As featured in Oklahoma’s Education Guide for Nursing 2021 edition:
by James Coburn, Staff Writer
Danelle Edgar loves seeing the smiles on the faces of the elderly while serving as a registered nurse at Perry Green Valley Nursing Home. Someone has got to make their sunset years special for them, she said.
“It’s not something I initially thought I would do. But once I got in here, you just really bond, they kind of become your family,” Edgar said at the long-term care and skilled nursing center. (story continues below)
The nursing home is not necessarily a place where the elderly spend their years being inactive. Each moment at Perry Green Valley is dedicated toward the enrichment of lives reaching their personal best.
“COVID has kind of thrown a wrench in everything, but we work around it, evolve and change. That’s kind of how nursing is anyway,” she said. “We have to do smaller group activities or even individual activities to fit in with the guidelines.”
Edgar has been a registered nurse since 2017 when she earned her degree at Oklahoma City Community College. She began her career as a licensed practical nurse at Perry Green Valley.
Edgar works with both long-term care and rehab patients. Compassion, patience, empathy, and teamwork combine to make the patient-centered home function well, she said. And there is not a high turnover rate among the nursing staff. Leadership and the staff pull together for the common.
“We’ve all been here together for a long time, and so we kind of know how each other works,” Edgar said.
Working in a nursing home is not a job for everyone, she said. It takes a special type of person.
“Especially the CNAs, They’re in there doing the hands-on work. They’re our eyes and ears. They help our nurses tremendously. We could not do our job without them. So, I really admire that they have the heart to be in this line of work and continue to do what they are doing with the long hours and stress. They are very adaptable and compassionate.”
Her life is often touched by the gains she witnesses in her patients’ lives. She recalls when one of a gentleman was first admitted to Perry Green Valley on hospice about four years ago.
“We didn’t think we had very long with him,” she said. “He has gotten better over the years. When he first came, he was bedridden, didn’t talk and was very contractured. And now he’s walking — he’s participating in activities — he’s very happy and gets along well with all the staff. We all love him. It was just really inspiring to see someone go from not being able to do anything, and now he’s doing activities. He doesn’t even use a walker. He is our miracle story.”
It’s important to understand that how a patient behaves with dementia is not the way they lived in decades past. Dementia changes them, she said.
“You just have to have a good relationship with the family, communicating with them to see how they were — what things did they like,” Edgar continued.
Research points to redirecting people with dementia when they act as if they are living in the distant past. Perhaps a loved one had died, and they don’t realize it. Nurses are trained to meet the resident where they are in life.
“If they are in 1970 at home and we’re their kid, then you go with that, because there’s more behaviors if you try to tell them ‘No, you’re wrong. You’re not there. Your mother is dead,’ or things like that. It’s traumatic for them and they’re having to relive that every five minutes, if that’s how long it takes their brain to process. You just have to be in their world. That’s what we are learning.”
Many of the nursing home residents were farmers or farming wives. Many of them know and grew up with each other in rural surroundings.
“There’s kind of that sense of friendship in here as well,” Edgar said. For more info visit: