Terri Rook is a certified nursing assistant (CNA) here at the Maplewood. She started as a CNA, worked for several years as dining room manager, and recently returned to her CNA role.
The change was prompted by her desire to work directly with residents again. The CNA role is the perfect position for someone like Terri who enjoys spending time with residents.
In a typical day, Terri and the other CNAs help residents with a wide variety of care—anything from brushing teeth to more technical activities like physical therapy.
Terri likes to think about her role as doing whatever it takes to help the residents achieve their best life.
She first found out about the CNA role through an ad that Maplewood posted in the Pennysaver. After spending several years as a CNA, she put her previous experience in the restaurant industry to work and became the dining room manager. While she enjoyed creating a wonderful dining experience for the residents, she missed spending time with them.
“I like the one-on-one with the residents,” she says, “I like to get to know them, get to know their personalities, and we like to watch how they change as they come here.”
Some residents are timid after moving into a nursing home. Helping them overcome their fears takes a lot of patience and kindness. Terri has both, and it doesn’t take long for her to connect with each new resident. She is focused too, and you can tell when you talk to her that she has a great deal of confidence about her role.
She connects with residents on a level that’s more like family than like anything else. Those personal connections help transform the residents—they flourish and thrive.
“You can see them bloom and blossom while they’re here,” Terri shares.
It’s not always easy, of course. Some residents take longer to settle in than others. There are also illnesses like dementia that make it hard to be a caretaker. Terri simply frames the situation differently when caring for residents with memory challenges.
“You just have to remember that’s not their personality, that’s not who they are, that’s just the way that they’re reacting to the medical situation that they’re in right now.”
Taking a step back and keeping an open mind makes all the difference in a skilled nursing environment, and it can help at home too. There’s a lot of overlap between the CNA role and home care, and Terri has some advice for family members caring for a parent or loved one at home:
“You can’t fill from an empty cup,” she says, “you have to do things for yourself as well so that you’re always there to be more upbeat with them.”