Being a caregiver has become second nature for Cassandra Titus. She is always taking care of people she loves, whether she is caring for a resident at the Hawthorne at St. John’s Meadows or a loved one at home. It is not just a job to her; it is a part of her identity.
Cassandra is one of those people with a natural ability to serve those who need help. She takes on her role of care partner unselfishly; putting the needs of those she cares for before her own. Cassandra describes caregiving as, “being there for [the residents] when they need you…you really don’t have time for yourself.”
Having spent the past three decades working as a professional caregiver, Cassandra has spent the last 16 years supporting residents at St. John’s. Her role as a caregiver also extends to her time outside of St. John’s, during which she cares for her mother and aunt. It is Cassandra’s view that caring for others is more of a labor of love than a chore that sets her apart.
Cassandra brightens the days of the residents she cares for simply by sharing her own passions. Having experience in cosmetology and jewelry, Cassandra will often take the time to make sure her residents look their best. Every month she also holds a workshop called “Cassandra’s Creations,” during which she teaches residents how to make beaded jewelry. Kristen Patton, the program manager at the Hawthorne, says Cassandra’s beading class is “probably the most popular activity that’s held every month,” noting that even the male residents get involved.
Throughout the halls of the Hawthorne, resident’s doors are individually decorated for their birthdays. Cassandra takes the time to tailor each door to fit the personality of the resident, a gesture everyone appreciates. “Some of them don’t want me to take [the door decorations] down for a whole year.”
Cassandra is loved by the residents, their families, and her fellow employees. “When a family needs to move on to a higher level of care they say ‘if I could just take Cassandra it wouldn’t be so hard,’” notes Kristen.
Residents are quick to express to Cassandra how much they love and appreciate her. “[The residents] tell me all the time, it keeps me going.” For Cassandra, her job is more than meeting the basic needs of the residents. It is about building a relationship with them and catering to each resident’s personal desires and aspirations. Cassandra says it is all about taking that extra step to make sure each resident is happy. “I like to make everybody comfortable and happy, and I get along with anyone.”
Cassandra’s willingness to exceed expectations as well as her love for the residents is what makes her such a valuable member of the St. John’s community. In recent weeks, Cassandra’s unique perspective towards caring for others has been recognized on a much larger scale. She was one of just a handful of elder care professionals throughout the state to be named a LeadingAge New York Employee of Distinction.