Ashanti Samuels Shares Her Personal Journey and Advice for Caregiver Job Seekers
We all need a paycheck. But don’t take a caregiver job just to have one. That’s the advice and mindset of Ashanti Samuels, Staffing Supervisor for Lifesprk, who has found multiple opportunities to grow her career once she started as an in-home caregiver for Lifesprk. “You should go to work each day to help people and make a difference,” said Ashanti. “And you don’t get out of it what you don’t put into it.”
Ashanti, pictured in the photo on the right alongside her colleague, Darleen Maidment, Staffing Supervisor, began her career with Lifesprk more than 9 years ago as a home health aide, and her role has evolved over the years into something that gives her tremendous pride. “My son is the most important thing in my life and I want him to be proud of me. I want to show him what it means to work hard,” said Ashanti. Starting out as a caregiver in an on-call role at Lifesprk, Ashanti has found opportunities to grow her career into a leadership role as a Staffing Supervisor. And the sky is the limit when it comes to opportunity and possibility.
“We love growing our talent from within at Lifesprk,” added Kaspara Cochrane, Talent Manager for Lifesprk. “There are a number of different positions that our top caregivers promote into after starting with us. Many of our caregivers are in school and follow our clinical path into CNA, LPN, nursing, or therapist positions.” Kaspara also noted that many caregivers merge into more leadership and management positions including lead caregiver, senior care specialist, staffing supervisor, team coordinator, and campus manager. “As we continue to grow, the list of open positions continues to expand leaving room for many opportunities,” added Kaspara.
“I already had a full-time job as a caregiver for another organization when a friend of mine asked me if I wanted to pick up a few extra hours at Lifesprk,” recalled Ashanti. “Those extra hours turned into an opportunity as a live-in caregiver, something I’d never considered before,” said Ashanti. The more she worked with Lifesprk and her senior clients, the more Lifesprk’s philosophy of whole person senior care started working its way deep into her bones. “The care, attention, and support the clients received from all sources, and the support we as caregivers received drew me in,” said Ashanti. “And the live-in role was better than I thought.”
In her years as an in-home caregiver, Ashanti provided meaningful support that fueled her passion for making a difference: cooking meals in seniors’ homes, taking people for walks, making their beds just the way they liked, adding, “this attention to details means more to them than people realize, and that makes me feel good too.”
But it was the deeper connections she forged that meant the most to her, especially bringing her seniors joy and fulfillment in their own personal lives. “Maybe it’s the mother instinct that comes so naturally to me,” said Ashanti. “I care for my clients as I would my own family – they don’t have to be blood to be family. It’s all in how we treat each other.”
But there was one particular client who stood out for Ashanti among all the others leaving a lasting impression on her she will never forget. Ashanti explained, “I was assigned to be the live-in caregiver for a client who had had difficulties finding the right fit caregiver. She was very particular in her requests.” But Ashanti was determined to create a different experience. “I was surprised when we found a connection,” said Ashanti. “I spent fourteen days at a time with her and even though her memory was in and out, she would always remember our time together as ‘roommates’ – that’s how she referred to our relationship. It worked so I didn’t bother correcting her.” This client didn’t have any family or children and towards the end of their five year relationship, she thanked Ashanti for what a great job she did. “It made me feel so good for being able to establish such a beautiful relationship,” said Ashanti. “When she died, it hit me really hard.”
Ashanti believes it’s not what you take away from the client but what you add to what’s already there, that makes for a successful working relationship. “It’s also meeting people where they are,” said Ashanti. “I let this client drive the experience and I became just her friend, not her caretaker. I went into the job starting fresh and removing the stigma of what everyone else thought about her. In doing so, I was able to look at her as a person and build from there.”
After Ashanti’s last live-in shift she became a lead caregiver in the community where she participated in a mentoring program for other Lifesprk caregivers, and helped others to bring a positive, understanding attitude when working with clients.
“But I had bigger visions for my career at Lifesprk and had expressed interest over the years for an office position,” said Ashanti. “I met with Sara Wilson, Director of Operations, and she was really open to listening to my goals, steering me towards considering a Staffing Supervisor job. It was very exciting to see my career come to this point and I’m very happy doing what I’m doing now.” Kaspara said, “Ashanti is an incredible example of someone who exudes Lifesprk values. As a caregiver, she was reliable and always put her clients first. Because of her strengths, she was promoted to a lead caregiver and then a staffing supervisor.”
Staffing supervisors supervise the caregiving staff within their territory. Ashanti oversees the community caregivers, staffs their schedules, reviews performance, collaborates with nurses for new clients and coordinating client schedules, and provides strong communication for both the client and the team.
Ashanti is very open about the challenges involved in being a caregiver, especially balancing your own family. She encourages anyone considering a caregiver job to do it and enjoy the benefits of making a difference for seniors. “It’s a great starting point to deepening your career path,” said Ashanti. But remember Ashanti’s advice: don’t do it just to collect a paycheck – do what you love and do it from the heart.