The Calling to Care — Why I’m a Caregiver

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A caregiver is defined as a person who provides direct care to another. Many people take on the role of caregiving during their lifetime, whether it be for their own children, family members or parents as they age.

For some, caregiving is more than an experience, it’s a calling. Each year National Caregivers Day celebrates individuals who have made the act of caregiving their career, specifically honoring those in long-term care professions.

As a leading provider of senior care across the Northeast, Elderwood’s senior care communities employ thousands of health care professionals who dedicate their lives to caring for others. Whether serving as a support aide, nurse, or therapy specialist, these individuals provide unwavering care and compassion each day, putting the health and happiness of residents first.

This National Caregivers Day, we asked some of our Elderwood caregivers to tell us more about why they became caregivers, and what they love most about their vocation.

Dillon Shafer, RN at Elderwood at Waverly.

Admissions nurse Dillon Shafer, RN at Elderwood at Waverly did not plan on entering the field of healthcare. In fact, he hoped to pursue a career as a history or English teacher. Shafer’s grandmother encouraged him to consider a career in nursing where he could make a difference in the lives of others. “I never thought I’d have a career in long-term care” states Shafer. “It can be exhausting, physically, mentally, emotionally, but from my experience, it is the best area of health care to be in.”

In his role as admissions nurse, Shafer is able to help patients transition from a hospital setting to subacute rehab, ensuring a seamless continuation of their care plan. Shafer also enjoys the relationships he’s able to build with each resident. “The best part of being a caregiver is the connections you make with residents. I love hearing their back stories and learning about their lives.” 

Caitlin Burch, registered nurse at Elderwood of Scallop Shell at Wakefield.

Caitlin Burch, registered nurse at Elderwood of Scallop Shell at Wakefield, works in the short-term rehabilitation unit, and most recently has stepped in as shift supervisor for the facility’s quarantine unit. Burch’s career dreams were always centered on health care. At age 18 she earned her EMT certification, and later went on to earn a degree in medical lab sciences. Ultimately Burch felt more drawn to direct patient care, and she went on to pursue her nursing degree.

Burch acknowledges the fact that the job can be stressful, especially under today’s conditions. However, she cherishes getting to know her residents, and becoming a part of their family.

“My favorite part of being a caregiver is the ability to make small differences in the residents’ days,” says Burch, “even something as simple as the way you communicate can have a huge impact.”

Jeffrey Corless, certified nursing assistant at Elderwood at Liverpool.

For Jeffrey Corless, certified nursing assistant at Elderwood at Liverpool his career was inspired by caring for his grandmother who had become ill, and through a recommendation from a friend. “When a friend of mine that worked at Elderwood suggested the CNA Training Program, I decided to give it a shot,” Corless continues, “I didn’t know then how much I would come to love the field.”

As a caregiver, Corless finds joy in helping his residents to look and feel their best. “I make sure they are well dressed or have their hair and makeup done, or a nice clean shave.” Corless states, “I tell others that if you look good, you feel good, and I am happy to do that for my residents.” A common thread rings true among Elderwood caregivers, a career in subacute care provides purpose, fulfillment and meaningful relationships. Corless summarizes; “It’s a very rewarding career field. Most days you love it, others are challenging and can be difficult, but the good days far outweigh the bad.”

Could caregiving be your calling too? Click here to learn more about careers with Elderwood.