Advocates for Empathy in Eldercare Review My Book, “The Savvy Resident’s Guide”
The theologian, Paul Tillich, once said, “The first duty of love is to listen.”
This quote came to my mind when I read the kind review of my book, “The Savvy Resident’s Guide,” by Yang of CNAEdge. It feels good to be heard. In return, I want to thank Yang and his colleagues, Alice and May, all current or former Certified Nurse Assistants, for their powerful work and writing. These courageous individuals write “from the front lines” of caring for the elderly, and I’m deeply moved by the honesty and vulnerability in their work.
In writing my book, “The Savvy Resident’s Guide,” I wanted to give new residents a road map to life in a nursing home. I developed the book through years of listening to residents — their fears, worries, happy moments, and everything in between. As staff in long-term care, we can get rushed in the demands of schedules, paperwork, and other top-down regulations.
Yet we began our careers motivated by the fact that every resident is a person first. It means a lot to me that Yang, a former Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA) for over 25 years, found my book to be an encouraging reminder of this. He wrote:
“There is very little in The Savvy Resident’s Guide that could be considered new information for experienced caregivers. But in a way, for us at least, that’s the point. These issues are so woven into the fabric of our work experience that they become second nature to us and sometimes we lose sight of the fact that what might be obvious to us might not be as clear to someone else….the book helps us step into the new resident’s shoes because it reminds us of when we as caregivers were new to the system. The whirl of faces and personalities, the jargon, the strange cultural norms and customs of the facility and care unit, were all things we had to adjust to. Now, with a little imagination, we can put ourselves in the place someone who might not be feeling well to start, who perhaps has gone through a sustained period of loss and now has to adjust to this strange new world. Our empathy can begin even before the resident enters the front door.”
Every day I work with long-term care professionals who fulfill the first duty of love with their residents. Together we are bringing warmth and compassion to eldercare. I’m grateful to be in the company of the of CNAEdge and so many other thoughtful LTC workers. Thank you!