June 1, 2020—
There are many heroes at Decatur House. You’ll find them throughout the house, preparing meals in the kitchen, running activities in the living room, serving residents in the dining room, lending hands in the hallways, and of course, delivering personalized care to residents wherever they are.
Though all of our employees are impressive, invaluable and warrant praise, for this spotlight, we extend a special shout-out to the youngest of our care staff—UCT students Zoe Janicki, Mikayla Murray, and Grace Larner.
Even before the pandemic, when many teenagers headed home to play video games, hang out with friends, or check in with social media after school, these three hard workers hurried off to their first “real” jobs at Decatur House. And throughout the coronavirus crisis, they’ve continued to show up, prepared to meet and master the related challenges.
Having been enrolled in the same “shop” at UCT, the seniors say they were already friends before their employment at Decatur House. But all three say their shared experience here has made them even closer. They feel fortunate to be able to see so much of their best friends—each other—during this time of social distancing.
When asked about their first day here all three admit to having been nervous but excited. Being so young they felt awkward at first. But after getting to know everyone, and learning the job, they were able to find a home within the DH family. Zoe says, it helped that “even though we were young, everyone was really accepting and didn’t judge us.”
The young team understands that being part of the DH family means understanding and helping meet its mission which, in Mikayla’s words, is: “To take care of the residents by providing quality care while promoting independence and community.” Asked if they felt a part of meeting that mission, all three responded with a resounding yes, that everyone here contributes to making DH so different and so successful.
Their days are not unlike those of their more experienced colleagues—a mix of reviewing checklists with supervisors, laundry, helping with meals and medication, sitting with residents needing extra care, visiting them in their rooms to help with daily tasks, whatever a resident needs to feel comfortable.
Zoe says, she’s noticed her own growth from a high school kid focussed on sports, to a skilled and compassionate caregiver and colleague who understands the importance of having good relationships at work. She believes DH has helped prepare her for adulthood by exposing her to, and showing her how to have close professional relationships and by treating her like an adult employee.
“Here you are free to do your job, and your job includes so many different things.” In addition to daily personal care, DH aides also help residents with things like technology, virtual visits with family, and activities.
Grace appreciates having a work experience that has allowed her to get to know the residents at a “deeper level,” saying her job at DH is helping prepare her for a nursing career by showing her the true rewards of the trade, that is, the opportunity to build satisfying relationships with both her patients and co-workers.
Mikayla is grateful to her DH mentors both supervisory and fellow ‘on the floor” colleagues who take time to help her learn and grow. And, seeing how experienced employees handle their work-life balance has given her ideas for how she might manage her own career and family time some day.
All three say they are thankful to all the staff for giving them the chance to learn from them and become part of the family! They give special thanks to Resident Care Director Rachel, Executive Director Linda, and former LPN Christine for their tutelage.
We’ve been fortunate to have had Zoe, Mikayla and Grace with us since February 2018 when our partnership with UCT Practical Nursing Program first launched. All three will graduate this month and have college plans for this fall. Grace (BSN) and Zoe (Biology/Pre-Med) are enrolled at Campbell University while Mikayla (BSN) will attend Salve Regina University.
So what will they miss most about Decatur House? “The residents,” they say —for bringing them so much joy. Well, Zoe, Mikayla and Grace, the residents, and staff at Decatur House, feel exactly the same about you.
We wish this very special UCT-DH cohort great success and hope they will come visit us often!