CAREERS IN NURSING:
OVER AND ABOVE – NURSING STAFF TRANSCENDS ORDINARY WORK
by James Coburn – Writer/Photographer
Being able to help the residents or staff at The Fountains at Canterbury makes every day special for Linda Hakala, RN, she said of the Oklahoma City center.
“It’s being able to see the results of what is being done with memory care and being able to be part of that as well as the nursing staff,” Hakala said.
Hakala became a registered nurse in 1987 when she earned her degree at Cloud County Community College in Kansas. She worked a little bit in a hospital but has since worked exclusively in the realm of geriatric care. She has worked in home health, assisted living, long-term care and skilled nursing. She has also worked with residents living with memory care issues.
She recognized at age 17 by examining her career choices that a nursing career would be her niche.
“I have always been the one to help people,” Hakala said. “And then my mother was in the hospital and actually passed away there. Then at the age I was and being a senior in school trying to graduate didn’t let me be with my mother as much as I would like to have been.”
“So I think that played a big part in wanting to become a nurse,” she said.
She said the main part of her drive is helping the residents at The Fountains at Canterbury succeed. A lot of her accomplishments occur due to working with a professional staff who are geared toward the residents’ needs, she said.
“We do resident centered care,” Hakala said. “I’m very strong in wanting the residents to have what they want and not just necessarily what they need. But what do they want and how can we accomplish that?”
She said that Mary Shrum, program director for assisted living and memory care, has an important role in the daily lives of the residents. It is one that she admires, Hakala said.
The Fountains at Canterbury is a continuing care community. This means there is a continuum of levels from independent living to assisted living, long-term care and memory care.
“We cover every area,” Shrum said. “As far as activities, they are as varied as our residents. We do a lot of outings but it’s geared specifically for the areas they live in.”
Independent living residents might take a trip to Fort Worth. Memory care outings have included excursions to the Wichita Mountains near Lawton for an entire day. They went to see the Holy City and had lunch.
“We do the same things, just geared differently for what they can do,” Shrum said.
The assisted living residents recently enjoyed going to the Bayou Grill for dinner to celebrate Mardi Gras. And members of long-term care recently returned from an outing at the Affair of the Heart.
Either nurses or care staff always join the residents on their outings, Shrum said.
“The fact that the nursing staff connects on a personal level is what I admire about them,” Shrum said. “I’m not a nurse, but we all get to know them at such a level that we know pretty much what they’re going to need before they need it. And we try to anticipate that need.”
Glenn down the hall likes Dr. Pepper.
“It’s things like that. We do random acts that make the day better. Our mission statement is we are committed to creating extraordinary communities where people thrive,” Shrum said. “That’s the way we do it. We will do something off-the-wall and it will make their whole day.”
Shrum said it is the hugs she gets everyday that enriches her life at The Fountains at Canterbury. She can walk through the dining room and get 12 hugs in a heartbeat.
The residents know when she is having a hard day just as she knows when they are facing challenges.
“It’s a constant support system. They support me and I support them,” Shrum said.
Whether its memory care or assisted living, the residents reach out to encourage and support Shrum, she continued.
One of the residents at The Fountains at Canterbury began her career working at the state Capitol. She painted the portrait of Gov. Edmondson in 1963 and continued with her painting after her retirement.
“She paints daily. She loves it. We took her back to the Capitol and she just brightens your day,” Shrum said.
Another woman in memory care was an Air Force pilot during World War II, Shrum said. Her husband was a pastor and she still talks about her life in the Air Force.
The nursing staff goes above and beyond their duties to meet the needs of the residents, Shrum said.
“I have a nurse that will come in on his days off and sit and do puzzles with the residents,” she said of Darrell Teague.
He does this for a resident who barely comes out of her room. He wants her to have interaction with others, Shrum said. He has also gone on multiple outings with Shrum.
“He will come up and make bread pudding for the residents,” she said. “This is over and above and he’s not on the clock when he does it.”