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News >  Spokane

On the Front Lines: Home health care worker sees fewer clients, helps out elderly neighbors during pandemic

April 27, 2020 Updated Mon., April 27, 2020 at 7:02 p.m.

Jennifir Scheele, home health care worker for Addus HomeCare, is photographed at her home in Spokane on Friday, April 24, 2020. She is an essential worker and is continuing to provide home health care during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)
Jennifir Scheele, home health care worker for Addus HomeCare, is photographed at her home in Spokane on Friday, April 24, 2020. She is an essential worker and is continuing to provide home health care during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)

Editor’s note: On the Front Lines recognizes those in the community who are confronting the coronavirus pandemic head-on, while the rest of us do our part by stepping back.

After Jennifir Scheele took care of her grandfather until his death, she decided helping people live at home as long as possible was her calling.

Scheele became a caregiver for Addus HomeCare in August.

“I went from a stay-at-home mom to a caregiver,” Scheele said. “I love to help people and love to care for them.”

Taking care of her own grandfather came naturally to Scheele. She said she treasured the fact that he didn’t have to go into an assisted living home.

“I kind of felt like it was a good calling for me, because I was happy doing it,” Scheele said.

Scheele’s goal was to help elderly people or those with special needs to stay in their own homes, which she said often keeps them alive longer.

“I help them do what they need to do so they can live in their own homes and not go into an assisted living,” Scheele said.

The new job wasn’t without a learning curve though, Scheele said.

“It was really nerve-racking to start, but once you get to know them it gets a lot easier,” Scheele said.

Not long after adjusting into her new job, the coronavirus pandemic began to spread across Washington.

At the time, Scheele was taking care of multiple clients. Now she sees just one.

“The majority of our clients have some kind of underlying condition,” Scheele said.

Scheele spends more time with her one client and said Addus was considerate of what both she and her client were comfortable with.

“They have been really considerate and really understanding about the way I feel about it,” Scheele said.

With fewer visitors and outings canceled, Scheele said her client has been struggling, too.

“She’s going crazy – I’m going crazy,” Scheele said. “It’s so different being in isolation now.”

Scheele is the only person in her family who leaves the house right now. Her husband works in construction and is currently unemployed because of the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order. He facilitates distance learning for the couple’s two children while Scheele works.

She also runs errands, not only for her client, but also for her elderly neighbors.

“I also help my neighbors who are elderly and I don’t want them going out of their homes,” Scheele said.

Scheele said her giving spirit comes from her grandmother, who made it a point to help everyone she could and instilled that idea in Scheele.

“I’m trying to instill it in my kids to help whenever they can, and luckily they have big hearts,” Scheele said.

When it comes to loved ones who need care during the pandemic, Scheele encourages families to have an “open mind and open heart.”

“Everybody just needs to have patience with everybody else,” Scheele said. “We’re in this together.”

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