Yanira’s Story – Valley Village is Family

Yanira started as a a Program Aid at Valley Village in Winnetka’s Day Program with a behavior group almost twenty years ago. In that time, she’s assisted clients in various ways, including:  Arts and crafts, toileting, feeding, daily routines, activities, giving attention, one on one care and hand over hand help to name a few. Currently, Yanira works in the physical therapy (PT) room at the Sunland Day Program, as well as Saturday community outings.

Yanira enjoys her role at Sunland Day Program, working with clients to maintain or improve their gross motor skills, weight bearing ability and walking. She works daily with clients on treadmills, stationary bikes and tables – for range of motion, stretching and pressure relief for clients who are in wheelchairs.  She and other staff in the PT room at Sunland rotate through five areas with clients, and they see all aspects of clients’ progress and maintenance, as well as enhance their own knowledge of PT.

Key to her job is good communication. Specifically, good communication with non-verbal clients to understand non-verbal cues like eye movement, expressions, hand gestures and others. Yanira’s attention to these cues has helped her provide better service to her clients. For example, she can identify signs that a client is about to have a seizure. “When you get to know our clients, you can learn a lot from just a look or a gesture,” Yanira explains.

Yanira spends a lot of time working with clients one-on-one at Valley Village. She says, “When you build a relationship with a client, you know how to read and understand his or her needs.  Clients are comfortable with me tending to their very personal needs, like feeding and toileting. It may sound like something small, but it’s very personal, and my one-on-one clients feel safe and secure with me.

Her approach to her work is to bring out the best in each client she works with and go the extra mile to help them recognize their potential. “It’s satisfying, and I’ve found my purpose – to provide our clients with good care. Friends ask me, why do you stay so long at Valley Village? At first, it was a good fit with my schedule for my own children. I quickly became very attached to the clients. They are my family and part of my life.”