Unit Assistants and Unit Support Workers wear many hats within our healthcare facilities. It’s a role that seems to accumulate all the odds and ends of their units, and nothing is too big of an ask for them. If you think that sounds like a challenge, just talk to our profiled member, Angela, who handles all of this with organization and patience.
Angela has worked in a rural long term care facility for ten years, and has spent five of them as a Unit Assistant (UA). She was inspired to work in this field because she felt long term care was a place she could really make a difference. Based on the range of her position, Angela certainly does make a difference, not only to her residents, but to the coworkers within the facility as well. In a day, Angela does filing and charting, admissions and discharges, processes orders, sets up appointment and transfers, corresponds with family members, answers phones, photocopies documents, and helps coworkers with their paperwork.
Even with all of that, working with the residents in her facility is still a priority and the best part of her job. “If I can make them smile or feel loved then I have had a successful day. Also, it can be very hard on family members when they are moving their loved ones in to long term care so if I can make that transition a little bit easier on them, I feel I've done my job,” she tells us. Hearing from relatives how happy the residents are in her facility really makes Angela proud, it means that families notice the outstanding care and compassion the entire staff has for their residents.
The pandemic was a struggle in Angela’s facility. While they had Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and understood that the restrictions were necessary to keep everyone safe, the mental health of everyone in the facility was at risk. Residents were cut off from their families for periods of time and the unknown nature of the situation was scary. However, these times forged them together and the staff became family to their residents. Angela and her coworkers made it a priority to ensure each resident felt loved and not forgotten. Since things have relaxed, the air has lightened. It is a relief for staff to see residents return to happier times of seeing their family and friends again.
USWs and UAs may not be as known to you, but they put just as much of their hearts into their work as any other member of the healthcare team. If you see a UA or USW in your facility, thank them for the work they do and show them the appreciation they deserve.