Cheryl Crawley was not an only child, but it felt that way. As the youngest of four, her nearest sibling was ten years older, so memories of her sister and two brothers together in the same place are precious but few.
Maybe that’s why as a certified nurse assistant at the Visiting Nurse Association of Greater St. Louis, Cheryl always makes sure to ask her patients about their past and favorite memories. That’s probably why she works hard to create new, happy memories as well.
‘’I bring them little things. Maybe potato chips and a soda. Anything to make them smile.’’
A smile, yes, but sometimes a lot more than that.
Cheryl once worked with a man whose towels seemed to be too rough. She wanted to help by washing them, but he didn’t have access to a reliable washing machine. So, she took the towels and his other laundry home to wash with fabric softener. From her action, the man was more comfortable, and everything he used made his skin smell good and feel soft.
For Cheryl, there are never insignificant moments in caregiving.
‘’I’ve seen a lot of situations that are very hard. Sometimes it just takes a little kindness or a small word.’’
She also likes being part of a team to provide effective care.
‘’I like working with nurses; getting a plan together and passing that on. Sometimes you have to educate; sometimes you have to advocate.’’
When Cheryl witnesses a patient’s comfort increase because she helped make a hard moment easier – that makes all the difference.
Pleasant memories during end-of-life are a particularly valuable commodity, but Cheryl’s patients have an abundance of them because of her drive to make them smile at every interaction.
Learn more about the VNA hospice program's team approach.