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The Most Unforgettable Staff Persons

August 25, 2008
by Kathleen Mears
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After living in a nursing home for so long, it is impossible to pick out one unforgettable staff person. Many staff came to mind. Early on here, Carl was a young nurse aide who worked the night shift. Being new at nursing home life and uneasy, I bonded with the night shift aides. They had more time to talk to me. Carl was cute and reminded the female aides of Keanu Reeves. He did not look exactly like him, but he did have his build and a devilish twinkle in his eye.

I was leery about a young man taking care of me. But I got used to it. One night, shortly after arriving, I was sick. When Carl got to my bed, he had only time to duck before I threw up everywhere. I was very embarrassed, kept apologizing profusely, and wondered why he was not upset by this event. I felt uncomfortable about Carl cleaning me up. But he did it calmly while he kept me laughing at his chatter. Carl amused me by describing the places he hid during the night to scare the nurses and aides. Afterwards, I settled down and went to sleep.

In my beginning here, Debbie worked in activities. We were close in age and we had both attended Catholic schools. We struck up an instant friendship. I enjoyed talking with her and going to her activities. She sang with and to the residents, and danced with them. She even got applause when she filled the bird feeder. She made cookies for the residents and gave them many hugs. Several months later she and I sat the vigil with a dying resident for several hours. It was something we felt comfortable doing. Debbie was very idealistic and she thought that anything could be changed. As a pragmatist I reminded her that some changes take time. Debbie worked another year, but when she left, she was truly burned out. We are still friends and see each other. She admits that the older she gets, the more difficult it is for her to visit the nursing home.

Ted, a former dietary manager, loved to cook for us. His food was terrific. He always had great plans and ideas which he shared with us. He had worked for a major restaurant chain, so we felt he knew what he was doing. He sang during off time and once did a mini concert for us. He played guitar and sang, imitating his favorite country singer George Jones. He had a Southern accent that got more syrupy with each story he told. He was bright, animated, and always ready to chat.

Annette is a great nurses' aide and motivator. But the most interesting thing about her is a unique accent. When she says "I am passing ice," it sounds like "I am passing ass." Everyone hears that but Annette. She perplexed us early on saying "begs" instead of “bags,” and "regs" instead of “rags.” She takes our gentle ribbing about her dialect well. She is that humorous drop of water in a sometimes stressful ocean here. Some of us think she invented her own accent. I think if she went on "Late Night" with David Letterman and just talked with him, he and the audience would find her banter hilarious.

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This proves my one of my favorite quotes, "To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world." People drift in and out of lives so quickly in care centers and not even realize how they touched someones life. Great blogs Kathy,

Kathy, I work in a long term care system and am going to send your article to our administrators. You know, what you describe as making people "special" to a resident is just so simple -smiling, being attentive to a need, making people feel relxes and respected, working to make a difference, not only a paycheck. I wish we could have a full house of the kind of staff you wrote about.

Thank you Kathy for such an inspirational article. It's not often we get to hear these things from our residents, their families and our bosses especially. To read it firsthand from someone who knows, is wonderful!

Keep writing. I enjoy your articles.

Kathy,

They just keep getting better. Please keep them coming. You brighten my day.

Ms. Mears,
Thank you so much for your wonderful thought-provoking posts. I'm looking forward to the next one!

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Kathleen Mears

www.ltlmagazine.com/blog/kathleen-mears

Kathleen Mears has been a nursing home resident in Ohio for 20 years. She is an incomplete...