I work as a CNA, Certified Nurse's Assistant. Basically MY job is to do all the "dirty work" the nurses and LPN's don't want to do. Sorta like a nurse will do some of the dirty work of the doctor. Yeah its a hierarchy, same thing goes for nurses.
In my short career, I've only worked at 2 facilities. Both nursing facilities with assisted living and skilled living centers. Some of my residents were highly functioning, other residents were completely incontinent. A little background for those who don't know, people in assisted living are highly functioning. They can get up, get dressed, feed themselves, toilet themselves, basically like living on their own but under the care of people. (They may need meds or oxygen) Skilled nursing facilities have people who are incontinent, need mobility help, or can't even get out of bed without trained assistance.
My first shift ever was at a skilled nursing facility in Pueblo. Man I was rusty. I hadn't practiced ANY of my skills in 2 years, I'd been over the packet and the state testing requirements half a dozen times. But without actual people and things, I wasn't going to gain those skills back. Most jobs do an orientation or training, however with an agency there is no type of training. Its sink or swim. I never know when I'm going to get that call. The call that I am needed at a nursing center, hospital or home. THAT call can come at any time for any shift. I've gotten calls at 5:40 in the morning for a 6 am shift and I've gotten calls at 11:15 at night for a 10:30 pm shift. Anyway, I have to be thankful for Pueblo. I teamed up with another Agency (I work for a staffing agency) CNA and we just helped each other out. It was nice to get some of the skills back, even if I was a bit rusty and slow.
Now the rest of my shifts have been at a home here in town. I did some of my clinical hours for my CNA certification at the same home 2 1/2 years ago. Some of the residents I remember working with are still there, some are in worse shape and some have passed on. My days are spent getting residents out of bed for meals, helping them go to the restroom, and helping them in any way they may need. We get them dressed in the morning, change them after meals, and do miscellaneous tasks all day long.
In either case, I am thankful to have my life the way it is. Its not perfect, its not how I imagined everything but at the same time I can function in society, I am able to take care of myself and my daughter. I need to be more thankful. Its hard and sad to see some of our residents, who are sick and ailing that have barely any visitors. I'm sure that it takes its toll on the family to see someone they love so sick and helpless. But seeing how some of the residents just need someone to talk to, I feel sad.
Now I know my job isn't glamorous, it's far from it. I've compared it to parenting older people instead of children. And typically that is exactly what it is. However I have yet to come home from a shift and not feel like I made a difference in someone's life. Even if it is just to be there to sit and talk to for a few minutes. I smile when I enter a residents room and the resident remembers my name. It means I've made a difference, even if its just for a few minutes.
At first I was honestly sad. Some of the people at the facility are just waiting to die. Its hard to see, its hard to think like that. Its hard to think that it is a quality of life. Its sad to think that I could end up like that. I actually came home the first day saying that I never want to get old. Thankfully the nurse on shift that day, reminded me that this isn't how the majority of the elderly population lives. Which is definitely true.
Thankfully I love my job.