“You’ll do in a pinch”…filling in as a personal care aide

By Sister Christina M. Neumann
Our Franciscan Fiat

A few nights ago, as I was washing out ted hose for one of our residents, he made some remark like “Oh, it’s you again.” I asked if I was doing alright or why he said that. He went on to tell me: “I guess you’ll do in a pinch.”

When I asked where my services were lacking, I was informed that I didn’t get all the ‘toe-jam out.’ Since that time, I’ve made a special effort to thoroughly wash out the toe section of these special doctor-ordered socks.

My official title, when I started at St. Anne’s, was ‘receptionist.’ However, I end up getting involved in many other things. Most recently, this has consisted in working as the evening personal care aide. Ironically, both of our regular evening aides are out and not available to work presently.

One neat thing about the experience is that I’ve realized that we are never too old to learn. When I started filling in last Friday, I had my handy ‘cheat-sheet,’ which spelled out all the details for the evening resident cares that the aide needed to do. I have noticed, over these days, that I am relying less and less on this paper each time.

Also, there is something kind of special about caring for the people who live here at St.Anne’s. Taking out dentures, washing ted hose, helping ladies into their pajamas, and passing out snacks to diabetics are ways in which I can serve Christ, who is present in them.

Each of them is a child of God, with great dignity. I am privileged, filling in as a care aide, to help make their life a little better and care for God’s people.

Hopefully, I can learn from my mistakes, like with the toe-jam incident, and get to be a little better as these days go on. Also, hopefully, I can be more patient, too!

What you are doing is a wonderful service to God. Asking where you need to improve shows a great deal of maturity and a caring nature.

I pray that as the days go by you will continue to improve and May God bless you abundantly for your service to his Kingdom through caring for people.


There is a story from the desert fathers. Abbot Anthony saw three monks: one praying, one doing penance, one serving the sick, and he was asked which did better? He replied that the monks simply praying and doing penance could hang themselves up by their nostrils and still not equal the service of the monk nursing the sick.

Graphic image, I know, but it gets the point across and there’s a reason we’ve been repeating these stories for 1700 years. You’re doing a great work. God himself has promised reward to those who care for their brethren in His Name.

The trouble is…people like to share with you when you’re the aide. I have a lousy cold that someone generously shared.

Don’t I know it! I was an enclosed nun for a few years and worked in nursing homes when I came out. I think I had every bug known to man in the first six months while I built up my immunity. :slight_smile:

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