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Gainesville caregiver named Southeasts best by franchise for service to seniors
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Beth McAvoy poses Saturday for a photo at her Buford home. McAvoy was selected as Region Caregiver of the Year for the Southeast for Right at Home and is a candidate for National Caregiver of the Year. - photo by Erin O. Smith

When Beth McAvoy gets new patients, she doesn’t always know immediately what they need.

Sometimes they need a helper or a nurse. Other times they need an advocate or a friend.

McAvoy is a caregiver with Right at Home in Gainesville, which provides in-home care services for seniors. She was recently named the Region Caregiver of the Year in the Southeast by the national franchise.

“Every client she takes care of, they love her,” said Bill Youngblood, owner of the Gainesville Right at Home franchise. “She’s so thorough and she goes above and beyond.”

Youngblood said McAvoy was hired about a year ago with limited experience in caregiving, but she’s excelled in the last year.

McAvoy said she’s taken to caregiving because, partly, she was adopted at age 3 and raised by her grandparents. So she was raised with a fondness and respect for older people.

“‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you’ was not only a Bible lesson but a life lesson for me as well,” McAvoy said. “After an unexpected fall and prolonged illness, I became my mother’s caregiver. That was my first experience in caregiving. Though life took me in other directions, I never lost my compassion for caregiving.”

Youngblood said McAvoy cared for an elderly woman in her 90s who passed away recently. Her exceptional care and concern caused the client’s nephew to write a “glowing” letter of praise to the company CEO.

“It was really sweet and something I certainly didn’t expect,” Youngblood said. “He mentioned all the caregivers who’d worked with the aunt for over four years. We essentially were her family for a lot of that time ... and it was such a compliment to all of us. Beth was one of her caregivers.”

McAvoy was also assigned in the last year to a client who was a retired college professor. With this client, a caretaker would spend most of any visit listening to classical German music and would receive a lesson in the process.

Youngblood said McAvoy was there for the client during his last days in the hospital and was deeply affected when he died.

“Beth stayed with him all the time,” Youngblood said. “He wanted her there all the time, so she was there for surgery and when he was back in the hospital when he passed away in November. You wish every caregiver would do that, but they can’t all be like that. When it happens, it’s just awesome.”

After that client passed away, Youngblood said McAvoy was unsure if she could continue as a caregiver, because she was so affected by it. But in the end, she decided it was worth becoming a part of a person’s life in this way.

“I got into this profession because I wanted to be a part of something that gave to others,” she said. “... I am so thankful and happy that I did.”

McAvoy said she was stunned to receive the nomination from Youngblood for Caregiver of the Year, and to have received the honor from the company for the entire Southeast.

Youngblood said McAvoy is “just a fine person.” He said he believes a caregiver is a special kind of person willing to bond with people at the end of their lives and to see the value in elderly people.

“I enjoy being a caregiver because each patient is different,” McAvoy said. “With that, I am always challenged to be what that patient needs me to be — sometimes helper, listener, encourager, advocate or friend. Every day is different, but for a time I can be one constant in these patients’ lives. For that, I am truly blessed.”