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  • Handle With Care
  • Donna Tucker

My name is Donna Tucker, and I'm a state tested nursing assistant (STNA)! I have been an STNA for 33 years. I simply love it. It is so rewarding to me to know I make a difference in the lives of my patients. I go in to my job with a smile on my face, an upbeat attitude, open arms, broad shoulders, ears, and a caring heart. I set examples to all around me. I am a mentor, I am a go-to person for my director of nursing (DON). Other STNAs come to me with problems or questions or concerns and together we take care of it. I am an expert committee member for my state's aging panel. I am a committee member for Career Nursing Assistants. I work a lot with Geni Gipson, the founder of this committee. I am a published author and the mother of one daughter and two sons. I have six grandchildren. I just wouldn't like doing anything else. I love my job and family and my teacup poodle, Baby!

Let's say I have talked to friends who are not STNAs about my job. I tell them that there is always going to be someone's grandma, grandpa, sister, brother, aunt, uncle, mother, father, etc. who will one day need to be placed in a home. I tell them how good I feel when I can help them. STNAs are not going away, and the door to the home I work at will not close. In some cases it's like taking care of a child. The way you give them a bath, dress them, feed them, take care of incontinence problems. No, I agree, not everyone can do my job. I hear that from my friends a lot. So I tell them, I thank God I can do the job I have.

What I do when the resident comes to our facility, I introduce myself to them and to their family. I ask the resident, "Are you spoiled?" Sometimes they say no not at all. I tell them, "Well you are in for a treat. I love to spoil and that's one of the things we do around here." If they say yes, I tell them, "Well we have our work cut our for us, because we have to spoil you even more." I usually get lots of smiles from the family and resident. After they settle for a while, and the family is alone, I ask the [End Page 153] family questions about their loved one. I like to get a story about the resident from family so I can use it in my conversation later with the resident. I assure the family their loved one will be treated exactly the way they themselves would treat them. We are not trying to replace the family. We are filling in as family while they are away from the loved one. Then after the family is gone, I keep checking in on the resident, visit for a spell and chat. I ask them if they need anything. I just want the resident to feel safe, loved, and comfortable.

Demanding family members can mean different things. For example, if they come in to help feed their loved one—I had a family member tell me, "I want mother's food now so I can feed her." I tell the family the cart that is coming now is room trays and as soon as we deliver the room trays, because we want our residents to get hot meals, I will call the kitchen and get that tray for your mother ASAP. Some family members just want you to drop all you are doing to assist their loved one. When a family member asks for something we are pretty prompt to get up and take care of it. It assures them that we will not put off anything asked of us. Sometimes it's the family member's way to show their loved one, "Well, I'll take care of this" so their loved one knows they are loved by family. Some family members just feel bad...


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