I work in an aged care setting and every day I learn more and more about the value of each person and also the value I bring in my job as a nurse. Each and every one of us shines a different angle of the one ‘human diamond’.
Elders entering the aged care setting are not busting to get there. They come in trepidation, mostly acutely aware that this is the final phase of this life cycle. They wonder if there will be people that they can talk to, who will befriend them? They worry about who to talk to about their many worries and often they cannot remember once they have been told. They get lost finding their way around the building and for the first couple of weeks will be found ‘far from home’, the main part of which has now diminished to one bedroom, come sitting room and a bathroom. They can feel abandoned by their families and at the same time feel like a burden to them. Some move into care after spending 60 odd years in the one home.
The amazing part of working in aged care is in getting to know our residents and understanding what may be happening for them; each one unique. There are many opportunities in a very busy working environment to confirm our residents’ worth and equality regardless of age. Whilst the physical and mental capacity has and continues to decline there is spark in each person that ignites when the simple art of engagement is held to it. Getting yesterdays’ bread from the kitchen for Polly the Cockatiel supports one resident. Allowing another to sleep in each morning, seeing past his grumpiness to the cheeky sense of humour that lies underneath, supports him to be who he is without judgement or demands.
Valuing the importance of each task and of each person reminds us of the value of our work in aged care. It is only when a task becomes a chore (and some tasks are not pleasant) that we lose touch with the value of the person for whom we are caring. It is then that we also lose touch with the value of what we have to offer our residents and equally our colleagues.
It takes a combined team approach to care for and value our residents in aged care and each aspect is equal to the other. No cleaning, no food, no maintenance, no quality assurance and safety regulations would result in chaos and an unworkable arrangement.
It is therefore vitally important to stop and deeply appreciate every move and action that is brought to our work in aged care and to hold up to the light the human diamond that we all are – residents, their families and staff alike – never to undervalue, but to appreciate and value the beauty, uniqueness and depth of the ‘human diamond’ that we handle every day.