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Inspired to Take Care, No Matter What's Needed | Meet Sharon Johnson, Health Care Aide, ParaMed

Inspired to Take Care, No Matter What’s Needed

Sharon Johnson is a lot of things to a lot of people.

As a Health Care Aide, she can be a smiling face on a tough day or a comedian with a joke on hand. Sometimes she’s the person who can open the water bottle and make sure breakfast is ready. Most days she’s a lot of these things.

But before beginning her career in Manitoba 17 years ago, she was a daughter, and a granddaughter — and Sharon and her grandmother were close.

Sharon’s mom was a young mother, so her grandmother helped out a lot. “She was my caregiver, like my second mother,” said Sharon. “She did a lot for me.”

When Sharon’s grandmother went blind quite young, the roles reversed, and Sharon was the one helping out and taking care.

That’s part of the reason she was drawn to a life caring for others, but not all of it.

“In some ways I’m honouring my grandmother, but in other ways it’s what I love to do. I just love my job. I couldn’t see myself doing anything else.”

What really motivates Sharon is, “To wake up in the morning to go out and help somebody who can’t help themselves. To make somebody smile. The beautiful smile on their face that tells me ‘thank you for doing this for me,’” she says.

It’s a big job on the best of days. Sharon has more than a dozen clients who rely on her to help with medicine and personal care needs, move the room around to be more accessible, cook, talk and spend time.

For many of Sharon’s clients during the COVID-19 pandemic, she’s the person they see most often, and in some cases, their only social connection.

“Most of them usually have visitors from church, or friends to come play cards,” she said. “Now they’re so isolated. When they see you coming in with a smiling face, they’re so excited.”

It was tough at first. With so much fear early on in the pandemic, many clients who need home care health services were naturally concerned about the virus coming in with their health care aides.

“They’re scared you’re going to bring the virus in. You have to explain to clients all of the precautions, all of the PPE, remind them about the sanitizing and handwashing,” said Sharon. “You have to protect yourself and protect them.”

After months of continued care and service, Sharon says her clients are feeling safer. It’s a part of the role to communicate well and be patient, not just with COVID-19.

“The simple stuff that some clients need — you have to be very caring,” she said. “You need to have patience and good communication skills. And you have to be very dedicated.”

For Sharon, communication is key for all parts of the job for Sharon. “I stick with ParaMed because I love the communication with the clients, the teamwork, the people in the office. It works perfectly for me,” she said.

It’s also what she has in mind when she thinks of the #ChooseToChallenge theme of International Women’s Day — speak up and talk it out.

When something isn’t working how it should for a client, or she has an idea for improvements, she reaches out. “As women, we should be able to speak out. Not to keep anything within us, whatever challenges we come across,” said Sharon.