Elder Care: It Takes a Village
Seniors rely on their caregivers, often building lasting relationships.
If you have an aging loved one — grandparent, parent, aunt, uncle, or family friend – living in a senior nursing community or being cared for at home by a home health organization, the people performing the most menial-sounding jobs may be the most important people in their lives. They are the van driver who takes them for a day out to the mall or to the clinic for dialysis; the laundry worker who picks up their dirty clothes every morning and brings them back clean and carefully hung or folded; the activities director who brings music, art and crafts to engage their minds, bodies and hearts; the housekeeper who cleans the floor no matter what mess s/he encounters. They also are the groundskeeper who mows the lawn and manicures the flower beds; the custodian who hangs a new memento on the wall; the hairdresser who keeps them neatly groomed.
My mother spent the final eight years of her life in a nursing facility. That became her permanent home, and almost everyone treated her as if she owned the place. She knew most of the staff by name and would share with me her interactions with them. It became clear after a few months that she only spoke in detail about the employees that I mentioned in the first paragraph. The nurses and aides, of course, were giving her the physical caring she needed to stay healthy, yet the non-clinical staff were the people she told me about. She knew about their marital status and family life, what they did on their non-working time, and their favorite hobbies. Mom didn’t get to know the clinical staff on the same personal level; they had many residents who demanded their expertise, and her interactions with clinical staff were focused on medical needs.
The next time you visit your aging loved one living in a senior community, pay attention to the staff: not only those who are giving the meds or changing bedpans, but also those working behind the scenes to make life more comfortable for the residents.
ImpactDS Consulting offers a training program for those on the front lines who would like some
help understanding the challenges of the elders in their care. The Elder Care Certificate program, designed for anyone who cares for or interacts with older adults, is a wealth of information about issues facing our aging population. This program will transform the way participants work with elders and enhance their status as caring individuals. Participants will gain expertise in dealing with the aging population, will have a better understanding of the challenges seniors face, and will be better equipped with the interpersonal tools to function as contributing members of a caring team. The modules include topics in gerontology, personal effectiveness, communication, problem-solving, and leadership/customer service skills.
Participants who have experienced the program offer high praise. One stated, “The thing that touched and inspired us the most is that it changed our attitudes and the way we look at our residents.” Another commented: “What is the #1 thing that I will use in the future? Listening: Making each resident or coworker feel that they are very important and have my undivided attention.”
ImpactDS Consulting will bring the training to your organization and can even provide a value-added train-the-trainer opportunity if teachers or trainers already exist in your organization. Contact us today at 614-526-8116 to upgrade the customer skills of your “behind the scenes” yet essential staff to enrich the lives of elders. It takes the entire village.
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