This article was originally published in the opinion section of The Tennessean under the name Being a caregiver is a lifelong calling and vocation by Kenyatta Wade, director of nursing at Woodcrest at Blakeford Hills. You can view the original article here.
Caregiving is not just my profession. It is my lifelong passion, and I would say the same is true for others in my field. I wake up every morning energized to use my instincts of loving and caring for those around me to serve our patients at Blakeford Senior Life.
My mom always said that I didn’t bring home stray dogs or cats; I brought home stray people. My parents adopted three children because I brought them home and insisted that they join our family. When it came time for me to pick a profession, nursing was an obvious choice.
I’ve taken my instincts of love and care to serve in a professional caregiver capacity as a nurse for 12 years. Now, I use that experience to manage other caregivers as the director of nursing at Woodcrest at Blakeford at Green Hills, a skilled nursing and health care center in Nashville.
As director of nursing, I work closely with the entire nursing staff to ensure our residents receive the highest quality of care. I make sure everything is working efficiently and each individual is adequately taken care of, whether they are an employee or a resident.
Caregivers are always putting others first, which is true for my team at Blakeford. They set all personal issues aside, pack bags to stay overnight when snow is in the forecast so that their patients are never left alone and come in every day with a smile on their faces, fulfilled by caring for those in need. These superheroes have shown a consistent passion and dedication for their patients even amidst the challenges of COVID-19.
I always tell my team to treat any patient like they would treat themselves as a patient. Many people think only seniors need caregivers, but in my previous job, I would see patients who were young and healthy one minute and then life took a turn, putting them in a caregiver’s hands. We never forget that possibility, and it inspires us to go above and beyond.
A caregiver is not just an advocate for a patient’s wellbeing but also someone who provides support, advice and companionship. They are crucial to our population and bolstering the physical and mental health of our loved ones.
The COVID-19 pandemic has left caregivers around the country exhausted and forced to make sacrifices in their personal lives to protect those they care for. We are being asked to do a lot right now, and the resiliency my staff has shown is inspiring.
Despite facing challenges, my staff comes in renewed and hopeful for what’s to come every day. However, they are human. They get tired and feel the stress of this ongoing pandemic more than most. This is why I think it’s so important to take a moment to show a caregiver that you know how appreciative you are of them and their willingness to put others before themselves. Perhaps you buy them a treat, send them a text or express your gratitude in person. However you choose to do that, know that you are pouring into their lives so that they may continue pouring into others’ lives.
Caregivers everywhere are heroes, and I’m proud to be able to share why their work is essential and should be honored on days like National Caregivers Day on Feb. 18 and National Nurses Day on May 6.
Kenyatta Wade is the director of nursing Woodcrest at Blakeford at Green Hills, a skilled nursing and health care center in Nashville.