The definition of “unhelpful”



I wish I could turn invisible. I wish I could turn back time and shove a washcloth in the nurse’s mouth. I wish she could read minds so she would have caught my frantic thought of “oh, God, please don’t say it”. I wish all these other people weren’t clustered all around. I wish they’d go back to glaring at her and leave me out of it. I wish she’d leave me out of it.
Perhaps she thinks it was a nice thing to say. Perhaps she thinks it was helpful.

It was not. The dictionary definition of “unhelpful” ought to include a picture of this moment, I think savagely. Perhaps it’s true, perhaps it’s not; I have a razor-sharp feeling this is question I would do well to avoid answering. Or thinking about much.
I certainly hope it’s not true. If I am the best aide ever as this nurse suggested…out loud and in front of several other CNAs…well, that’s not a very good sign, is it? I know my flaws as an aide better than anybody except the residents who suffer from my shortcomings. I do try, but I would hate to think that my efforts are the pinnacle of CNAdom.

It’s not that I object to being appreciated and valued for the quality of care I provide. I work hard to overcome my shortcomings and the flaws of the system to provide compassionate and competent care. Appreciation is nice, and I do better work with a pinch of it. But I prefer my praise like I prefer my criticism: done in private. No audience. Most particularly, no audience of slighted fellow aides. Please don’t praise me in front of my coworkers without having something good to say about them too. Even if they aren’t quite as…how shall I say this without sounding arrogant…doing as well.
The absolute only thing this singling out does is surround me with unhappy coworkers. Actually, let me restate: the only things this singling out does is surround me with unhappy coworkers and give them an outlet for their misery. Trust me, if the difference between work ethics is apparent to a supervisor, it’s obvious to the workers as well. Pointing it out is not necessary.
And the resulting, um, situation is not conductive to a good work morale. At least, my morale tends to bottom out after a shift of cold shoulders and whispered remarks behind my back (often while I’m still in the room). It’s very hard to work with people who think you’re either a suck-up or a spy.
Being forced to work on your own because a badly timed bit of praise has given your coworkers the impression you think you’re too good for them…that is not going to result in high quality of care for the residents. And the residents are supposedly why we are all here. Well, I’m certainly not here for an ego-trip (there have got to be more socially acceptable and higher paying jobs for that).

Unfortunately or otherwise, the current system is best worked as a team. On my own, it’s hard to push past all the obstacles erected in my way by bottom-line obsessed bureaucrats. With hard-working and stubbornly compassionate CNAs beside me…well, I can conquer this world, defy the system.
Care for my residents. Figure out how to fix long term care.
That’s a more important question than “Who is the best aide of them all?”

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