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Celebrating Social Workers
by Grace Gannon Rudolph, LSW

In this day of corporate take-overs and bottom lines focused on the financial aspects of health care, who in their right mind would want to work in a nursing home? Answer: me.

Okay, so I've cut back on my hours because I'm past retirement age and a little frightened that someday I'll roll into one of the beds while doing an admission note, but I still enjoy getting up and driving down to Brewster. It isn't because of the grandfather clock that chimes when I get there on time or the crock pot of free soup in the employee's lounge and, it certainly isn't because I love surveys and paper work when I could be home writing novels.

So, why do I love working in this nursing home? Because it's the best career in the world and I can use every bit of my life, disasters and victories, to make someone smile, to ease their fears, to sit by their bedside while they make that adventurous leap into the eternal unknown. How did I get this lucky!

All of us have had bad childhoods or, bad partners or, bad apartments, or bad karma. Why did that happen? Why not? Get over it. Get on with it. Get a job as a social worker in a nursing home and you'll use all the bits and pieces that were tossed into the stew of your life. If you're in the field long enough, trust me, you will use them all.

The other day I finished up a social service history with a woman who had had a lot of bad partners and, at 85 found the love of her life. We were able to share evil boyfriend disasters and the joy of finally finding The One.

I was about to leave the room when her roommate called me over and asked if I could find her turban. We discussed bizarre cancer treatments and our scrambles to find turbans when strangers rang our doorbells.

Bad boyfriends? Bad hairless days? Bad karma?


Wonderful karma.

The bits and pieces of our lives come together when we work in nursing homes and we can use them to make people smile and laugh. We can be the bright spot in resident's lives when they have too much time to worry about the past or what's lurking in the future. We're the ones who can help them realize that, yes, none of us have yesterday or tomorrow, but we do have today. We can help them focus on making the most of this day, this moment, and this gift.

We all have days when we want to give up and get out of health care but don't do it. Instead, think back and make a list if you have to, but remember the lives you've touched and the warmth you've been given by a vulnerable population that relies on you to be their window on the world, their advocate, their friend.


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