CAREERS IN NURSING
GOOD MORNING WITH A SMILE: CNA EMBODIES VALUES
by James Coburn – Writer/Photographer
Leslie Garrett has been with Forest Glade Retirement Community in Bethany for several years working as a CNA.
“She is definitely one of the favorites of our residents and management,” said Karen Martinez, executive director. “She is one employee I wish I could clone. I would take many of her if I could find them.”
Forest Glade is an assisted living center and the certified nurse aides are the ones who spend most of the time with the residents there, Martinez said.
“So really they are the blood going through the veins of the community,” Martinez said.
Garrett is also a medication aide technician and said it is the residents that keep her enthusiastic about serving the elders at Forest Glade.
“If I notice anything new, I like to go and tell the nurses right then and there,” Garrett said. “Most of the time they already know about it, but still I want to be sure we’re all on the same page because it all falls on all of us.”
The interaction between the residents and Garrett makes her job easier, she said.
“I just love the residents. That’s what keeps me here. They enjoy me as much as I enjoy them,” she said.
Garrett became a CNA in 2006 after seeing the good care her grandmother received at a McAlester hospital, she said.
“That kind of inspired me whenever she passed,” she said.
Garrett graduated from OSU/OKC and has been a CNA ever since she earned her certificate. Garrett said she treats the elderly in the same manner that she would treat her own grandmother if she was taking care of her. She never had the chance to do that because her grandmother died before she was a CNA.
Garrett said the quality of patience is an example of how a CNA can work well with the individuals they serve. Residents also love to converse with her, she said. A CNA also needs to be reliable, Garrett said, because residents might be on a schedule.
“When you mess up on that schedule it kind of messes their day up,” she explained. “I like to listen to their stories and I love to look at their pictures from back in the day — the black and white ones are kind of cool.”
She learns about how they lived when they were younger, the careers they had for many years and the enrichment it brought to their lives.
“They actually sit down and explain it, and they just love interacting with me, and they have compassion,” Garrett continued.
She came to Forest Glade three years ago. She likes the flexibility of working there because they understand when she needs time off. Forest Glade is very family oriented, Garrett continued.
“They interact with the residents because they care about the residents,” she said.
Residents are taken to Walmart or other places of interest. They do arts and crafts which is something Garrett likes because she can join them when she has free time. She celebrates their lives and has fun while doing it.
“They cook and have little therapy dogs and that’s all me,” she said. “Every day there’s something new to do.” Garrett said she admires the residents because even when they feel at times like giving up they won’t.
“I admire their strength and being able to deal with the struggles that they do face every day,” she said. “Because it is frustrating and I just admire they can do it because I know when I get that age, I don’t know how I’m going to be. So I admire that because how some of these residents can take a hand full of pills — I admire that because I can’t do that.”
She laughed when asked about her hobbies and what she likes to do in her spare time. Garrett has three kids and plays a lot with them. They go to the park and watch movies.
“We play outside. That’s pretty much my hobbies,” she said.
When thinking of work Garrett said she likes the teamwork that she has with the LPNs and RNs. She is thankful for the friendships she has made as part of the nursing staff through the years.
“We work good with each other. We’re all kind of like family,” Garrett said. “We all just kind of fit together.”
She looks forward to the new residents who will be moving into Forest Glade in coming days.
“It’s always kind of interesting getting new ones,” she said. “I look forward to bringing in the new year with the residents we already have that didn’t think they would make it to 2017. There’s new and exciting opportunities to come.”
She always has a smile on her face that attracts a lot of conversation from the residents, she said.
Her family tells her they admire her because they could not do the work she does as a CNA. But Garrett said being a CNA is not bad at all.
“I can handle all of it. I like it,” she said. “What I do to assist is I help them to the bathroom. I help them get dressed, brush their hair and if they need help washing dishes or something little like taking showers, bathing — all of that I do.”
“We have some that don’t need nothing but a little dish washed.”