Debra Tillman became an STNA 38 years ago, and has never looked back since she started. Upon graduating high school, Debra was told by her father that she either had to get a job, or go to college. Debra just wasn’t ready for college at that time and decided to apply at a local long-term care center that was hiring. Once she was hired, she completely fell in love with the job and has never wanted to do anything else. Debra has now been working at Kenton Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Kenton, OH for 15 years and can honestly say that she enjoys each day that she comes to work.
Debra truly found her calling the day that she started her career almost four decades ago. Debra said, “They say if you find something you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. I feel that this is what I was placed on this Earth to do. I enjoy working with the elderly.” Debra is so passionate about caring for the elderly that when she once worked for another care center that was poorly managed, she quit because she wasn’t able to help her residents and patients the way they needed. Debra has a compassion towards her residents that goes well beyond just the duties of her job.
We asked Debra what she likes most about being an STNA. She said, “Getting to know the people. I like hearing their life stories and I like what I’ve learned – they teach you a lot.” Debra also gets great joy from meeting her residents’ families and getting to know them as well. Debra finds motivation in the residents that she cares for and feels good knowing that they appreciate what she does for them every day. She said, “My residents will often tell me, “I appreciate what you do for me”, or “I missed you last night”. These words make any bad day better for Debra.
Throughout her career, Debra has had several great relationships with many residents. One resident in particular suffered from Alzheimer’s, but always managed to say the right things and maintain her sense of humor. Debra said, “Sometimes she would just have the right line and it would be so funny, she would brighten my entire night.” Debra has also been lucky enough to see true love exist at her care center. Some couples that have been together for 60 or 70 years bring tears to Debra’s eyes with the way they still dote on each other. One resident was unable to walk, but wanted to be able to kiss his wife every night. Debra would help him to her room and help him bend down so that he could kiss her goodnight. These residents have made a huge impact on Debra’s life and they have changed the way she views long-term care.
Compassion is what Debra believes to be the most important Core Value. She said, “You have to have compassion for the residents and what they are going through.” Debra will see residents in pain and think about how that could be her one day. It makes her realize how important it is to be compassionate towards the elderly. The residents have also become like family to her, so she has nothing but compassion for them when she sees them in pain or struggling. It’s one of the reasons she continues to do what she does each day.
Debra has enjoyed the last 15 years at Kenton and has no desire to leave. She has been working a specific hallway for eight years now, and those residents have become her family members. She said, “I just can’t imagine leaving my family.” Although Debra has no intention of leaving Kenton anytime soon, she does hope that one day she is remembered for being a good aide, and for her love for her residents. Debra, we thank you for taking care of our residents like they are family, and appreciate your many years of service with Consulate Health Care!