As part of the interview process I frequently ask new care staff, Why did you get into care giving? Having spent the majority of my childhood growing up with my maternal grandparents who were born in 1910 and 1915, it was important to me that my staff were in this business for the right reason. On occasion I would be told that this was their stepping stone to a career in nursing, but more often than not came the answer, I want to help people.
Then, one day at an all staff meeting I decided to ask a different question. I currently have six staff members who have worked in our Specialized Memory Care building for more than 5 years each, and several more who are well on their way. What I wanted to know from them was, Why do you stay? More specifically, I wanted to know, why do you stay in this building?
The answer was unanimous, and it wasn’t the answer that I was expecting. Where new staff tell me that they become caregivers for what they can do for the residents, my seasoned staff responded that it was about what they GET from the residents. Whoa! What? On a daily basis these folks can be yelled at, called names, struck, and kicked. These are the people who leave their own families in the early morning hours, or stay awake all through the night to clean up messes, prepare meals, and provide comfort and safety to others loved ones. Through all of that, this is not what they see.
They see themselves as reaping the benefits of what their residents have to give them. They delight in the hugs and laughter, and sense of family that makes up our little community. They stay for Ruth. They stay for Fred. They stay for Mary. Then, when these people are gone, they stay for the ones that follow; the ones they have yet to learn from, but will. These wonderful caregivers give such selfless dedication on a daily basis. From dancing with them in the living room, to sitting vigil while someone is actively dying, it’s the joy and compassion they give to each of our residents that makes me so very proud to work alongside these devoted professionals.