When you think of a nursing home, do you tend to think of a dismal place full of lonely residents or a sunlight room filled with elderly residents gabbing away? In my experience, it was neither. But I am not bored when I work there as a hospitality aide, because there's always something going on. I'll be honest; initially, it was hard adjusting to its climate. I felt sympathy towards these elderly folks, felt awkward about walking into their rooms just to chat with them, and didn't know how I could help them get out of their rut. But as I worked there over time, I grew to learn things about them and myself-- and it's been a fruitful experience! I'd like to share some tips with you about how I've gotten to work efficiently and gain the favor of residents and other stuff at the nursing home:
1. Listening is not overrated.
Yes, there are some elderly folks that can talk up a storm and repeat things, but since when does anyone not when we're rambling? I've always been more of a listener, and when I'm working there, I've come to realize that my eye contact, my steady responses to their rambles, and my quiet patience when listening to them talk are qualities that are greatly valued.
2. Consistency is appreciated.
I am consistent in the way I make their beds, answer to their requests in a prompt and sincere manner, and make my room visits. There a few residents that I always check up on, since I know they don't like going to the dayroom (where the other elderly residents gather). There's a lady who thanks me profusely every time I make her bed "just the way she likes it" and another one who looks forward to hearing about my weekend adventures.
3. Humor is invaluable.
The random mundane conversations you hear in a nursing home between the residents are sometimes enough to just make you burst into uncontrollable laughter or immediately evoke a smile from your face. But often these residents have out-survived their spouses, friends, and family members, so they have dark moments, and lighthearted fun is appreciated. I make a point to tease the residents, laugh with them, and make fun of myself to induce their laughter.
4. Get to know your residents' names quick.
I used to be terrible with remembering people's names, but we had about 50-60 residents in our wing. After working there five days a week, I quickly learned everyone's name by repeating it to them every time I talked to them, handed them a tray, etc. Basically every time we interacted, I used their name. Everyone loves the sound of their name anyways, and it's important to know the resident's name if you ever have questions about diets or need to bring up issues to their CNA or nurse.
5. Get friendly with staff.
I know this goes a long way in practically every kind of work setting, but the nursing home work environment is extremely tight-knit. I was helpful in making beds and answering call bells, so I made a good impression on the CNA, nurses, and dietary staff. In return, I found them more responsive when I had questions or made requests to them on behalf of the residents. It's an environment where professional teamwork is vital if you want to make the nursing home environment a comfortable space for the residents.
I wasn't always feeling up to par, but one of the main responsibilities of my position was to be hospitable and warm towards the residents. One of my residents told me she loved seeing my smiling face. And for once, I appreciated having a young-looking face because my youthful appearance coupled with my cheerful attitude would quickly bring a smile to the face of sleepy residents that I needed to wake up in the morning for their breakfast.