“We only have one life,” says Lakiescha Hill, our October Aide of the Month. “I lead my life like, ‘How do I want to be remembered?’ And my life is work. I’m at work more than I’m at home.” Lakiescha takes on extra shifts, works two jobs as a caregiver, and always goes the extra mile with her clients. She does all this because compassion is her business and her life.
Lakiescha’s compassion was sparked as a child by early exposure to people with disabilities. One of her favorite tv shows featured people in wheelchairs, and her elementary school integrated kids with various physical disabilities into the classroom. These experiences inspired her to become a certified nursing assistant working in nursing homes until she was introduced to home care in 1994. Home care was an immediate fit, and she was even awarded “Home Health Aide of the Year” by Mayor Bill Johnson in 1996. She also attended college, focusing on human studies, with the aim of getting into administration. Although her intelligence and charisma make her a natural leader, Lakiescha soon discovered she was better suited for hands-on care.
Today, Lakiescha has been in the busines of compassion for 28 years, working for numerous agencies, and has a highly professional approach to her work. She remembers the detailed needs and preferences of each of her clients, always does more than is expected, and tries to keep her clients motivated. “Our job is to keep their spirits up,” she says. While offering tireless service to her clients when they need it, she also encourages an independent state of mind, reminding them what they can do for themselves. Lakiescha works hard because she knows the importance of caregiving. “We’re all an accident away from being disabled,” says Lakiescha. So, everyday, she strives to be the type of caregiver she herself would want.
Throughout her career, Lakiescha has seen that many people are not comfortable interacting with people with disabilities. “Some people equate being in a wheelchair with not being able to speak,” she says. “When I take my client to a restaurant, [the waiter] will start talking to me first. And I say, ‘She can talk. Why do you assume because she’s in a wheelchair, she can’t talk? She talks more than I do.’” Lakiescha has seen this time and time again. “And doctors do it, too! I’m like, ‘This has been your patient before you ever saw me. Why are you directing all the questions to me? Ask them. They can talk.” Lakiescha’s advice is: When interacting with a person with disabilities who is accompanied by an aide, always speak directly to the person with disabilities first. If they can’t speak or have trouble communicating, the aide will let you know.
Lakiescha is ideally suited to the business of compassion and has been a gift to countless people along the way. But the greatest gift is the one her career has given her: where to find joy. “What gives me joy? Being able to get up every morning and do for myself what I get paid to do for other people. It’s such a gift.”