According to the US Census Bureau the aging population is projected to double over the next three decades. Further, the trend of young people moving away from their families means the demand for paid elder care will be greater than ever. Fortunately for residents of Thurston County we have excellent quality care available to us at FirstLight Home Care.

Washington State has among the strictest requirements in the country for caregivers. All caregivers are required to be certified by the state and pass a licensing exam. FirstLight Home Care exceeds these requirements and ensures their employees are well equipped to handle many types of clients with varying needs.

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Caregivers that take the free continuing education courses online are rewarded with recognition and enrolled in a drawing for gift cards and prizes! Photo courtesy: FirstLight Home Care.

According to FirstLight co-owner Sarah Lane, “We wanted to provide in-depth training on specific topics that affect our clients.” Caregivers can be certified in many areas such as Dementia Care and Parkinson Disease. In many cases FirstLight is able to match their caregivers with the clients they are most trained to care for. One client, Christine tells FirstLight, “My husband was acting strange one day and the caregiver made the right decision, he ended up in the hospital. It was her quick attention that probably saved his life.”

All the additional trainings and certifications are available to FirstLight staff at no cost to them. As an extra incentive FirstLight runs contests to encourage staff to complete the highlighted certification. Those who complete the certifications are entered into a drawing for a restaurant gift card or other prizes. The incentives are a fun workplace bonus but not the only reason the employees love this extra education. As FirstLight caregiver Quincie explains, “I was impressed with the online courses I took. I learned a lot and plan on taking more courses to expand my medical knowledge and become a better CNA.”

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Jill Miles (left) is recognized by FirstLight Home Care co-owern Sarah Lane. Photo courtesy: FirstLight Home Care.

There are over five million Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease and this number is expanding. These patients require a different skill set than caring for someone recovering from a hip or knee surgery. Sarah described to me the difficulties in bathing a client who may refuse to bathe for a family member. Instead of asking the client if they would like a shower, Lane gently coaxes her by offering a cup of tea while she draws her bath. Simple things like a soft fluffy towel or a scented candle can turn a negative interaction into a positive experience for both client and caregiver.

Additional training helps the staff at FirstLight to make the most of their client relationships. Sarah recognizes that her staff are going into a client’s home and becoming a part of their lives. Matching clients with staff that have been certified in specific areas makes a more successful client/caregiver experience. As Jean noted “It is so important what the caregiver does with my husband. She has really made a connection with him, and he likes her.”

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FirstLight Home Care staffers celebrates the company’s anniversary of bringing quality care to our community. Photo courtesy: FirstLight Home Care.

The state certification program is a very broad education on many chronic diseases. Through the courses available to FirstLight staff, they can go deeper into topics that interest them. One of the certification available to FirstLight staff is a six-hour program on the end of life. Caregivers get very attached to their clients. They become a part of their lives and need to go through a healthy grieving process as losing clients can be a part of the process. According to Sarah, caregivers are taught to remember how they helped their clients. In many cases the staff at FirstLight is able to make their clients dream of remaining in their own home a reality. Celebrating these small victories can help process the loss.

A benefit to the continuing education available for free to FirstLight employees is that they are able to use the information in their personal lives. Certified caregiver Angie says, “My clients don’t have dementia or Alzheimer’s but my mother-in-law has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and the extra training has helped me to be able to communicate with her better.”

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Angela Erdahl is awarded with a caregiver of the month certificate by FirstLight Home Care co-owner Sarah Lane.

Average life expectancy in the US is increasing and so is the need for care as more and more clients wish to recover or age gracefully in their own home. As the need for care grows so will FirstLight Home Care. Sarah is currently hiring people with a passion for caring for others. “You have to want to be a caregiver,” she says. FirstLight will provide much of the necessary training for free, ensuring employees are well versed in all the areas affecting clients.

More than just learning how to help someone get dressed or shower a client recovering from a hip surgery, Lane says caregiving is about creating moments of joy. “We want to help our clients find purpose in each day.” In addition to quality care the staff at FirstLight Home Care is giving their clients a sense of independence and achievement.

If you are interested in a job that provides this great service to our community and a very flexible work schedule please call Sarah Lane at FirstLight Home Care at 360-489-1621. They are currently hiring part-time and full-time employees.


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