis. The client’s sons, Bruce and Brian, said that in addition to the fire, the air was virtually unbreathable, with dense smoke spreading across the county, creating a dangerous environment for everyone, particularly seniors.
“While helicopters flew overhead, dropping their loads of water in a futile effort to contain the growing blaze, Jenise took the initiative to help my mother evacuate her residence and go to Jenise’s own home,” Bruce said. “Jenise took care of all of my mother’s needs until the roads cleared enough for my brother to drive there and pick her up late that night when things were starting to settle down.”
The family is grateful for the care Jenise provides, and recognizes the life-saving decisions Jenise made that day.
“Jenise is far and away my mother's favorite caregiver, and we are so very grateful for her care, concern, and especially her actions on that horrible day,” Brian said. “I don’t know what we would have done without her; she saved my mother’s life.”