The caregiver king

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Be nice to your employees. You never know when there might be royalty in your midst. That’s a lesson a nursing home in Harrisburg, PA, is not apt to forget.

A certified nursing aide named Charles Wesley Mumbere recently returned home to claim his title as king of Rwenzururu, a kingdom of about 300,000 in western Uganda in Africa. (See the story at
Quiet and respectful, no one at Spring Creek Rehabilitation and Health Care Center seemed to suspect his roots.

“He was just like everybody else,” Sonia Miralda, a receptionist at the nursing home, told me.

Except he wasn’t. Mumbere was sent to the United States to study in the 1980s. While he was here, his kingdom, which represents 1% of the population of Uganda, was overthrown, according to an account by The Patriot-News newspaper.

He was forced to work—and trained as a nurse’s aide to make ends meet. He had worked at other facilities over the years before coming to Spring Creek, where he stayed for only a few months. He returned home recently to attend his daughter’s wedding—and resume his former life. (For more information about Mumbere’s kingdom, see

His story is unique—and uncannily similar to the storyline in “Coming to America,” the 1988 movie starring Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall. Like the two leading characters, Mumbere was royalty in his country but was forced to work in a low-wage job in the United States. There are an untold number immigrants who can relate to this predicament.

Also like the film, this real-life story could have a fairy-tale ending, as Uganda’s government has begun to recognize the kingdom of Rwenzururu. And here in the United States, Mumbere, as a result of his experience at Spring Creek and elsewhere, has made a statement about nursing-home caregiving: It truly is a noble profession.

Ironically, the story about Mumbere broke around the same time as the release of a special issue of The Gerontologist ( The issue explores the findings of Better Jobs Better Care, a four-year initiative from the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging to help improve the lives of direct caregivers, who are woefully underpaid and undervalued.

Perhaps nursing homes can now use Mumbere as a recruiting tool. How about this slogan: “Be a CNA. It’s a job fit for a king.”

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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.