Straight out of high school, Sheryl Goad joined the military and served for 10 years. However, it wasn’t until she became an LPN that she truly discovered her knack for long-term care and the “joy” of assisting the elderly. Goad has been on the senior health care scene ever since, lending her skills to various roles and departments. Nowadays, she works in the MDS department at Heritage Healthcare of Tallahassee and connects with her residents through stories and spirituality.

She explained: “I do a lot of interviews working in MDS. Some make me cry. . . We pray together sometimes. They bring joy to me. The stories they tell about their families are touching… how God has helped them in their lives and gotten them through. It makes me think he’s going to be there for me, too.”

A mutual faith isn’t the only thread running through Goad’s connections with residents. She stressed the particular importance of core values integrity, honesty, and compassion, and how they all must “work hand-in-hand together.” She said, “You really have to have compassion, or you shouldn’t be here. . . I have a lot of empathy for my residents. When you show them that empathy, you have a closer relationship with them, and they know you care. You have to always have compassion and empathy, because sometimes they don’t have anyone else.”

Because of Goad’s heart for seniors and her personal interest in their lives, she infuses her daily interactions with empathy. “They’ve lived a long time, they have special stories. You never know what they did in a past life. So treat them special.”

“They’ve lived a long time, they have special stories. You never know what they did in a past life. So treat them special.”

Fortunately, at Heritage Healthcare of Tallahassee, Goad is surrounded by fellow dedicated, compassionate staff who have each others’ backs and believe in the power of teamwork and positive attitudes. “Everyone’s pleasant. Everyone’s willing to help you. It’s a joy to come here. There’s no drama,” Goad said.

Paula Davis, Social Services Assistant, described Goad as “amazing,” and praised her for consistently extending her “love and care” to staff and residents.

For individuals starting careers in the senior care health field, Goad advised: “Open your heart, open your mind, and be willing to listen. Be there for the families as well as the residents. Be supportive. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty, be willing to jump right in. Because that’s why we’re here—we’re here to take care of residents. I don’t mind doing that anytime. I try to give everybody that special attention.”

When off work, Goad enjoys spending time with her dogs, her three horses, and her four grandchildren.