Sage Meusch: First Place

AHC Vanayer, Martin

Be the reason someone smiles everyday. This is a motto that I try to strive for as a CNA and caregiver to many residents and people. COVID impacted everyone around the world, no matter who you are. I believe residents in nursing homes felt especially impacted, their whole life was flipped upside down. Residents were once used to moving around and about their facility, eating and communing with other residents, seeing family almost everyday, and socializing in and outside of the facility. In an instance all of this was taken from them, they began to be confined to their rooms, no more visitors, no longer leaving the facility, and no more socializing with others. Staff of each facility was all that a resident saw day and night. We became their “family” and their only outlet of socializing. When the lives of these residents were turned upside down, like the rest of the world, depression, loneliness, sadness, and anxiety set in deep. We as staff were all they had.

Being a CNA, you have to love people and what you do, otherwise you will make everyone around you miserable including yourself. I love my job as a CNA, I love caring for residents, I love making them laugh, I love getting to be the one they talk to, and I just genuinely love spending time with them. You get an inner sense of joy from caring for them. With COVID, the love I had for these residents was amplified. I saw their sadness, their loneliness, and their hurt. This changed me as a person and caregiver to go above and beyond to make up for all that was missing in their life. I got to know some of my residents more deeply and came to know their stories on a personal level. I got to share some of the funny and silly moments with them, and also some moments where all they needed was a shoulder to cry on. I felt their hurt, I felt their loneliness, and it caused me to want to do more for them. It fueled my caregiving fire even more, that they deserve better than all the hurt and loneliness. I like to think of myself as a person who can be defined as “extra”. I use that everyday with them, be extra caring, do a little extra for them, be extra thoughtful of something that might change their day.

As I continue to look back on the damaging effects of COVID in nursing homes, I realize how this is just motivation for all caregivers including myself to be better and do better for our residents. I am here to be a light in this world and especially to the residents I am around everyday. It is a blessing to be a part of all residents’ lives, and I believe I was placed there for a reason. That reason is to fill residents with love, dignity, and to help them to understand they are cared about. I just continue to say and to remind myself and others, be a light and be the reason someone smiles today.