Senior Hospice Aide Monika “Toni” Roman
Everyone likes to have a sense of purpose. For me, there’s no greater feeling than knowing I’ve made a difference in someone’s life.
I get to enjoy that feeling every workday as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) at Care Dimensions’ Kaplan Family Hospice House.
My work, my passion
I like taking care of people, and CNA work has been my passion since I first became certified in 1993. For many years, I cared for residents of various nursing homes north of Boston. In 2008, while working for a different hospice, a negative experience led to the most positive change in my career.
My employer cut my hours. I had been giving personal care to a particular patient five days a week and had a great relationship with her and her family. The cutback meant I could see this patient only three days a week. Her daughter called Hospice of the North Shore (now Care Dimensions) and recommended me. A short time later I was hired, and I’ve been with this company ever since then.
I started by seeing patients in their homes. I remember being assigned a new patient, a gentleman named Tony, who was known to be gruff at times. He didn’t want anyone coming into his house. When I introduced myself, I told him, “I understand this is your home, and I am not going to boss you around. I just want to make sure you’re safe.” We were going to do things on his terms. I was there to see if he needed anything, not tell him what to do.
At the end of that visit, Tony called the office and said he wanted five hospice aide visits each week! I would fix him his lunch. I remember he loved scrambled eggs with a lot of butter. I took care of him for a year and we became friends. He told me he wanted to go to the Kaplan Family Hospice House for a respite visit. Fortunately, a bed was available. I had covered some weekend shifts there, so I was familiar with hospice house operations when I went to visit him. When I got to his room, he announced, “That’s my girl!” I was able to shave him, give him a bath, and make him comfortable. He died about a day later, but I was happy that I was able to see him before he passed and know that he was at peace.
When I meet a patient, I try to look at who they were before they got sick. I want to give them dignity by making sure they are clean and looking proper. I’ll bring them a mirror so they can see themselves. It warms my heart – I can’t cure them, but I can do something to make them feel better.
Helping patients, families at the Kaplan House
In 2013, I was selected for a hospice aide position that had opened at the Kaplan House. I was drawn to it and felt like I was needed to be there for patients and families in those last days. I could make the transition a bit easier for them by developing a one-to-one connection.
At the Kaplan House, I have time to get to know my patients and their family members, even though many of them are there for a short time.
Sometimes families I meet at the Kaplan House are unsure if they’re doing the right thing for their loved ones. I tell them, “This is a time for you to be a family member and give them love instead of carrying the burden of being a caregiver.” I suggest ways to take care of themselves so they can be there for their loved ones.
It’s just one of the many things I’ve learned from working with talented and caring staff at Care Dimensions. I meet people at the most vulnerable time of their lives and am thankful for the opportunity to help them through it.
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About the author
Monika “Toni” Roman, CNA, CHPNA, is a senior hospice aide with Care Dimensions. She is a recipient of Care Dimensions’ Lane-Butler Gift of Compassion award that honors outstanding hospice aides.