Compassionate Caregiving

Compassionate Caregiving
in Long-Term Care Facilities

compassionate caregivingAs we continue the conversation about the benefits and disadvantages of long-term care, I want to share an experience I had recently with a young man that reinforced my belief that compassionate caregiving is not a scarcity in long-term care communities.

A few days ago I spoke an event for caregivers hosted by Scottsdale Village Square in Scottsdale, AZ. Prior to my presentation, a handsome young man named Ever helped with setting up the AV equipment and arranging the room. When it was over, he helped Alex and me get all of our things loaded onto a cart and out to our car.

Since the facility is quite large, Alex casually asked Ever if he knew how many miles he walked each day. Ever said he had no idea. He is going to school full time and working full time. He gets up at 6:00 a.m. and usually gets home around 1:00 a.m.

He told us he’s enrolled in the Patient Care Tech course at the local community college. His original plan was to get a job in a hospital upon graduation, but he now wants to work full-time in a nursing home.

I asked him what made him change his mind. He said, “When I first started working here, I was a janitor. There was a man with Alzheimer’s who couldn’t speak. One day I went into his room to clean it, and I saw his socks and shoes on the floor next to his chair. I put them on his feet, and he smiled at me. Every day for the next six or seven months, I went into his room and put his socks and shoes on him. When he smiled at me it filled my heart so much that I never complained about cleaning the dining room or anything else. Nothing felt like work to me when I thought he recognized me or I knew I’d made him happy.”

I am fully aware that not all long-term care facilities are created equally. Some are well-staffed and offer excellent care for the benefit of their residents. Some are under-staffed and cut corners for the benefit of bottom line profits. But I believe with my entire heart that the vast majority of people who do the actual work in these facilities do it because they genuinely care about the residents.

Ever’s compassion reminded me of the laundry lady at a nursing home in McPherson, KS who taught me all about the importance of respecting older people (even the cranky ones) when she did something very special for my Grandpa Stan. Click on this link if you’d like to watch the video. Grandpa Stan and the Laundry Lady

As promised, over the next week or so I will be writing about getting your “Ducks in a Row”, which will include topics such as assessing the safety of family elders, starting difficult conversations, chosing the right long-term care facility and getting the must-have end of life documents in order.

I got sidetracked today because I wanted to share this story about Ever, a quiet, kind young man who will undoubtedly make a huge difference in the lives of countless elders and their families as he continues to provide compassionate caregiving through one simple act of kindness after another over what I hope will be a long and rewarding career.