Through interviews and original photography, PHI is working with direct care workers nationwide to document their stories and share their ideas for transforming jobs in long-term care. This interview is with Venecia Bradley, a Care Partner at Villas of Killearn Lakes (The Villas) in Tallahassee, Florida. She has been a direct care worker for six years.
ON WHY SHE DECIDED TO BECOME A RESIDENTIAL CARE AIDE
“I do this work because of the love that I have for the Elders (residents of the Villas). My mom, who always taught me to respect my elders, actually got me started working in this field. She has done this work for years, and sometimes I would go with her to help out with her clients, and I just grew to love it. So I can’t stop doing it. I won’t stop doing it. I want to go further in this career because I have a lot of love for my Elders.”
ON WHAT SHE FINDS MOST CHALLENGING IN HER ROLE
“I enjoy my job, but some days the work can be very difficult. For example, bathing Elders is a challenge. Some Elders, the first thing they will do is tense up or even attack you. It can be hard, but you just have to know how to redirect them and help them understand that they are okay. You also need to be confident, because the Elders read off of you and if you’re not okay, then they’re not going to be okay either. Before I felt comfortable giving a bath or shower by myself, I would ask someone to assist me because the most important thing is to make sure there are no falls and that everyone stays safe.”
“Caregiving in general is a lovely thing. Caring for somebody feels amazing, and helping people really is the best way of giving back.
ON WHAT SHE ENJOYS MOST ABOUT HER JOB
“Caregiving in general is a lovely thing. Caring for somebody feels amazing, and helping people really is the best way of giving back. I actually love showing up to work just to interact with my Elders and talk about the simple things: hearing about their lives, their likes and dislikes, and what their favorite colors are. We have freedom to engage with them, and every day is something new here. At the Villas, we don‘t have supervisors; we have coaches. Coaches are there for us if we need any assistance or help with certain Elders. They listen and encourage us and give support. Even our head boss, he shows a lot of respect for us. Our opinions matter. I had literally never worked at a job before where our bosses are so understanding or take how we feel into consideration. Some days we might have mishaps, but overall everyone gets along. We are a family at the Villas.”
Photography: Kristen Blush
The Direct Care Worker Story Project aims to enhance the visibility of this workforce, amplify its voices, and draw on workers’ unique wisdom to inform policy and practice. The Project seeks to address the lack of representation of direct care workers in public narratives and ensure images used to depict long-term care work are grounded in workers’ and clients’ real experiences. If you’re interested in sharing your story as a direct care worker, please email us at info@PHInational.org.