When asked to name a “compassionate career,” one of the first careers that comes to my mind is that of a Personal Care Assistant. These amazing people genuinely care about the wellbeing and comfort of others. They choose this field not because it’s an easy job or for the prestige that comes with it. They choose this job to help others. Often working with the elderly or disabled who can’t care for themselves, Personal Care Assistants help with personal care such as bathing and hygiene and so much more. They perform this loving care while preserving their patient’s dignity.
June 13-20, 2019 we celebrate the 42nd National Nursing Assistants Week. It’s not just a time of recognition of nursing assistants (personal care assistants), but also a chance to recognize the skills and personality that it takes to do this work. Nursing Assistants, or Personal Care Assistants as we call them at Heart ‘n Home, are partners in the care team for patients. They work with nurses, doctors, patients and their families to deliver personalized care for each patient. Bathing, skin care, nail care, mouth care, shaving, and dressing are all administered while they make a connection with their patients in an effort to make them feel comfortable. They also help feed patients, administer medications, set up medical equipment, perform light housework, and help with other activities of daily living.
Because they work with patients on such a personal level, they are able to really get to know them. One of our Personal Care Assistants, Peggy, first had a desire to become a caregiver when her grandfather passed away. She said, “That experience gave me the feeling that no one should die alone.” Peggy loves being able to serve her patients. She shared with us how it’s important for her to honor and remember those she gets to serve. If her patients have last wishes she does her best to help them fulfill these wishes. Whether it’s getting donuts, gambling one last time, or getting to a parade so they could be the Grand Marshall, she does what she can to help. She says, “Knowing I have done all I can while they are alive helps me accept their death.”
As a Personal Care Assistant, Peggy sees many people transition from this life. She feels it is important to find a way to remember her patients. If patients tell her their favorite things, such as chocolate peanut butter milkshakes, she forever associates those things with the patient. For some patients, she remembers songs they listened to. One of her patients loved wind chimes. Peggy found one just like her patients and she proudly displays it at her home now. One couple she served loved flowers and their favorite was periwinkles. When the husband passed away Peggy planted some periwinkles in her back yard. When the wife passed, she planted some in the front yard. These small acts help their memory stay alive.
Our Personal Care Assistants have been described as angels on earth. It takes a special person to do this work. It can be physically and emotionally demanding, but rewarding in return. Another one of our Personal Care Assistants, Abbie, was once asked if she ever considered going back to school to be an RN and her answer was “Nope. If all great CNAs went on to be nurses who would be there to provide our patients and loved ones that extra special care. I love being a CNA because I get to make my patients feel handsome and/or beautiful. I absolutely love what I do, but most of all I love my patients past, present, and future ones. They all hold a special place in my heart.”
Heart ‘n Home has amazing Personal Care Assistants that care for our patients. If you are interested in joining our team, check out our careers page on our website.