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Education assistance helps launch career

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Kaye Keith, director of assisted living.[/caption]

When Kaye Keith was a CNA at another senior care community, a resident fell on the way back from the bathroom. He was having a heart attack. The only other staff member around was a medication tech. Neither she nor Kaye knew CPR.

It was a helpless feeling, and Kaye never wanted to feel that way again. “I thought, I want to be able to do more.” So when Kaye came to work at Farmington Presbyterian Manor in 1989, she soon took advantage of the employee education assistance benefit. Kaye received financial assistance that helped her obtain LPN certification.

“I would have been able to do it all on my own, but it might have taken me longer,” she said. “It would have been harder for me to do it by getting (other) grants, and I was able to work a little bit versus working full time. It let me focus on my studies.”

The education assistance program provides scholarships to employees for accredited educational programs leading to a certification, license or degree. Applications are accepted and reviewed every spring. To be eligible, employees must have been employed at Presbyterian Manors of Mid-America for at least one year at the time the award is made (usually mid-summer). Funds are paid after the successful completion (a “C” grade or higher) of the approved course and can be used to cover tuition, fees and books.

Today, Kaye is director of assisted living at Farmington Presbyterian Manor. She left in 1998 to work in hospice care and rejoined our staff in 2014. It was like coming home, Kaye said. And a lot had changed – for the better, for residents. They have more explicit rights and freedoms than they did 20 years ago, Kaye said, and as a strong resident advocate she’s happy to see that.

Kaye recalled a resident from her days as an LPN who was on a restricted diet due to diabetes and cancer. She wasn’t eating, and Kaye was trying to find something that appealed to her. One day at mealtime, the staff served dessert. “She got fruit, and everyone else got something chocolate. I asked her, ‘Is there anything you would eat?’ She looked at the chocolate and said, ‘I’d like to have that.’” Kaye went to the dining staff and fought for her resident to have the dessert. They resisted but she eventually prevailed. The woman took two small bites and was completely satisfied. Today, Kaye said, she probably wouldn’t have to fight that battle because of the emphasis on person-centered care.

Now, in a position of leadership, she also appreciates the opportunity she has to encourage her staff to advance their own education. Three members of the assisted living staff are now enrolled in studies, and as a team they work together to cover shifts when people have class.Kaye believes anyone who wants to learn new skills or advance their education should try, no matter where they are in life or in their career. She went back to school 10 years after she earned her certification to get her bachelor of science in nursing, or BSN. “Even if you’re older, I don’t think that should hold you back.

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