One of the things I love best about being a DON is, if I take the time to listen, I can learn great lessons from my certified nursing assistants. Chuck, a CNA/CMA in our facility, came and told me a great story that deserves to be shared with everyone:
As I was getting Mrs. Smith ready for the day, I started a friendly conversation.
I offered her a drink of water. She took a few sips and said, “I’m pitiful.” My heart sank deep. At first I did not know what to say and offered her another sip.
After regaining my composure I asked, “Why do you feel pitiful?” She put her arm through the sleeve of her shirt and said, “I have to rely on good people like you to help me do everything.”
“Then I’m pitiful too!”
She argued and said, “No you’re not!”
I smiled and responded, “Yes I am, because you set a foundation for me to build my structure. I’m your structure and if the foundation is pitiful then so is the structure. However, I don’t feel pitiful because you have helped our society become great. For example, as a teacher, you set a strong foundation for my generation to have a strong structure. I feel strong, thanks to you!”
Mrs. Smith lowered her head, gazing down for a second, then looked up at me, flashed the biggest smile I have ever seen from her, and said, “Then I am a strong foundation because you are a strong structure. Thank you for the spiritual uplift.”
“No, thank you for reminding me why I’m here.” As I headed out the door, I turned to wish her a good day and she still had that big smile on her face. I went back and gave her a hug; she kissed my cheek and said, “I love you.”
I realized that this morning two hearts had gone from heart break to heart lift. This is what working in a nursing home is truly about. It’s not just a job but a reminder that without these great people, what kind of foundation would we have?
So, how about it? Will you take the time to listen to your staff? You may be shocked at what you learn!
Author Frieda Stewart, RN, is the Director of Nursing at Corn Heritage Village in Corn, Oklahoma; the owner and CEO of VitalAttitudes, LLC; and a public speaker who travels all across the United States.