As I write this, I can see the snow pouring from the sky just outside my cozy living room window. Here in Kansas City, we are under a blizzard warning, and the vast majority of schools, churches, and government offices are closed for the day. I made the decision to stay home, on the advice of the Missouri and Kansas Departments of Transportation and with encouragement from staff members at the nursing homes I was to serve today.
I am grateful that I don’t have to be on the roads today, but I am mindful of the people who do, including emergency workers, road crews, those with medical emergencies, and people who don’t have a home to go to. On the occasion of the most recent Midwestern Snowmaggedon, though, I want to say an especially heartfelt “thank you” to the people who are staffing long-term care facilities today.
The aides, nurses, and dietary staff who are working at long-term care facilities throughout the Kansas City area today didn’t really have a choice to stay home. Many of them probably had to figure out last-minute child-care arrangements, dig out their cars, and allow twice as much time as usual to get to work. Their jobs might be more difficult than usual today if scheduled deliveries can’t be made or if other workers don’t show up or if the power goes out. An aide at one of my facilities told me that she brought an extra change of clothes because there’s a good chance that they’ll be snowed in. (This small facility is in a residential neighborhood that is not at the top of the list for plowing.) She anticipates working overtime until another aide can walk to work tomorrow.
These folks have to figure out how to get to work because the residents at these facilities still need people to care for them – to prepare their food, clean their home, administer their medication, and help them through all their other activities of daily living. These are low-profile jobs that don’t pay nearly as much as they should, and they are not easy or glamorous. Still, they are important.
So, today, my heart is full of gratitude for these unsung heroes, the long-term care workers who are braving this awful weather to care for the residents who need them so much.