Some caregiving moments are priceless

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Watching a resident jump out of an airplane. Seeing a resident die holding her loved ones. Improving the dining experience at a community. These are some of our readers' most memorable moments. Read on to see why.

A few months ago, we ran a Reader Poll question (see the bottom of the McKnight's home page for the latest one) on readers' most memorable moments in long-term care. I was deeply moved by the answers we received.

Here's a sampling (you may want to grab a Kleenex):

Watching a resident fulfill his wish of jumping out of “a perfectly good airplane” was one of Raymond Prudencio's most memorable moments.

“The moment occurred simply because the employees at our facility cared enough to ask a resident the question, ‘If you could do anything in the next month, year, whatever … what would it be?' And the response from him was, ‘Skydive,'” said the administrator of The Terrace at Fleming Island, in Orange Park, FL.

“The joy felt that day by everyone from the resident and skydive instructor to the director of nursing and activities director was incredible and what life in a nursing home should be about—making the most of and enjoying the time we are given on this earth.”

And then there's the story about a beloved 101-year-old resident who died in a most dignified way:

“The family was keeping a watch and didn't want her to be alone when she went to heaven, so two of her granddaughters were staying the night with her,” recalled Tracey Mayén, director of social work at Conesus Lake Nursing Home, in Livonia, NY. “At one point we went in to check in and see how things were going and one (adult) granddaughter was lying in bed with her and the other was lying across her lap.

“Family to them was the most important value in their lives and this resident went to heaven just like that, holding two of her babies, knowing that they will all be OK. This was the most perfect end to her journey on Earth, and my most memorable moment in our home.”

Now do you see what I mean about the tissue? Here's a couple more that are sure to make you sigh:

Dawn Ciokan, director of clinical services at Century Care Management, was overwhelmed by the experience of creating a “fine dining” experience for residents in geri-chairs.

“Tables were placed to allow room for the geri-chairs, linen tablecloths and napkins were used as well as having flowers on the table. The night we initiated this was like opening night at a fine restaurant.

“We came up to a resident who had been at the facility for over 10 years and of that time, the resident had been in a geri-chair for eight of those 10. I leaned over and asked her what she thought about the dining room. She looked up at me with big tears in her eyes and said very softly, ‘This is the first time in a long time I have felt like a real human being. Thank you for making all of us feel special.'”

Finally, Sondra Eppard, a long-term care administrator in the greater Denver area, was overcome with emotion after she learned that a deceased resident had left $10,000 to employees in 2008.

“I was completely overwhelmed with joy and happiness,” she wrote. “When the check was presented to me I cried.”

You know those MasterCard commercials about priceless moments? I don't think you can put a dollar amount on these experiences. And it takes a caregiver to really understand that. 

*Check out these and other answers to the Reader Poll question on memorable moments in the upcoming March issue of McKnight's Long-Term Care News.

Daily Editors' Notes

McKnight's Daily Editors' Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news and issues. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor, Editor James M. Berklan, Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman and Staff Writer Marty Stempniak.