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Working To Make A Difference

About a year ago, my friend Liz Cotillo (‘21) had recommended me to work at a residential home called Eskaton in Gold River. She had been working there a couple months before I started. It was my first job and I was excited, but I did not know that the building would lockdown due to […]

About a year ago, my friend Liz Cotillo (‘21) had recommended me to work at a residential home called Eskaton in Gold River. She had been working there a couple months before I started. It was my first job and I was excited, but I did not know that the building would lockdown due to the Coronavirus.

At Eskaton, I work with young, open, and optimistic people. My co-workers are there for me in case I need help or have any questions. Most of the employees in the kitchen staff range from high school students to young adults. and we were able to relate to each other in some sort of way. Also, having a flexible and cooperative boss is great because she is understanding with our busy lives and has a flexible work schedule.

“This is the best and first job you can ever get because it’s not just the job,” Liz says. “You make connections with people and then realize it’s all about being genuine to the residents [rather] than focusing on money.”

A month in, I did not expect to deliver food trays to residents due to COVID-19. The pandemic forced the residents to isolate in their rooms to prevent the spread of the virus. Working in the kitchen staff, we went from serving in the dining room to delivering food trays. Eskaton isolated for almost a whole year until we got the vaccine and opened the dining room with social distancing rules.

As we delivered trays, we wanted to make sure the residents were still satisfied while making them to feel better. We would just make conversations and build a connection with them as we were one of the few people a day who come inside their room besides the nurses bringing their medications. The building was almost a ghost town as no one was able to leave their rooms and talk to other residents.

Barbara, a resident who arrived two and a half years ago, says “in the beginning of this, you did not see anybody. People hardly left their room as you had to eat inside your own room. There was no contact with the other residents or physical contact with relatives”.

Even in isolation, I feel the need to give my full effort to satisfy the residents’ needs. When I think about it, these people are stuck in their rooms all day with little activity. They have been living on repeat for the whole year, and it is sad to see them lonely and bored all day.

The employees try their best to improve their living experience and with that comes a reward. “Seeing them happy gives me some validation and it’s so rewarding when I know I made a difference in their day” Liz says.

There have been lockdowns besides the Coronavirus. A couple years ago, the flu cases started to rise ,which forced the residents to isolate in their rooms. But that is nothing compared to the length of this Coronavirus lockdown.

“We’ve had a flu problem a couple years ago and had a total shut down. I figured that this was not going to be too long but here we are one year later,” says Barbara.

Marilyn, one of the newest residents who came during summer time says “I was pretty new here in the middle of the outbreak. But I still stay in my room since I have everything I need and the food delivered”.

Some of the residents have memory problems, so sometimes they forget if they have family coming or not. My co-workers and I do our best to make them laugh or smile. With Covid, it was very difficult to keep the residents busy, and some of them continued to do the same activities everyday.

“Well I had puzzles, some television, but not too much besides the news, but I have been mainly reading” Barbara says.

“I have my cats with me so that kept me busy,” Marilyn says. “Also, television and seeing what is going on, hoping that the lockdown will rise someday”.

The whole staff wants to continue to enhance the living experience during social distancing. We slowly opened up activities with strict social distancing rules to ensure the safety of the residents as the virus cases die down and the vaccinations arrive. Some of these activities include board games, bingo, and morning exercise stretching. The residents were joyful to hear a vaccine was coming.

As of now, the dining room is open to a smaller capacity. Instead of four people to a table, it is now just one, and the servers wipe down the table and chair after each use. Even though it is open, the area is still quiet with a few people talking and music in the background. When we have time, we usually talk to the residents and ask how they are doing and initiate conversations with them, bringing up their mood.

It is important to remember everyone went through the same struggle during this pandemic. It was quite draining and in some cases depressing for people. Even though our residents were stuck in their rooms for nearly a whole year, the staff tries their best to improve the living experience, whether it is with activities or even making small conversations. To see the residents smile is a rewarding feeling ,as I know some days it is difficult for them. This was a unique experience for a first job as I made so many connections and enjoyed helping and serving the residents.

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