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Why work in long-term care?

Posted July 16, 2014 in Advice Column, Winterset

I have heard it said many times, that it “takes a special kind of person to work with the elderly.” Most of us in the industry can’t think of a better place to be.

The personal touch and attention that we are allowed to deliver when caring for the elderly person provides us with the ability to feel needed, appreciated and loved. We are given a unique opportunity to fill the needs of others, as well as our own personal growth in the process.

Many of us enter the long-term care field when we are still young. By learning about, and upholding the “resident’s rights” that are clearly taught to all care takers as they enter the field, we become aware of what to expect for ourselves as well. We learn to build secure boundaries, for ourselves and others.

Those of us who have the privilege of filling the role of caretaker learn quickly that to provide a positive and nurturing atmosphere, we leave personal problems and/or bad moods at the door and put a smile on our faces as we enter the facility. Our countenance and behavior reflect in our work. We have one-on-one time with each resident, and their needs very quickly become foremost in our minds. We are able to come out of ourselves, and become the instrument to a bright outlook for others.

We each come into the field with our own unique abilities and gifts. We are able to use these gifts on a regular basis, and that helps us to grow into better people.

Reasons for choosing to work in LTC outweigh the challenges we all face. We become part of a holistic community and are able to witness firsthand the importance of our work. Smiles, hugs and other signs of appreciation, are always readily present. Supportive co-workers/management staff also create a nurturing environment.

When we decide to enter the world of long-term care, we are very aware that we are sharing what may be the last chapters in residents’ lives. Our job is to make these days the happiest we can. We allow ourselves to be open to the pain of having to say “goodbye,” but treasure every moment we have until that time comes. We then add those memories to the treasure trove we have collected throughout the years of service. Most of us find LTC the most fulfilling career of our lives.

Information provided by Valerie McDaniel, social services coordinator, QHC, Winterset Care Center North, 411 E. Lane St., 462-1571.

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