National Nursing Assistants Week that runs through June 23rd gives us the opportunity to celebrate our caregiving staff, many of whom are CNAs. At Amada Senior Care, we deeply appreciate the commitment, compassion and courage of senior caregivers, CNAs, nurses, and other health workers working at the forefront of COVID-19 recovery. This celebration week also offers the chance to inspire by sharing the story of our chief executive officer, Tafa Jefferson.
The CNA who became a CEO in the senior care field
Tafa has a deep personal connection with the senior care profession. His mother spent her life caring for seniors, and in 1997, Tafa became a Certified Nursing Aide, caring for patients with varying stages of Dementia, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. He soon realized that this profession allowed him to make a meaningful difference in people’s lives, and in 1998, Tafa co-founded Amada Senior Care to provide non-medical, in-home care to seniors and others. He was employing more than 200 caregivers within just a few years.
Now Tafa heads the Amada Senior Care franchise system, which has more than 145 home-care offices in 40 states around the country. He understands, firsthand, how a life of caring and service to others can allow a person to achieve their own career goals and dreams.
“For many years my mom was a caregiver and as a young boy I was privileged with watching her enjoy her work,” Tafa said.
Members of the Amada Senior Care family answering the call to serve
Aspiration and inspiration are common threads woven through the community of Amada franchise owners. Many walk in the footsteps of their staff as trained caregivers and CNAs. Among those galvanized to pursue and graduate from a CNA program are Neeta Nicholson, CEO of Amada Jacksonville in Florida.
“I felt that it was important to understand what real care is about so that we can think of all avenues for providing exceptional service,” said Neeta of her certification.
Many caregivers to elderly seniors talk about “hearing the call” to serve. At Amada, we feel deep gratitude when we hear about caregivers on our team who follow the call and then take the further step to earning their CNA diploma or another degree in healthcare. Such is the case with Nicole Boodhansingh, who cares for clients at Amada Mesa in Arizona and was recognized as a National Amada Caregiver Superhero this May for her swift action to assist a choking client.
“Nothing is more exciting than watching a caregiver grow in confidence and skill. It is magic!” said Tanja Tryon, caregiver support specialist at Amada Mesa. “I felt so inspired after discussing with Nicole her journey as a caregiver.”
Nicole’s journey includes being in the right place at the right time and with the right training to perform the Heimlich maneuver on a client who began choking after trying to swallow prescribed pill medication. Nicole quickly identified that the client wasn’t just coughing but choking and her swift assistance relieved the symptoms.
Nicole said she was drawn to caregiving through the influence of her parents, Melissa and John Boodhansingh, franchise owners of Amada San Diego Central in Southern California. “Being able to see how much I’m able to help clients even with the smallest things is very rewarding,” Nicole explained. “At first, you don’t realize necessarily how much it benefits or makes the client feel happy.”
“Being able to connect with them and having them confide in me – you know, a lot of them don’t want to burden their own family members with their problems – it all has a great positive impact on them,” she added.
Nicole, who graduated in May with a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology, said she plans to continue her journey in the health care field by studying to become an emergency physician. Now that she has some experience as an in-home caregiver, Nicole is able to offer encouragement to others answering the call to serve and help Amada enrich the lives of seniors and their families. According to Tanya, the advice Nicole offers to new caregivers are:
- Ask questions! Seniors want to teach and to help.
- Make conversation. Treat them like they are still in control and give them choices.
- Don’t treat them like they are disabled and don’t ignore them.
- Always treat seniors with respect and dignity.
“We admire Nicole’s passion and value and appreciate the support she gives to her clients and the Amada staff,” Tanya said.
“Celebrating Caregivers and CNAs in Senior Care” written by Michelle Flores, Amada blog contributor.