By Brittany Donnor
In the healthcare community, teamwork is critical as it maintains order and reinsures every worker of their responsibility. However, some roles are overlooked, even though it may have taken four years of college or a training program. Others don’t realize how these team members contribute to the overall well being of patients. Recently, I interviewed healthcare providers in different positions to get a better understanding of their career interests and how it plays a part in the mental, physical, and emotional care for patients.
As someone who works as a caregiver and activity assistant aid in an assisted living facility, I wanted to take a closer look at how each role plays a significant part in inpatient care. My first target was the dietary department. This consists of cooks and servers who are responsible for meeting the dietary needs of every resident. Hannah, an employee at Atrium Village and who is currently in the nursing program at Baltimore City Community College, explains how she continues to learn about people each day on the job. “Taking care of people comes naturally to me; it prepares me for nursing because nursing is all about caring for others.” Even after getting her CNA license, she continues to work as a server because of the flexibility it allows her to have between work and school. She says she likes making her patients feel loved and like they belong in the world, “it’s not just a job for me, I have to make it feel like home for them,” says Hannah, who plans on obtaining her master’s degree as a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner in the next five years.
Keena, a certified nurse assistant who has been in the field for over 20 years started off working in private duty which required her to care for no more than two residents at a time. Now she works in a facility with over twenty residents that she is responsible for during each shift. When asked about what she liked or didn't like about her new job, she says, “I don’t think they pay enough for the work that I’m doing.” With many years of experience, there is one thing that she values the most. That is “getting to know older people and their experience in life, it has always been interesting to hear their stories,” she says.
Keena has many skills under her belt and takes pride in ensuring that every resident is treated with the best quality of care. Her coworker Joyce is also an aid who has been working in the field for over 20 years; she describes herself as a nurturer and has always had a passion for providing for others. Because most of the women in her family are nurses, aids, and doctors, she will be continuing her education and hopes to become a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN).
“I want to do more for my residents and set a good example for my kids,” Joyce says as she explains her reasoning to going back to school; with her family providing her with support and her experience as an aide, she is looking forward to being a bigger advocate for her residents.
Certified Medication Assistants (CMT) administer medications and are responsible for monitoring patients, taking vital signs, and reporting any changes in conditions. They play a vital role in handling and properly administering medication. Laura, a former aid and pharmacy technician, currently working as a CMT, describes how her role is significant to the health of her residents. Working closely with aids and nurses to assess the care needed, “I help the process of them living longer by the terms of medical use”, says Laura. Recording medication dosage, counting new medication, collecting urine/stool samples, and observing patients are all critical tasks of a CMT.
Juliet Moody, an activity director who has previous experience working as an activity coordinator for 10 years, gives an insight on her how non-clinical role is just as important to ensure the quality of life for patients. Her journey began ten years ago, “I became passionate and dedicated to providing our elder community with the best quality of life”, she tells me as she is now the Director of Recreational Therapy. Offering enriching opportunities for the residents of the nursing facility where she currently works; she expresses her gratitude for being a leader and supervisor to her fellow team of activity assistants. Providing centered activities to meet each resident’s needs involves learning them individually. “This consists of assessments, conversation with the patient, speaking with their family members and friends to gain an understanding of who they are as a person”, says Juliet. Her knowledge on therapeutic activities to help with different physical, mental or psychosocial needs makes her role even more important.
“When it comes to cognitive stimulation, I feel as though the strongest programs we can offer our residents are programs that will make them think, such as word games, puzzles and trivia,” she says. Juliet’s dedication to catering to each resident needs demonstrates how her role contributes to the overall wellbeing of patients.
As the responsibilities differ from each healthcare role, they all work together to provide patients with exceptional care. Whether it is hands-on, non-clinical, or serving a meal, teamwork is important when it comes to advance care planning. Every act of kindness is done with love and compassion; each member understands their job responsibility as they work with the goal in mind of bettering the lives of the residents.