Our daughter, Sandra Nash, is the director of social services at White Oak Manor, a long-term care facility, in Newberry, SC (here). She recently posted the following on her Facebook page:
Moments of Thanksgiving at Work
As many of you know, I work in a long-term care facility, White Oak Manor in Newberry. Today I had a couple of different situations that really moved me. As I was walking down the hall, I greeted one of our residents, “Good morning! How are you doing today?”
Instead of what I expected, just a short reply “fine,” he responded, “Good morning! I am so thankful to be here!” He said it with such assurance and like he really meant it!
Wow, here this man has had to give up his independence, many of his possessions, and is separated from his family and his reply was that he is thankful to be here!
In a separate situation, a resident was brought in by EMS after being in the hospital for a week or so. As he was being wheeled down the hallway towards his room, I heard him repeatedly say to staff members as he passed them how happy he was to be back. When I followed him to his room and talked to him, his eyes filled with tears. He emotionally said, “I am so glad to be home! I am back with my family,” referring to the staff and other residents.
These two men showed me how, no matter the challenges one may face, you can still find gratitude. How grateful I am to have found such a rewarding profession!!!
I’ve been pondering Sandra’s experience with my own sense of gratitude – gratitude for Sandra whose relationship with society’s most frail citizens is characterized by respect, compassion, kindness, and sensitivity, as well as skill and professionalism.
But her experiences with the two men also remind me of a profound truth: genuine gratitude springs from giving and receiving love! Exuberant gratitude isn’t the dominate expression one hears in nursing facilities where people are absent from families and where the institutional bottom line is often efficiency and finances.
What a difference it makes when staff members see residents primarily
- as stories to be heard more than symptoms to be treated
- as welcomed guests rather than sources of needed revenue
- as beloved children of God with inherent worth and dignity instead of problems to be overcome
- as participants in the Triune God’s dance of love as opposed to dreaded chores to be done
- as persons with gifts to be shared more than as frail recipients of paternalistic care
The two men Sandra encountered live with gratitude because they know that whenever and wherever we are loved we are “at home.” May we all know such gratitude, and may we be means by which others experience “home.”