Karen Hoard, director of nursing at Grace Living Center Wilshire says as long as the nursing staff has the philosophy of doing what’s right for the elders — why would they go anywhere else?

DON dedicates herself to residents

by James Coburn
Staff Writer

When Karen Hoard was in nursing school she wanted to work in pediatrics, but the first job she had was with Grace Living Center.
Hoard, RN, DON, Grace Living Center Wilshire. “The elders are all my grandma and grandpa. Some of them are younger than me. We’re all brothers and sisters but most of them call me mom.”
She has worked for 14 years. She also worked at the Grace Living Center Brookwood in Bethany for a short time. Hoard earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree at the University of Central Oklahoma and has been a nurse for 23 years. She earned her LPN while she was in school and has served in nursing homes for most of her career.
Grace Wilshire employs a lot of long-term staff who have worked there almost as long as Hoard. Working with the same people day in and day out brings the staff together like family, Hoard said.
“You get to know them better than you do somewhere where there’s a lot of turnover,” she continued. “If you come in and stay for 90 days you usually stay unless there’s an outside issue.”
Grace adheres to an excellent philosophy of placing the needs of elders first. The staff is there to make the residents happy and to keep them safe, Hoard explained.
“We care for them with a passion. That’s what we do,” she said.
All of the residents are their own person and each has a special spot. The nursing staff adapts to the elders by figuring out their quirks, she said, in order to take care of them. They learn to love each individual resident in the manner they need to be loved.
One of the gentlemen is a greeter at the front door. Hoard said he comes into her office nearby 20-40 times a day.
“He does the same thing every time. I answer the same thing every time,” she said. “But to him that’s important. So my door is open and he comes in and asks me if daddy’s coming. Daddy is dead and he knows that, but he always asks it. And he always asks if the boys and girls are coming.”
“That’s his thing, but he’s the greeter. He does a very good job of it. His sister is here.”
The Grace staff has family at the Wilshire home, including the administrator’s brother and a CMA’s mother. Hoard said they have had residents that the staff has worked miracles. One gentleman came to Grace with the prognosis of living three days. Three years later, he was still living at Grace.
“And he was happy,” she said. “And it’s my goal to make them happy as long as I can.”
When Hoard was a nursing school student, they always had a meeting at the end of the day. She recalls a bad day when she worked in pediatrics with sad cases. So she would look at her teacher and say, “How do you do it? How do you go home at the end of the day and let them stay there?” Her teacher told her, “God put you in this place to take care of them the best that you can.”
That is what Hoard does. She cares for the elders the best that she can while they are at Grace. And so does her staff, she says. They go above and beyond their line of duty when there is a need.
“Fixing their hair; making sure they have their lipstick on,” Hoard said. “(The elders) want to have their lipstick and their jewels. And we make sure that’s done.”
“They adopt them as their own. The elders belong to them as part of their family.”
Each nursing staff member will find someone who is their special person. The give of their heart and their time to all of them. Employees coming to work merely for a paycheck never last. The other workers make sure of that.
“They test you when you come in — the staff does. They make sure you’re here for the right reasons.
Nursing staff must be able to work hard and perform their jobs, anything that’s needed to take care of the elders. Sometimes that’s hard, Hoard said, especially for the CNAs.
“They have the hardest job. They are the roots of the tree,” Hoard added. “And without the roots you can’t get anything. You can’t grow. They provide a lot of love and compassion and time to care for the residents.”

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