I have worked at Arbutus for almost thirty years. I started here when I was forty eight years old so that makes me older than some of our residents. Maybe it’s the age thing that makes it easy to relate to them.
I love my job. I lead chorus on each wing three mornings a week. It is a very unconventional chorus. We sing hymns, I tell jokes, and then we sing the old familiar songs. Music is so important. It touches everyone…even those who are no longer able to sing but can tap their toes and smile. My jokes make them laugh and that brightens my day.
Now I want to tell you what this place means to me and to our residents. First of all, none of our residents want to come here. If it were anyway possible, they would prefer to stay in their own homes among their own possessions and in a familiar environment, but that is not always an option. Deteriorating health, a decline in mental status, or a fall may make it necessary to find a place where help is available. When they come here they are sad, angry, and afraid but it doesn’t take long for our family to become their family. We visit to welcome them, to listen to their concerns, to reminisce about their families, their jobs, and their homes and to learn their likes and dislikes. That’s what makes Arbutus great…the people who work here and the volunteers who help out so tirelessly. Many of our staff have been here thirty plus years and some of us “old timers” are now caring for the children of past residents. It takes a special person to work in a nursing home. Sometimes a person is hired and you know right away that they won’t last long. They just don’t have what it takes. Every department interacts with the residents and their families. Families are also having a difficult time adjusting to the changes in their elderly parents and their need for more care than they are able to provide at home. They are also sad and feeling guilty for putting their loved one in a “nursing home.” They need our support and they need to know that Arbutus is a good place filled with caring and compassionate people. A young man was hired in our activity department. He had worked in the nursing end of things in two other facilities. He was so impressed with the friendliness he saw here. How many times are the residents stopped on the way from the beauty shop to be told how pretty they look? How many are so glad to be “back home” after a hospital stay? If any of you have lost a loved one here at Arbutus, you have witnessed an outpouring of love and sympathy from all staff.
We are family. We celebrate weddings, graduations, and new babies. We rally around when someone is ill or has a family member going through a rough time and we grieve when death strikes our Arbutus family.
Arbutus isn’t perfect but if we see a problem or a way to make things better for our residents, we make changes and work to improve. We have gained a reputation as one of the best facilities in the area and it is because of the special people who work here. -mf
Contributor: Miriam “Mim” Flynn is an Activities Aide at Arbutus