‘My heart is big’: Employee spotlight on continuing care assistant Elaine Earle
When Nova Scotians need health care at home, licensed practical nurse Elaine Earle is the first to respond to their call for help.
Seven days a week, the Yarmouth continuing care office receives calls from people asking for information and referrals for programs and services. Whether clients need help with dressing changes, essential housekeeping or getting equipment loans, Earle knows the difference that support can make in someone’s life.
“There are a lot of elderly people in their homes who need a little bit of help,” Earle said. “Recently, I find there are couples where one partner has Alzheimer’s and the other, who is their caregiver, ends up having a having a health crisis. It really leaves them in a bind.
“It means the world to connect with someone who makes you feel comfortable and valued and listens carefully to what you need.”
Earle’s colleagues speak highly of the caring, compassionate and understanding way she responds to people’s concerns. She credits her ability to relate with callers to her late father’s need for support in the home and her experiences hearing from many people in similar situations.
“It meant a lot to my parents to be able to stay together in their home. They didn’t have to be separated by one going in hospital and the other having to stay at home,” Earle reflected. “That has been a big factor in the compassion I have for other people.”
Her recognition that each and every caller could be going through the most vulnerable and daunting time of their life can sometimes leave Earle feeling emotionally drained.
“I do care, and that’s why I feel sad sometimes, because my heart is big and I really pay attention to what people say and respond in a human way, not just on paper,” Earle said. “I know it shouldn’t affect me but I find it hard some days.”
To break away from the demands of the job, Earle often visits one of the many beaches along the Yarmouth and Acadian shores at lunchtime. Watching the unhurried rhythm of waves, listening to the soothing ocean sounds, and drawing in the salty smell of wind all help Earle return to a serene state of mind.
For Earle, being in a position to provide guidance and reassurance to Nova Scotians ultimately makes her job feel meaningful and worthwhile. The sighs of relief and heartfelt comments of appreciation from callers reassure Earle that her caring attitude is making a difference.
“I love doing the calls,” Earle remarked.
If you are a licensed practical nurse and care about helping people stay in their homes for as long as possible, please consider becoming a continuing care referral assistant. For more information on continuing care, please visit www.nshealth.ca/continuing-care.