by James Coburn – Writer/Photographer
The smiles on the residents’ faces as they walk down the hall of the Lakes Care Center keeps John Cupp in the field of nursing, he said.
Cupp was hired by the Lakes Care Center in December, he brought years of experience to the arena of long-term care and skilled nursing.
Today he serves as the staffing coordinator for the Lakes Care Center in Oklahoma City. He has been a licensed practical nurse for almost 20 years and graduated from the bygone DeMarge College in Oklahoma City, he said.
He learned about the opportunity of working at the Lakes Care Center from his sister, Karen Shelton, who works in the human resources department.
“Oh, I love working with the elderly,” Cupp said. “It’s a passion. You’ve got to have the right mentality to work with people living with dementia as well. It takes a special person.”
Cupp is in charge of hiring new employees and staffing at the Lakes Care Center. He must ensure there are enough nurses and other staff members for the three shifts of work at the Lakes Care Center.
“I try to keep everybody happy as far as the residents and staff,” he said. “The residents get to know the staff as well. If something is wrong, they’ll let the staff know about it.”
At places where there is continuing new staff coming in, it takes a while for the residents of those places to warm up and get used to them, he said.
There are neighborhood councils. And when a staff member goes in to a room to perform routine checks, residents always have opportunities to express themselves, he said.
“The CNAs know if their head hurts or they’re not feeling good,” Cupp said. “Then they’ll go and let the nurse know and the nurse will go in and check them out and figure out what’s going on.”
Whenever there is a nurse who is sick, he will work on the floor quite a bit.
“That’s the only way you are going to know the residents,” he said. Many of them tell them about what has been important in their lives through their many years.
“Some of them are very special and unique on how they grew up,” he said. “They didn’t have anything but what they had on their back as they worked in the fields to get their food.”
Cupp said he is gratified to see the nursing staff working well together as a team for the common goal of optimal patient care.
“They are dedicated,” he said. “As for nurse-wise, I don’t have any complaints as far as not happy. You’ve got to love the elderly and you’ve got to be dedicated to want to care for them.”
Nursing is not a field to enter with the expectations of becoming rich, he said.
“You come in to help people,” he said.
Twenty years ago, Cupp embarked on a nursing career with the inspiration of his mother, who was also a nurse. She worked as an LPN at South Community Hospital. She provided many opportunities for Cupp to learn about being a nurse during his formative years.
“So I decided to follow in her footsteps and become a nurse,” he said.
He has always served in nursing homes. When he first graduated from school, Cupp worked in Wyoming for almost five years as a nurse on an Indian reservation before moving to Oklahoma.
“You are always going to need nursing. It’s part of life,” he said of why it’s a good time for people to consider a nursing career.
“Baby boomers are getting older,” he said. “There is much demand for nursing right now.”
A good attitude is an essential quality for a nursing career, he said.
“If you have a good attitude, and the residents see that, then they’ll have a good attitude and will be more willing to get up and get out, participate in therapy and get stronger,” Cupp said.
He likes spending his time off from work with this wife and children, he said.
“We goof off, play around the house. It’s family time,” he said. “On Sundays I love my Nascar. And then in April I plan on going to the Texas Motor Speedway.”
There’s a difference between going to the races and watching it on television,” said Cupp, who has been a Nascar fan for 15 years.
“You get a totally different aspect of how much power those cars have, when you’re in the stands, than from the television,” he said.
At the Lakes Care Center, Cupp is still trying to see who are the football fans, Nascar fans and which residents prefer something else other than sports.