I have been a certified nursing assistant (CNA) for 25 years, and a hospice aide at Care Dimensions for the past 10 years. Every day is a reward for me because I get to help people who really need it.
I knew from an early age that I would devote my life to helping others. I had a traumatic experience that shaped who I am, and only recently have I been able to share it.
When I was a four-year-old girl living in El Salvador during the 1970s, both of my parents were executed in front of me. I was sent to an orphanage, where I lived for three years. When I was almost eight years old, I was brought to the U.S. by an adoption agency. I met my adoptive mother at the airport in Boston. I felt blessed! I was mute for the first two years living with her, but once I could speak, I kept saying that I wanted to give back.
I attended public school in Salem, MA. It wasn’t easy, but I graduated high school when I was 19 and became a CNA at a long-term care facility. A lot of the patients I saw were lonely. I believed it was my job to make them feel better, and I wanted to succeed. I would read their expressions and try to put them at ease.
Enjoying my role as hospice aide
When I came to Care Dimensions as a hospice aide, I immediately liked how much closer I could get to my patients. My visits with them are one hour; when I was working in long-term care, I had less time with each patient.
I didn’t know what to expect when I started working at Care Dimensions, but any anxiety I may have had was quickly erased by my coworkers and managers. Everyone on a clinical team here is equal. As a hospice aide, I am the person on my team who often sees the patient most frequently. I am their voice. So if I notice one of my patients is behaving differently, experiencing pain, or could use other help, I tell the appropriate team member right away. I want to do all I can to ensure that the patient gets the care he or she needs.
I always greet people with a smile. Patients feel what you’re feeling. Even patients with Alzheimer’s disease can sense a difference in how you’re feeling, so it’s important to always have a positive attitude.
Some patients don’t have family members or friends with them. When I bathe them, give them a drink, sit and hold their hand, or just listen to them, I know I’m doing my job.
For example, I was with a patient who was in pain. I knew that her favorite singer was Barbra Streisand, so I found a 50-minute YouTube video of Streisand singing, and showed it to her. I just held her hand while the video played, and she relaxed. Moments like that give me a lot of positive reinforcement.
I told my sons at an early age that life is about giving. I took them to the long-term care facility where I worked at the time and wanted them to see how the residents lived. I told them it’s important to think about others and have compassion. I still strongly believe that, and being a hospice aide for Care Dimensions allows me to live that belief every day. It doesn’t seem like work; it’s like I get to be an angel. I love it. This is what I was meant to do.
Care Dimensions hires certified nursing assistants as hospice aides to work with patients in their homes, in care facilities, and at our hospice houses.
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