By: Ashley Strehl - Managing Editor of Print and Digital Publications
“I remember, at one of the facilities that I used to work at, there was one resident who just seemed to dislike everyone,” recalls Edmond Health Care Center CNA, Shandy Thomas, “she just didn’t want anything to do with anyone, but for some reason, she loved me, and she would follow me around the whole building. I was the only one she would let take care of her.”
Thomas said that she often thinks back to her experience with this resident during her first job as a CNA. “That really set it in for me,” Thomas said. “That’s what made me want to truly pursue this career, because I was able to be the person to take care of the one resident that nobody else could.” Thomas has now been a CNA for almost 12 years and is going on her 18th month as a CNA for Edmond HCC, who currently employs more than 20 CNAs.
Every second full week of June, since 1977, CNAs are celebrated for their work within their individual long-term care communities. According to cnabuzz.com the CNA profession emerged when almost 8,000 nurses along with their nursing assistants were deployed during World War I to serve under the Red Cross Program. When President Ronald Reagan signed the Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 1987 to improve the quality of our nursing homes across America, the CNA job market soared to new heights.
“My favorite part about being a CNA is getting to fill that void where some of their children are no longer,” Thomas said, “I get to take care of them, and I know their needs and their wants and their wishes. We get to make them laugh, and we get to be there for them when they cry.”
According to kff.org, there are currently 1.3 million Americans who are currently in long-term care communities, and that number is growing every day.
Diego Chavarria, Administrator at Edmond HCC, said that becoming a CNA is more of a calling than it is a job. “To become a CNA, there has to be a certain level of wanting to serve and give back,” Chavarria said. “It’s difficult, but the rewards outweigh all of the challenges. They are often the ones that notice any signs of decline like loss of appetite, or depression.”
Research has shown that it is probable that half of the seniors living in a long-term care community are at the risk of suffering from diagnosed depression or will show the symptoms of depression. A study done in Munich states that 75 percent of the 97 residents amongst 10 different nursing homes suffered from minor or major depression. “The CNAs are the first ones to pick up on those things and bring them to the forefront. We really couldn’t do it without them.” Chavarria said.
Since Voyage LTC was founded in 2018, they have made it their mission to improve the lives of all residents and staff within the long-term care communities they manage in the Oklahoma City Metro area.
Currently, Voyage LTC operates Edmond Health Care Center in Edmond, Oak Hills Care Center in Jones, and Skyview Nursing Center in OKC, and they plan to continue their growth. CEO and founder of Voyage LTC, Brad Underwood, said that the work of CNAs/CMAs is far too valuable to go unnoticed. “CNA week, to me, is one of our biggest weeks of the year,” Underwood said.
“CNAs are the lifeblood that bring health and healing to our residents. They are typically the person the resident sees first thing in the morning, and just before bed. We set aside this week every year to honor and thank these individuals for their unique contribution to the lives of our residents. Without them, our resident's quality of life would be greatly diminished. I love our CNA/CMAs. They are the reason we continue to thrive and be successful.”
If you, or someone you know, are a licensed CNA, CMA or LPN, looking for a community with competitive pay, benefits, and perks that reward and appreciate you for your desire to care for the elderly, we are actively hiring for these roles within all of our long-term care communities.
You can apply to our several job postings on our Facebook, or on Indeed.
Becoming a CNA is a career with challenges far beyond any other, but, according to Thomas, the payoff makes everything worthwhile. “Towards the end of their life, I know that they at least have one person that was good to them every day while they were here.”