Thursday, September 30, 2010

Night Shift Polly, coming soon!

As I wrote about in "(Temporarily) Hanging up my Stethoscope", I've been job hunting since leaving my last AL facility.

I started my final shift there pretty sad, and I did get teary saying goodbye to one of my favorite residents: Miss Millie. Miss Millie moved in right when I started working at the facility, and came to Assisted Living following a leg amputation. I was the first one there to help her with a shower, and she told me how much she appreciated knowing she was safe and wouldn't fall, and that I made it a comfortable experience for her. She feels self-conscious about her leg, and was anxious about having anyone see it, but she said I never made her feel uncomfortable. Miss Millie is an absolute sweetheart, on the younger end, and was always a pleasure to take care of; she'd show me the cute little outfits she got for her grandbabies, joke around with me, and fill me in on all the updates from the days I wasn't there. I gave her my phone number, so hopefully Miss Millie and I can keep in touch; there aren't any rules against that now that I don't work at her residence anymore. Hooray!

That final shift, though, apart from my goodbye with Miss Millie? It really kind of sucked. The night shift girl who was supposed to be coming in called off, and the new Nurse I was working under that night is one of those million-mph-always-in-a-kerfluffle people, so she didn't get that handled with any speed. I ended up having to stay more than 2 hours late until a fill-in could come and take over. Ugh. So I was glad to be leaving by that time, let me tell you!

With my job hunt, I went to every AL facility in my county, except for 2 because I already had offers before I got to them. I went to locked dementia units, I went to big national chain retirement communities, and I went to a janky run-down nursing home. I didn't apply at many Skilled Nursing facilities because I'm still not certified, just registered, as a Nursing Assistant. So I'm unqualified for the very medical side of things.

By the end of my applications, I had 3 offers: one at a super-crummy place (to work 2night shifts/week in their Alzheimers unit), one at this ADORABLE memory care place close to home (any shift I want, day and night are full-time, evening isn't) and one at a Very Well Known memory care place that does a lot of continuing education courses (5 nights shifts/week).

I took the adorable one close to home, mainly because with my schedule, night shift is the only one I can do, and they have 4 on, 4 off, rather than 5 on, 2 off, like most places. If I can work 32 hours a week and get benefits, rather than 40, I'll do it. I still have my part-time job at the homecare agency, and I'm committed to them through October.

So what's so adorable about the one I took? Well, first of all, the lobby (where they do the activities) looks like a frickin' Children's Museum. It's so, so sweet. They have a good schedule of activities, and the facility is clean and doesn't smell like urine or anything. Secondly, I like the layout; two wings with 3 halls, so each caregiver has a max of 10 residents to care for. The dining rooms are small and homey, so you're not feeling like you're feeding people in an airplane hangar. They have a small kitchen where day and evening shift can take the residents to bake cookies or let them wash dishes (or play in the water pretending to wash dishes, whatever they're up for). And they have a little "nursery" room (people with severe dementia often enjoy playing with baby dolls because it's such an instinctual thing, and many of them had babies of their own, way back when, so it can bring them back to a pleasant time and be soothing).

I observed resident care, and family interactions when I was there, and was pleased by both. The staff seem to really know their residents, and to be organized about keeping their health information up-to-date. They spoke to the residents kindly, even when what they had to say was "Hang on a sec" and even the front desk receptionist was able to tell funny stories about individual residents to visiting family members, which shows good communication.

I start orientation at the Adorable place next week. I really hope it'll be a good fit for me and that I won't be kicking myself for choosing it over the Well Known Place. I'm 100% certain I made the right decision in saying no to the super janky, crummy one.

And as for the facility I just left? It's in a difficult state right now. The Head Honcho Man just "resigned" (read: got told to quit or be fired) after some of his stuff came to light. According to the gossip, he was doing shady business practices (accepting and keeping residents who were inappropriate for the care offered there) and having an affair with one of his employees. Which is how he met his current wife. At his last job. Where he also "resigned". Ouch.

So all in all, it looks like I got out just in time, and I'm very hopeful about my future in this eldercare world of ours.


  1. It's good to see you found a replacement job so easily! I've been having a difficult time of it myself, which isn't aided much by the fact that my test date got pushed to December. How were you able to find it?


  2. Hi Zac, sorry your test date got postponed! I found my job by printing out the list of all the "boarding homes" in my county (boarding homes is what they're called on the medicare site, I don't know why). I made up some resumes and went to all the facilities, introducing myself to the receptionists and asking if they had openings for caregivers. Since I'm not certified, I make a little less per hour than a CNA would, and am often referred to as a caregiver. If they did, I filled out an application, and asked for the card of whoever would be doing the interviewing (Director of Nursing, Assisted Living Manager, etc.) so I could call in a few days and follow up.

    The crappy place pulled me into an interview on the spot (red flag) and tried to push me into accepting the job and starting orientation the very next few days (double red flag). The others called me back 4-5 days later to set up interviews. I went to the interviews and was offered two more jobs, asked them about hours, benefits, pay, etc. and made my choice.

    Hope that's helpful to you! As a CNA it's always easier to get hired in Long Term Care than it is at a hospital or whatever. People come and go from LTC all the time, because it's hard work and usually not difficult to get hired, so there's a lot of job mobility there. Good luck!

  3. Congratulations...and I'm glad/sorry to hear that your previous place is in trouble. Sorry for the residents who are stuck there, but happy the big guy got stuck too.

    Sounds like the new place is a major step up, and your presence will take them to an even higher level. They are lucky to have, and now we get to keep reading your blogs and learning from you! :-)

  4. That's quite helpful. I hadn't thought of the caregiver idea, and LTC is definitely the alley I'm looking for, as I may be moving within the year, so the more transitional the better. Thanks much!