Tom was one of the first residents I interacted with when I was a "rookie" activity director. Already at our facility for two years, he was stiff from rheumatoid arthritis, had multiple heart issues, dry scalp, a catheter and red circles under his eyes. On several occasions, he threatened me that he was going to throw himself off his bed.
The general public could never understand the emotional bonding that we have with our residents. Granted, not every resident pulls at our heartstrings. I enjoy watching how one particular resident will connect with a specific employee. For example, I might find a resident "challenging" while my co-worker will find her endearing.
Fellow co-workers in skilled nursing facilities, assisted living and elderly care settings, take note: We have lives, too!
It must be my optimistic nature that makes me think, "Why use a pair of boxing gloves when a feather will do?" Those of you in social services know what I mean when I say, "Why go for the jugular?" You are just trying to help (schedule/resolve/plan/assess), right?
Have you been fortunate enough to meet a hero? I adopted Uncle Bill because he was the uncle of my two of my activity assistants. He simply looked like a cuddly "Uncle Bill" to me. Parkinson's disease had taken away his independence but not his sense of humor.
I cheerfully met our new resident, Maria. She was accompanied by her daughter and son and was noticeably defying this change in her environment. She folded her arms across her chest and gave me eye contact. I could tell by her facial expressions that Maria wanted desperately to communicate with me but felt neither safe nor adequate in expressing her feelings.
In our hallways, bedrooms and dining rooms, we have people who have unselfishly served in the U.S. Armed Forces. As young people, they left the familiarity of their hometowns and created their own piece of history. When I first met 93-year-old Vivian, she was sitting erect in her wheelchair, shoulders squared with her body "at attention." Her snow white hair framed her face and her strikingly blue eyes glared at me.
"Teri does well in school, however, is a social butterfly," numerous teachers commented on my report cards while I was growing up. My 10-year-old's reasoning was: "That's a bad thing?"
Our Minimum Data Set coordinator gave me warning that the social services section was going to be increased "exponentially" with MDS 3.0. I prepared well, but am I the only one who still cringes when we get to section D0200? AKA the Resident Mood Interview?
As the social services and activity director in a 92-bed skilled nursing facility, I am fortunate to share in a precious season of residents' lives. Our experiences with them are so amazing. Truly, you can't make up this stuff.