Wednesday, 25 October 2017
Care Partner Wednesday---Identity Champions
"Do you know Mr. Sully?"
"Of course I do. I talk to him every day. He uses a cane and always wears a suit. He's such a kind, gentleman."
"But do you know him?"
"I told you I do. His wife lived with us until she passed away. He was such a devoted husband. Spent time with her every day. There are two daughters."
"But do you know him?"
This was getting annoying. Of course--
But did I? I knew the basics of Mr. Sully's life and even a portion of his history, but I didn't know what he liked to watch on TV, his favourite food or if he liked pillows hard or soft.
"An elder is someone who, by virtue of life experience, is here to teach us how to live." The Eden Alternative definition of an Elder
If this is true (and it is) my interactions with Mr. Sully should not just be a polite greeting and a pleasant "Hello." I need to know him well. I need to be a student of who he is, and always be looking for what I can learn from him. I am eager to serve, but Mr. Sully and other elders can add to my life every day if I let them.
"Identity is a life-story we share with other people as we become well-known. It is comprised of our history, our family's history, our accomplishments, and our failures. It includes who we are and who we wish to be. It is our passions, our interests, our sense of purpose and our relationships." 1
How does knowing an elder well affect how we care for them?
I arrive at work about 8:00 in the morning, just as many elders are heading to breakfast. I realized how my care partners know their residents well. Miss P. likes to be comfortable, and wear t-shirts with ferns and flowers on them. Miss H. wants to be warm, even in the summer. Mr. I. always has his baseball cap and Mr. D. must have an ironed white shirt. Mrs. A. wears a lovely suit with a butterfly pin. Many of the ladies have their hair done every week, but a few prefer just a trim every six weeks. Mrs. G must have her lipstick on at all times.
As I greet them heading to the dining room, it strikes me that the care partners on my team are identity champions. They know the little details that are important--the details that make the elders who they are. They acknowledge the importance and honour them by helping them dress the way that makes them feel comfortable.
Care partner, are you an identity champion?
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Care Partner Wednesday--Identity Champions