Mother and daughter share passion for long-term care

Shayla Mahmalji and Marti Brende carpool to work every day. Shayla works in human resources, and Marti works in social services, but both daughter and mother share a passion for long-term care and love their jobs at Aftenro Home in Duluth, Minnesota.

“I’ve been in and around long-term care my whole life,” says Shayla. “I used to sing at the nursing home and got my nurse aid certification in high school. Then I ended up getting sick and became a patient myself in a nursing home.” After her recovery, Shayla decided to pursue human resources (HR) and public relations (PR). Now, Shayla serves as the HR/PR Coordinator at Aftenro Home.

Marti has always had a passion for geriatrics, and worked as a RN and now in social services at Aftenro Home. Soon, she will take the state board exam to become a licensed administrator.

For Marti, what makes her job great is helping seniors make the transition to long-term care when they need it and working with seniors’ families to make the transition as smooth as possible. “Helping the resident adjust is rewarding,” says Marti. “Social services mean caring for residents and families in all aspects of daily psychosocial and mental health needs.”

Shayla Mahmalji (left) and her mother Marti Brende.

For Shayla, the best part of her job is seeing her residents every day and seeing the smiles on their faces. “They greet me in the morning when I come in. They come visit me in my office and make sure the candy jar is filled. Each resident has their own flavor of candy they like.”

Shayla says HR is more than just hiring and firing. “HR in long-term care means truly understanding what it means to provide care and connect with residents. You need to have the same passion for caring as the direct care staff in order to effectively screen, select and manage direct care employees. You have to form relationships with residents so you understand what caregivers are going through.”

At 25 years old, Shayla became a nursing home resident herself and learned a lot on the other side. “I was in a wheelchair and had to learn how to walk again. When I went back into a working environment, I looked at it a whole lot differently.” Shayla stresses the importance of listening to residents. “Patience in senior care is what’s most important. You’ve got to listen to what your residents are telling you all the time.”

Both Shayla and Marti emphasize that quality senior care should be important to everyone. “Eventually, every Minnesotan will be touched by some area of long-term care.”


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