The patients at Lakeside Oaks Care Center in Dunedin, FL love Perry Clarke, and you can tell because they all call him by name. He appreciates hearing the stories of every individual he meets, and he has quite a story himself! Perry has been working as a CNA at Lakeside Oaks for over six years. He has been helping the elderly for the past 10 years while working in another care center prior to Lakeside Oaks.

Perry’s story is a completely unique one. He lived a modest childhood in Trinidad, where, he says, “You had to make something out of nothing.” He developed a strong work ethic from this upbringing. As a young man, Perry worked on a cruise ship and was exposed to lots of interesting destinations. He particularly liked Bermuda. After working on the ship for five years, he decided to move to the United States in 1996.

Perry is passionate about music and is talented too! He plays the guitar, drums, and keyboard. He devoted years to playing music while also running his own landscaping business, and he continues to enjoy playing music to this day.

The residents are the reason Perry loves his job at Lakeside Oaks. He said that he enjoys the closeness that develops between him and the residents. “You become their family,” he told us. He said “Everyone’s story is unique. It’s fascinating talking to the residents and hearing different stories every day.”

“You become their family”

It’s not only the residents who inspire Perry. He told us about another CNA, Gerald, who showed Perry the ropes when he arrived at Lakeside Oaks. Gerald taught Perry the importance of helping a resident get comfortable with you. In order to do this, Gerald taught Perry that you need to listen to the residents and learn about something that they like or enjoy talking about. If you can connect with the resident on a topic that is important to him or her, you can usually develop a strong, cooperative relationship.

Perry has applied this lesson successfully time after time and has found it especially helpful with patients suffering from dementia. In one case, after paying careful attention, Perry learned that he could calm his agitated patient by singing “Jingle Bells,” no matter what time of year. This was so effective, that now other staff use the technique to calm her. Another one of Perry’s residents was formerly a New York police officer. In order to get this resident to willingly cooperate, Perry will often say, “Your buddy needs backup.” This triggers the former police officer’s dutiful sense of responsibility to do the right thing. Perry sums the technique up by saying, “You need to live in the moment with them.”

Compassion is the key to all of Consulate’s Core Values according to Perry. He believes that if you have Compassion, all of the other core values will fall into place. Perry demonstrates his compassion by listening to his residents and following through on all of their requests. He said that if someone asks for a cup of water, he replies “yes.” Even if he cannot fetch the water at that moment, he remembers to return to follow through in a few minutes. In Perry’s words, “If you say you are going to do something, whether it be adjusting a pillow or getting water, just do it.”

Perry loves his job and plans to continue working at Lakeside Oaks. His impeccable attendance record is a sure sign of his unwavering commitment to his patients and the care center. We know that the patients and Perry will continue to enjoy their time “living in the moment” together.