After working in long-term care for many years, Gail Sheridan found herself on the receiving end as a family member this summer. Gail’s mother had a serious fall at the age of 87.
“I took care of her for a few days and realized she needed short-term care,” said Gail, the Chief Clinical Operations Officer at Tealwood Senior Living in Minneapolis, Minnesota. “Together we decided on a local facility with short term rehab and the caregivers were wonderful. My mother said over and over again that they care so much and work way too hard. She was extremely satisfied with the care and is back home doing great! I am so proud of our profession and everything we do for our seniors.”
At five years old, Gail told her mother she was going to become a nurse when she grew up. With a love of service cultivated by parents who believed in giving back, Gail grew up visiting the nursing home every Sunday.
In tenth grade, she began working at a nursing home in the dietary department and progressed to a nursing assistant. After graduating high school, Gail served in the military and worked in the hospital. She knew she wanted to go back to long-term care where her passion was and she continues to serve in the profession.
Today, Gail says the best part of her job is teaching, leading others, watching staff develop their own passions for serving and being able to affect positive changes. “I spend a lot of time helping individuals become better at what they do. I like being able to do what’s right for the residents we serve, our staff and to set policy. That is another great part of my work. I’m also blessed to be able to work on quality, regulatory, and legislative areas in Minnesota and nationally.”
At Tealwood Senior Living, Gail says they invest in their employees by providing scholarships, education benefits and opportunities for growth and advancement within their organization. “Our staff and our workforce are critical to our success. We have several individuals who have been with us for 10 years, 15 years, 30 years, one who’s been with us for 50 years. We want to do a good job of taking care of the staff. They work hard serving others and they are our future.”
Gail says the caregiving workforce has been experiencing a shortage for a couple of years. “We’re always hiring, and we work very hard on employee retention. Those who truly have a passion for long-term care stay with us even if it means having two jobs.” Gail notes that “we must do more to support those who choose this essential career, help them succeed in the work they love and motivate others to join our profession.”
“Minnesota is starting to see that we will have more seniors than we have caregivers,” says Gail. “If we don’t provide that care, who will? I am very concerned that we are doing our best to serve our residents but it will not be enough for those needing long and short term care services going forward. We need significant investment in our workforce to help stabilize it and bring new people into our profession.”
Senior care issues should matter to all Minnesotans, emphasizes Gail, because we all know somebody who has benefited from our services. “Our seniors have served us well for many years and they deserve to be cared for well.”