Of all the industry weeks, I have to say this one holds a special place in my heart since being nursing assistant was the catalyst in my career.
They say that everything happens for a reason and we are all on some sort of path. I believe there’s merit to that school of thought. You see, what started as a way for me to get away from high school studying each day ended up being a lifetime passion.
During my senior year of high school, I had the opportunity to attend a vocational school to become a nursing assistant and found caregiving to be very rewarding work. So, after high school, I decided to continue down this path and pursue my nursing license.
A lot of the tasks early on in nursing school are caregiving tasks and it was during this time that my instructor opened my eyes to the huge impact that I could have on other peoples’ lives. She was always so encouraging and showed me that I, as an individual, could make a difference and that working in senior care was a great way to do that. She told me that skill could be taught but having heart…that’s what makes a huge impact in this industry.
I thoroughly enjoyed my clinical learning and experiences in long-term care facilities, but my journey didn’t come without its challenges – caregiving is hard. In fact, the other day, I came across an article that brought to light the physical dangers of hands-on care. I can tell you from my first-hand experiences that beyond the physical demands, the mental and emotional toll of working with residents makes being a caregiver in senior care extremely challenging. It truly takes a special person to be a caregiver. So, caregivers everywhere: thank you, thank you, thank you!
I must say, however, that I believe each challenge comes with a reward. Caregivers get to form meaningful bonds with multiple people every day. Yes, it’s devastating when a resident passes, but being trusted to make them comfortable and content in their end of life is so profoundly rewarding. Not many people have this opportunity.
What I learned as a caregiver and from having the privilege to care for my own grandparents, I carry with me each and every day. Caregivers are truly the backbone of the senior care industry and more important than they will ever know. And as leaders, we need to support our caregivers as much as we possibly can. As the closest ear we have to the residents, caregivers offer a wealth of knowledge – given we take the time to listen. It’s when we stop making decisions in a vacuum and give caregivers an active voice in process improvements, that we create positive resident experiences that spur organizational success.
To all the caregivers out there, I leave you with this: Remember why you do what you do and let that guide the excellent service you provide and the meaningful interactions you have every day. The skills that you learn as a caregiver – patience, humility, problem solving, and so many more - can take you just about anywhere.
In fact, several OnShift employees are former caregivers. Each would like to share what their experiences taught them.