Leave it at the Door

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Alice

  I can’t believe I survived twelve straight hours of Fox news with my sanity intact. Not only was I still sane but I was reveling in the peace that comes from a job well done. It was a productive shift and the time seemed to melt way.

     Much to my surprise, I have found private care to be deeply fulfilling and full of teachable moments; the same skills applied in different ways which I find endlessly interesting. One thing that remains the same, however, is the importance of leaving my garbage at the door.  It doesn’t matter if I am having a bad string of awkward dates or am worried about finances or missed the Walking Dead. When I am on the clock such annoyances get neatly tucked in my mental filing cabinet of things to needlessly stress over later.

         The ability to compartmentalize effectively is a skill that I have found incredibly valuable in this field. It developed slowly over the years as I have grown as a caregiver. Ours is emotional work but we cannot allow ourselves to feel so much that we can’t function. In my experience, the residents and clients in my care pick up on my mood. It’s important for them to be around positive energy.

        When I was still green, I put great effort in being aware of body language, tone of voice, and facial expressions. One of the first major lessons I learned is that we do not pick our residents. It is my job to care for whoever is on my assignment. Some have been more pleasant than others. That said, I would never give someone less quality care or treat them with less dignity simply because they were challenging so I worked hard to keep open body language, pleasant tone of voice and friendly facial expressions. I don’t have to work hard at it now. It’s become second nature because my thinking has changed. I don’t see difficult residents anymore. I know that behaviors have causes and have learned to problem solve quickly. All skills that have benefited me greatly in life outside of work.

     That is how I can leave my shift whistling after Fox-a-palooza. It doesn’t matter. My politics don’t matter in this context. My client and her husband’s need to express their fear and frustration does. They enjoy this! They are engaged and excited and as a caregiver, that is my ultimate goal. Maybe my eighteen year old self would have selfishly robbed them of that by rolling her eyes and cynically debunking each soundbite, but my present self is much older and wiser. It is through the ability to compartmentalize, I am able to detach from my own opinions during this campaign season and enthusiastically watch it play out with my clients.