A desire to help the elderly is what motivates Rachel Elledge in her job as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) at Barton Stone Nursing Home in Jacksonville. She takes care of the residents and helps their families.
"I like being a part of helping people to live longer," Rachel says.
Several years ago, Rachel had some mobility problems due to bad knees and ankles. Her mother recommended that she apply for Vocational Rehabilitation services from the DHS Division of Rehabilitation Services. She has received vocational counseling and guidance, information and referral services, and job placement which led to her employment at the Barton Stone Nursing Home.
In addition to helping elderly people, she said earning a paycheck and making new friends is what she enjoys most about going to work each day.
Having a meaningful job has changed Rachel's life for the better. "I'm not as afraid of people as before. With my earnings from this job, I was able to buy a laptop computer. I'm saving now to buy a car in the Spring," she says.
Rachel attributes her current success to being a valued employee who shows up every scheduled work day, does what she is told and tries to work hard. Her supervisor, Vickie Werries, Assistant Director of Nursing, at Barton Stone Nursing Home appreciates her love for the people and her desire to help the elderly.
The biggest challenge for CNAs is that the job is very physical in nature. Their understanding of each other's needs is what makes their relationship a real partnership that works.
"Rachel is very thorough and she understands what is needed to help residents to be functional. Her assignment on the Alzheimer's floor requires additional training and she is always conscientious, making sure that she is up to date on her classes," Werries says.
Rachel says she appreciates her employers' commitment to her. "My employer is always there for me and is supportive of me. I love working on the Alzheimer's floor. Working on one floor helps me to know what to expect and to alleviate frustration," she says.
Rachel started working before she had the badly needed surgeries on her ankles and knee and Werries admired her willingness to work through pain.
Werries says she was happy to make some accommodations to help Rachel on the job.
She wanted to see that Rachel stayed on and assisted her with using FMLA during her surgeries and recovery.
"As problems arose, Rachel was always good to come in and talk," Werries says. "She tries to make the best of every situation. Due to Rachel's need for surgery, I saw that she was having some difficulty with the physical nature of the job where she was working. That's why I suggested that she work on the Alzheimer's floor which is less physically demanding and where Rachel could put her strengths in caring and compassion to use. I have seen major improvements in her work."
And Rachel wants to share her success with others. She has volunteered to speak with other job seekers and organizations. As for the future, Rachel says she would love to go back to school to study Psychology.
To find out more about on the job accommodations and ways to assist your employee at work please go to the Job Accommodation Network.
To learn more, call 1-877-761-9780 Voice, 1-866-264-2149 TTY, (312) 957-4881 VP, or read about DRS's Services. Refer yourself or someone else for services using the online Rehabilitation Services Web Referral.