A Funny Thing Happened – Insider Insights of Skilled Nursing Care
First-time author, married father of four, and retired UPS truck driver becomes a Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA). Then he begins working in a dementia care facility where he says, “I fit right in.”
How did Chuck Schoenfeld find himself working in a small northern Wisconsin health care facility?
In this humorous account Chuck shares remarkable insights of skilled nursing care as an insider.
It all began when he slipped and fell on the kitchen floor while visiting his mother. She had just washed the kitchen floor of her apartment with Crisco Oil. It was then that Chuck and his wife, Maggie, persuaded her to move in with them.
As his mother’s health declined further, they moved her into a dementia unit a block away from the Schoenfeld home.
He visited her often and also spent time with other residents. This military veteran and UPS driver was so moved by what he experienced with the residents, he changed careers at age 56 to become a CNA.
For the next six-plus years, Schoenfeld made the hard work fun. He described one day as a collage of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Mission Impossible, and Rocky. He learned to redirect Mabel when her piercing screams for the police made him hope they would arrive after she used her walker as a weapon.
Schoenfeld writes humbly, honestly, and vividly, admitting “one of the greatest obstacles [he] had to overcome [were his] own insecurities.” For one, he could never quite get through helping residents with their “personal cares,” such as toileting. However, he was called upon to do the other hard work like calming combative residents. He writes about nursing assistants who work hard and long hours, often working overtime to make ends meet. He adds that they duck, dodge, sometimes take direct hits, and still continue working–a testament to how much they care.
The residents “opened my heart and jumped in.”- Charles Schoenfeld
Some of the residents he writes about:
Little Lila in her late nineties had no visitors but was “lovingly feisty.”
Silly antics with former school teacher Frieda who knew better despite Chuck’s request for her to copy a sentence he had written, “I leave my entire estate to Chuck.”
Helping depressed Susan agree to take her pills only after he took time to gain her trust and become her friend.
He took the high road when dealing with the residents–even feeling defensive while in public, for example, when people stared while he waited with a resident to see the doctor. He notes, If you do “your best to keep people safe and offer them friendship, you’ve given them all you can, which is really all they are asking for.”
Author Charles Schoenfeld speaks of Alzheimer’s as taking away everything from residents “until there is nothing left to give.”
He adds, “My nature is to look for the light side of a worst-possible situation.”
During the author’s nearly seven years of service, you’ll read about the “Secret Club,” CNA drama, compassionate moments, and even deer hunting.
This book is a testament to the Schoenfeld’s nature and a tribute to the residents whose lives he made better with compassion and fun antics.
Inspiring reading for nursing home management and staff. A must read for families faced with moving a loved one into a nursing home.