Abigail Ashamu grew up with many family members in the health care field but didn’t want to be a nurse until she moved to the United States.
When she found out she was pregnant, Abigail visited a free clinic where she and her husband were living in Washington, D.C. “The nurses offered to bring me home after appointments many times. I was so impressed,” says Abigail, adding that they also gifted her some baby clothes. “It changed my perspective. I thought, ‘If this is how people can help, I want to be one of them too.’”
When Abigail moved to Minnesota, she first worked as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) before becoming a LPN (licensed practical nurse). She has worked at Episcopal Church Home in St. Paul for over two decades. “I love this place and that was 23 years ago. I loved the elderly people there and the staff.”
Abigail says she has many favorite parts of her job, but one of them is getting residents ready for the day. “When I go to them, I smile, I ask them some questions, and I ask them to come out to have fun with us. I like to make sure their needs are met along with giving them medication and bringing a little joy into their day.” Some residents feel depressed, but many respond to her smile, says Abigail. “It’s the little things we’re able to say, and then they’re smiling.”
Being a caregiver can be challenging, says Abigail, and it’s not a job for everyone. “I believe whoever wants to be a caregiver in long-term care needs to be patient,” says Abigail. “They need to make sure it’s what they want to do because it’s not always easy.”
Abigail emphasizes that she learns from her residents every day. “They have wisdom. Some of the stories of their lives are really encouraging and challenging. I say, ‘How did you go through that?’ They will say to you about how they overcame that obstacle they had in life.”
Seniors need to know that we will not abandon them because they are old, emphasizes Abigail. “We need to show love to them and assure them that even though they are aging, the younger ones will take care of them.” Abigail notes that they gave to our communities and raised families, and now it’s time for us to help them. “We ourselves are going to get old. Whatever we give now, somebody else will give to us later.”