Direct Care Professional Spotlight : A Regular Feature of Direct Care Workers

oxenfordValerie Oxenford

CNA, Rehab Aide, Transport Aide 

Where I work:  
Oaknoll Retirement Residence 

Recent accomplishments:  
Getting on the Leadership Council.

My favorite part of caregiving: 
The residents and their families. They make me smile on a daily basis. There is never a dull moment. I love learning about their lives.

Something I’d like to change about the caregiving profession: The pay. If nothing else the pay. The Caregivers really don’t get paid enough for what they do. Seems like the people who are paid the least are the people taking care of our parents and our children…. Our future and our past.

How will caregiving change in the next ten years? 
Hopefully Caregiving will change by the education they are required to have to obtain the job.

My advice to employers about what they need to do to recruit and retain direct care workers: 
1) The training. Sometimes caregivers are expected to do the job with minimal training. 2) Continued education. Where I work they pay for me to go to conferences, but most facilities don’t. They feel that me being a part of the Leadership Council is a feather in their hat and support me 100%. 3) Insurance/Healthcare.

Something I’d like to accomplish: 
I would like to see Caregivers teaching future Caregivers with Nurses teaching them. The Nurses can give them the medical aspect of what it’s like but another Caregiver can tell them what the real world is like in the Caregiving field. I plan to talk to the local community College and see if I can at least go in and talk to classes and just let them know what it’s like in the workforce of Caregiving. In class you only take care of one resident at a time, in the real world you might be having to take care of 10 – 20 residents depending on the facility.

Someone I admire: 
I admire my Mom the most. She was a home health caregiver when I was a child. Other than that I admire a lot of people. Pat Heiden, Kim Bergen-Jackson, Steve Roe. These are all people who have encouraged me and supported me for the past 22 years that I have been employed at Oaknoll. They value me and all the staff’s input into what we could do better in the Health Center.

Outside interests: 
Oh I love my horses!! I have taken residents out to ride my horses and have a picnic. If a resident expresses an interest in horses I do my level best to make sure they go for one more ride before they die… or at least be able to pet their soft noses. Somehow my horse (Snickers) knows when there is an elderly person on her back and is the most gentle creature on earth. Then I go to ride her the next day and then she gives me a run for my money!

About my family: 
I have been married for 31 years. We have 3 children, 2 boys and a girl. My oldest son has Spina Bifida and my daughter has TAR syndrome.  I have 2 granddaughters, Vanessa 4 and Mackenzie 19 months.

My favorite vacation spot: 
My very favorite vacation spot is my house in the summer where I can ride my horse and work in my garden. I love working in the garden and seeing the vegetables ripen. Then I spend a month canning it all and swearing I’ll never do it again… till next year.


Past Direct Care Professional Spotlight Features

Kathy Leibold

Jeff Weinstock

Brenda Sams

Becky Johnson

Tracy Hoveland

Laura Schroeder

Leanna Gardner

Barbara Carlson

Anthony Wells
Sally Kling
Cindy Ramer
Diane Frerichs
Vicki Erickson
Deb Larson
Dianne Cummings
Irene Davidson


To submit your information to Direct Care Professional Spotlight , please download and complete the Direct Care Professional Spotlight formand send it along with a photo to:

Pam Biklen 
Iowa CareGivers
1231 8th Street #236
West Des Moines, Iowa 50265