When you hear the term “guiding light,” you might first think about the long-running soap opera. But, literally the term refers to “A person who has a profound influence on others and is a source of inspiration and admiration.” Casonya Bookhardt, the social services manager at Cardinal Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center in Lincolnton, North Carolina is a perfect example of a guiding light in action.

Casonya has been working at Cardinal since the beginning of October 2019, and has demonstrated Consulate’s core values of compassion and respect since day one. According to Dallas Welch, in the human resources department, “Casonya always puts her best foot forward and always makes sure that others get recognized for their hard work and efforts.”

Having been raised by her grandparents, Casonya has carried a passion for the elderly since she was a young girl. She remembers helping her grandma administer insulin and medicine. “I have always loved being with the elderly. My grandma taught me to always have respect for my elders.” Casonya worked for the Department of Social Services after earning her college degree in social services. She also worked in case management for a drug company. When Casonya realized she could serve seniors directly in a care center, she knew that she had found the perfect setting for her passion and skill set.

Getting to know the residents is one of Casonya’s favorite aspects of the job. “Some residents don’t have people (family and friends). If you can get one person to smile a day, you’ve accomplished something.” She told us about one resident who used to speak a little English, but has primarily reverted back to her native language, Spanish. Casonya will take time out of her day to sit with this patient in the courtyard, while eating icecream and sharing pleasant conversation in Spanish. “I wanted her to be comfortable,” she said.

When we asked Casonya about the more challenging parts of her job, she told us about the importance of finding the right placement for patients being discharged from Cardinal. The placement decisions often need to be made on a tight timeline. To make the best placement, she has to do research to find the right level of care and also ensure availability. Although it can be stressful, Casonya has done an amazing job finding the right fit after discharge.

In difficult times, Casonya relies on her compassion to be her guiding principle, and she encourages other caregivers to do the same. She explains, “Remember why you are doing your job. We do what’s in our heart (what we love to do), and we will make it. There will always be frustrating days, but we can do it.” Casonya, we appreciate you sharing your guiding light with everyone who is fortunate enough to cross your path.

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