Meet Debra, a Personal Care Attendant who has been providing care to people for 13 years! Debra was kind enough to do an interview with CRI Beaver Falls staff and talk about her passion for caring! We hope you enjoy the interview!
Q: Are you a DCW or PCA?
Q: Why did you become a direct care worker, which in your case, a PCA?
“Well, a friend of mine worked here years ago and the job that I had been working (at) ended and I was looking for something and she thought I'd be a good fit. I've never done personal care work before really. I've worked in childcare and lots of other things, so it was new.
Q: And what's the best thing about your job?
“The best thing about my job is knowing that I'm helping people. I'm meeting interesting people with amazing life stories and there's a need and I can meet it and I can do that for somebody.”
Q: Can you remember a time or a place that made you want to become a PCA? Or somebody in your life that made you, pushed you into the right direction of that? Or, somebody you helped out when you were younger? It could have been like your parents, your grandparents, or even a friend, Or, do you just like helping people?
“I do. I really like it. I like people, I like being able to be helpful doing something that makes a difference for somebody else. Like I said, it wasn't something that I looked into going into or wanted to do something. It was kind of just like, "Hey, this is something you might want to try." And I've been here (for) 13 years.
Q: So it came to you?
“Yeah. And it honestly just seems like a perfect fit. It seems, like, I remember thinking when I first started, "Wow, this is something that everything else in my life has prepared me to do.” Every other job I had, other life experiences have prepared me to do this job and I love it.”
Q: What kind of other jobs before did you have that helped you prepare to be a PCA?
“Well, something as simple as I worked cleaning houses. So I know how to clean a lot of places. You clean for people during this. I worked in childcare, so I've done a lot of personal care for children and things like that. And that's helped me. Just being around older people or sometimes people with disabilities has helped me to just see people as people. Something like this is not as much a job as it is a calling. Sounds kind of corny, but really.”
Q: No, that's good. So do you ever have bad days with consumers and what do you do to try to de-stress the situation?
“In 13 years I haven't had a lot of bad days. I've had some consumers who have had... Maybe just said some mean things or, or things like that. And you have to just realize that you have no idea what their day is like, what their life's like. You have no idea how you would react if you were going through what they were going through. So just being kind, just asking what can I do to help. Being respectful? And it usually always diffuses the situation.
And do you like try to see what kind of situation they're in that day? Do you talk to them about it? Do you try to figure out, "Hey, what can we do to make your day a little better?” Ask, is there something that's bothering you or something that's going on? Is there something I can do to help? And if so, then do it.
Just like with anybody, somebody cuts you off in traffic. Somebody treats you rudely at the counter somewhere. You have no idea what they've been through that day or what they're dealing with. So there's no reason to ever be harsh.”
Q: What do you do to make the consumer feel included in their daily work?
“I would say asking them what they want done, how they want it done, and listening. A big part of this job is just listening. I'm not there to talk about myself. I'm there to listen to them and know what they want so that I can do it the way they want it done. Not just go in and say, "Okay, this is the way I'm doing it.
So I'd say the biggest thing would be asking them. And then if there's something... I mean, so many times people want to be involved, want to help, want to do something, want to feel like they're contributing. And we need to not always be like, "Okay, I'm going to do this for you." If someone can do something, and they want to, then it's very important to let them do what they can.
Q: Now has COVID-19 affected your job?
“In some ways, yes. In some ways, no. And no, in that I haven't lost any work. I haven't had to not be at work. We always practice universal precautions. So we're always washing hands, all PCAs. And so just wearing a mask and being extra careful, doing extra cleaning.
Q: And the company provided you with safety measures, gloves?
“Yes, they have gloves and hand sanitizers.”
Q: What are your hopes for your consumers?
“I would say I would hope that they would feel safe and comfortable having CRI come into their home to help them with their daily activities and getting ready for the day. I would hope that they would always feel that we treated them with dignity and respect. And (that) they would just be able to live their lives as independently as possible.”
Q: What's the most challenging thing about your job?
“Challenging. Yeah, there's so much that we can do and so much that we do for our consumers, but there are just some things that we can't. We can't heal things. We can't make some situations better. We can't stop the inevitable. So I would say the hardest part is that.”
Q: And how long have you been working for CRI and what do you enjoy the most about the company?
“I've been here 13 years this month. The company, the staff is wonderful. There are so many wonderful people, very helpful. They know how to do their job and do it well. I love the fact of what CRI is. Something that keeps people able to stay at their home as long as possible so that they don't have to go into a nursing home. So those are things that I love about the company and about the job.
I love the people that I've met with just incredible courage and perseverance and patience and some incredible life stories and some incredible faith. I love that. I love that. And I'm in awe of these people that I've worked for. And I'm just truly humbled by being able to be a part of their life in some way.”
Community Resources for Independence would like to thank Debra for coming up to Beaver Falls and doing this interview with us and also for her dedication, time, effort, and kindness she shows to her consumers.