I heard the Health Minister talk about how important and valuable the personal support workers are in the health care system. Working as a personal support worker in long term care, I assist the elderly with activities of daily living, on a daily basis. Things like dressing, bathing, mobility, feeding, along with sorting bags of soiled linens, cleaning and disinfecting urinals and commodes, making beds, cleaning and tidying rooms.
I also assist the elderly dealing with the effects of aging, dementia, injury and/or illness and palliative care. Often, it is not a pretty picture. Many families do not see when a resident throws a urinal across the room, or if they are experiencing ongoing emesis, or when they call you nasty names, or continually strike out at you. As a personal support worker, you learn the necessary skills to make sure your residents are comfortable, safe, and enjoy emotional and physical well-being. You definitely choose this field because you genuinely care for people.
After seventeen years of service, is there another place I'd rather be; absolutely not.
Many or most of our seniors are extraordinary individuals, who have had amazing full lives. I love spending time with our seniors. If we take the time, they have so much to share. One day, every one of us will get old. We need to give them the respect they deserve.
Several years ago, my Mother was a fairly active individual before health issues and concerns developed. It was very challenging looking after her in my home for almost a year, she was suffering through Parkinson's and dementia along with other health issues, and then making the decision to place her in a Dementia Wing of a Nursing Home. This was one of the most difficult things I have ever done. I had to feel my way through this: not choose from logic, or the perspective that I am a caregiver by profession.
The one thing I have learned about Dementia is, no matter how much you know about the disease, it is difficult and impossible to be proactive in providing care. I tried very hard. Some days I triumphed and some days I suffered disastrously, still, I soldiered on. There is so much more to learn, life is a continuous process and you can only take it one day at a time.
I understand loving someone is demonstrated through acts of the heart, it becomes more of a gift. A gift I freely give to my mother and your family members. It's a gift of life and love. Whether it is caring for my mother, or a resident of the nursing home, you remember a path of reliance in God, discovering the true meaning of love. Love that is not just about sacrifice, but of service to others. It is about life lessons, about grace, about loving yourself and others around you. I am proud and feel blessed to be a personal support worker and care for your loved ones.
I still have many questions, such as, in our culture, why aren't seniors/elders cherished for their wisdom and experience as much as young people are for their energy and potential?
When assisting seniors with personal care and helping them retain their dignity and independence, you are providing a vital service to your residents. Because as a PSW you are on the front line of caregiving, you also are uniquely suited to be an advocate. You can act as liaison between other healthcare workers and your residents and make certain their needs are being effectively communicated and satisfied. Seniors have a wealth of knowledge, their stories and adventures are like a hidden time machine, taking you back to a simpler era. I urge you to take a ride on their story train, and you'll be fascinated with what you discover.
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