True North Living: 19/1 Shorewood 19/1 - Page 5

Recently, I had the privilege of working with and teaching our care teams about how to embark on a courageous journey to change the world by embracing and evoking their power as educated caregivers. of caring can ‘shape us’ and help create order and stability in our own lives. The fact is – the care teams are also teaching me. I usually see people in a class-room setting, but here, I see them doing the daily tasks of washing others, holding others, feeding others, and dressing others. It is intimate work and requires patience, empathy, respect and kindness. The deep assumption about caring is that it is something anyone can do, but we do not take care of human beings the same way we take care of a house or a lawn! We must know many things. As I watched one team member tenderly helping a 90-year old man get ready for bed, I was touched by how beautifully and intentionally she engaged with him. It was clearly more than a ‘task’, it was a loving and truly beautiful act. · The sensations of the body are the pathways to intellect and emotions. Caring routines involve engagement around bodily functions (elimination, cleaning, eating, sleeping) and therefore they hold the most intimate importance. When I told her what I had observed, she started crying. She said, “I love this work and I feel I get as much back from the residents as I give to them. But I feel like my work is invisible.” She continued, “My husband does body work on cars, and you can see the work he does every day, and people appreciate it. No one has noticed my work - It is invisible. Thank you for making it visible today.” Let’s make the invisibility of care visible! The way we touch others increases or diminishes their self-worth. · In the past, caring tasks may have been viewed as custodial. In the emerging future, care is viewed as an honorable practice that requires specialized knowledge about human development. · When we see the other as competent and capable, we practice caring as a conversation — a reciprocal exchange. We find ourselves doing things “with” others instead of doing them “to” others. We engage in relationship-planning rather than care-planning. · We view care as a practice that nurtures another’s development, actualization, and self-sufficiency. This is the opposite of caring in a way that creates helplessness, frustration, dependency, or entanglement. · Caring is associated with strength and power — not passivity or weakness. The other feels his or her wholeness in our caring response. I am so grateful for every touch, every smile, every kindness that is given to one another, to our families, and to the residents. My deepest gratitude and respect for each one of you. I am honored to be on this journey with you. - - - - - I knew she was right! Caring work is powerful and magical – but for the most part, caring is invisible. Care is more than custodial – Caring is an art. Caring is a science. I believe that caring plays a much bigger role in our lives than you might think. The experience 1451 Spruce Street, Florence, OR 97439 Jean Garboden is the Director of Education and Innovation at Compass Senior Living. Jean is a Certified Eden Alternative Educator, and a passionate person-centered, elder-directed advocate. To learn more, contact her at | 5