When interviewing CHIRPs nominees and writing about their stories at Consulate Health Care, the theme of “family” emerges pretty consistently. It’s clear that so many of our exceptional employees know that their roles and the compassion asked of them runs much deeper than punching in hours or cashing out a paycheck.

Maybe it shouldn’t come as a surprise that these wonderful staff members possess this attitude of compassion and familial-like care in an industry that revolves around families entrusting their precious loved ones into our care centers.

Stacey Kramer, Social Services Assistant at Consulate Health Care of Lakeland, in Lakeland, Florida, serves as a stunning example of this high caliber employee. For Kramer, excellent quality care doesn’t stop the instant she clocks out for the day. Of her residents, she says: “They are family and we treat them that way, even outside [the building].”

Britany Pennington, a unit manager at Consulate Health Care of Lakeland, was eager to sing her praises for Kramer and how her efforts that transcend the care center walls: “Stacey has demonstrated compassion through every aspect of her job…to every resident, family member, and outside rep. From the minute the patient arrives and for many days after discharge, with multiple calls to follow-up and ensure resident safety, and to reassure families that we continue to be here for any issues or concerns they may have.”

Kramer originally started as a CNA and then moved into the Social Services department last February. Pennington sums up the transition nicely: “Stacey has over-accomplished in her role as SSA, and does it with so much heart.”

Pennington informed us of a recent incident in which a resident requested to leave a day earlier than her original discharge date. Her doctor approved the change; however, Lakeland’s driver had already left for the day. So Kramer loaded all of the resident’s belongings into her own vehicle and took her home. When they reached the house, they discovered that her refrigerator had stopped working. Kramer called her husband, who brought over an extra fridge they had at home. While he installed it, Kramer took the woman grocery shopping, and Kramer and her husband loaded all the groceries into the new fridge. At this point, when the resident grew concerned about needing more help than she’d originally anticipated, Kramer called and arranged for 12-hour in-home care.

In addition to her compassionate nature, Kramer also clearly displays a spirit of generosity. When asked about the greatest challenges of the job, she says sometimes it’s the inability to help everyone as much as she wishes she could, as not all residents will accept help or all the services available to them.

“No matter what your position is, treat the residents like you would your own family—only good can come from it.”

However, overall, Kramer says that working in the Social Services department has allowed her to touch even more lives than back in her CNA days, and for that, she feels grateful.

For example, she told us a story about a homeless veteran whom staff found living in some brush near the property. She says her father served in the military, and it saddens her to see veterans wind up homeless, and that “our country can do way better for them.” Luckily, in this particular situation, Kramer made it her “mission” to assist him, and managed to help him off the streets and safe into a long-term care facility. She describes the experience as “humbling,” and one of the most impactful moments she has witnessed in her career.

According to Kramer, life at Lakeland is a gathering of “one big family” and a team effort. She considers it her “second home” and says that she “wouldn’t trade the residents, the staff, the building, for anything.”

She sums up the necessity of compassion in the senior health care industry with this advice: “No matter what your position is, treat the residents like you would your own family—only good can come from it.”

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