Recruiting is an important part of what I do. As owners of a homecare agency, Claudia and I make promises to our clients that it is beyond our reach to deliver without the skills and commitment to service of our caregivers. Therefore, we made a point of knowing each of them personally to make sure they share our vision and to make sure we understand their motivations.
On a recent interviewing session, I found myself sitting in front of Mr V, a rather stocky, middle aged man who had just driven 40 miles on short notice to follow up on the online application he had sent earlier that same day. He was, at first sight, an unlikely candidate. While his resume and credentials offered sufficient testimony of his experience caring for elderly clients, his employment history showed a similar pattern of consistency in a rather different space: fitness. In fact, it was there where I could have more easily placed him had I not probed further.
On that note, I naturally asked “why?” I was sincerely curious to know what brought him in our direction rather than in the direction of yet another gym gig. “It’s all about the stories” responded Mr V without missing a beat. In his stare I sensed deep and calm conviction. It’s all about the stories, I kept thinking. What a wonderful way to put it.
We have clients as young as 60 but we also have celebrated our share of centennial birthdays. Extraordinary things happened in the world during our clients’ lifetimes. The mass production of penicillin, the detonation of an atomic bomb, the evolution of the space program and satellite technology, the proliferation of home computers and the invention of the world wide web, low-cost air travel, the advent of the ubiquitous smart phone, even the current pandemic are a small collection of events each of which has surely left marks on anyone born some eighty years ago.
But there is more than the changes brought about by these monumental events that seniors can tell us about if we only took the time to listen. Each one of them can be a fabulous novel filled with stories of love and sacrifice, travels and failures, dreams and fears, lessons and secrets, joy and more love. A novel that is patiently but ever more tiredly wanting to be read.
How noble of Mr V to have found a calling not just in serving our elderly but also in longing for and appreciating their stories. How fortunate for his clients to have someone who will attentively listen to their fantastic tales. Upon regaining my focus on the task at hand, and given the experience, skills, and motivation of the candidate that afternoon, I was happy to close the meeting, and the day with an enthusiastic “You’re hired!”
The Discretely column by Eduardo Berdegué is published monthly in newspapers throughout the Heart of Texas region.