For over nine years, Daisy Williams has been a valued Casmir Care Services caregiver. Although she has had several challenges as a caregiver throughout the years, the COVID-19 pandemic presented a few more. But Daisy passed with flying colors.
Daisy is a Direct Support Professional at Casmir Care. She tends to the intellectually disabled individuals. During Philadelphia’s lockdown, she was on the frontline caring for the individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 and were symptomatic. Because of the pandemic, Daisy and the staff had to work very long hours. Casmir was understaffed and was struggling with hiring at that time.
“I’m doing well now,” she stated. “In the beginning, it was quite a struggle, but it’s become a lot easier now.”
Being short on staff and having to care for her individuals under a nationwide lockdown wasn’t something Daisy expected. To make it less challenging for all the individuals, she looked for creative ways to keep everyone engaged. Some of the individuals she cared for enjoyed being outside and interacting with people, while some of them preferred staying indoors with less interaction. For the individuals who liked to go out, Daisy brought in pots with dirt to simulate being outdoors. There were puzzles, games, and other activities for those who preferred being indoors. Some activities turned out to be less than ideal, however. For instance, painting became an art form in itself as some individuals thought the paint was edible and tried to eat it because of the pretty colors.
“I was on the forefront with individuals when they fell ill to COVID because I am the one who monitors or lets newer staff shadow me so they can learn how to care for the individuals,” she explained. “I would be there to make sure they knew how to calm the individuals if they were agitated or about to go into difficult behavior.” So when some individuals tested positive for COVID and became symptomatic, Daisy expected their behaviors to get worse. However, that was not the case.
“The symptoms didn’t affect their behavior,” she explained. “They became lethargic and slept most of the time. However, once they came out of it, they couldn’t understand what they had been through.” The staff was able to tell that they were returning to normal because their behaviors began to intensify.
When told that Casmir considered her a COVID-19 hero, Daisy quickly demurred. She didn’t feel as though she deserved it. “I feel the heroes were the ones who took amazing care of me when I fell ill,” she said.
By falling ill, she meant that she too had contracted COVID-19 in May. Because she had a pre-existing condition and was hands-on with very sick individuals who had the virus, it was only a matter of time before she became infected. After spending four days in the hospital, and self-isolating for fourteen more, Daisy could return to work. Since then, Daisy has tested negative for the virus, but she still stays vigilant about her health and keeps a close eye on her individuals.
“I recuperated quickly. I came out of the hospital and had to quarantine for fourteen more days,” she said. “I kept a list of all the symptoms and changes that my body went through, so I would be capable of knowing whether I would need to go into quarantine again should the symptoms reappear.”
Keeping the list helped Daisy to know if the individuals were exhibiting any COVID symptoms or if they were in danger of relapsing. “I can differentiate between what sounds like COVID-breath or if they are out of breath because of overexertion,” she said. If they have any of the symptoms, she will have them tested, and if they are positive, she will quarantine them as quickly as possible, before they can infect the other individuals.
With the knowledge she possesses as an experienced Casmir Caregiver and as someone who has beat COVID-19, Daisy has become someone whom the rest of the staff can go to with confidence and ask for her advice.
However, knowing what symptoms to look for in her individuals didn’t make Daisy any less nervous…