One of Griffin Myslivecek’s most rewarding moments as a senior caregiver happened when he went for a bike ride with a resident.
For much of his life, this resident was an avid cyclist who had ridden coast to coast, recalled Griffin, who works as Executive Director of All Saints Senior Living in Shakopee. The resident was dealing with memory loss, and Griffin wanted to do something to make a better connection.
The key was getting the resident back on his bicycle. The change was almost immediate.
“It was so cool to … bike with him and go around the community which he grew up in and see him engage in conversations and stories that I’d never heard him talk about before,” Griffin said. “Being part of that was by far one of my greatest highs.”
From Griffin’s perspective, preparing caregivers to help support Minnesota’s rapidly growing senior population starts with local communities. With Minnesota’s senior population projected to double as baby boomers reach retirement age, the demand for professional caregivers is high and increasing.
One of the ways All Saints Senior Living is helping cultivate the next generation of caregivers is by partnering with Shakopee CAPS (Center for Advanced Professional Studies), an elective program for juniors and seniors at Shakopee High School that immerses them in career experiences.
These high school students act as “interns” at All Saints four days a week, two hours a day, and receive school credit. The student interns gain experience in every part of the organization, from dietary and nursing to marketing and administration. Every week, students visit a different department and become embedded in that department, learning how it centers around the resident and benefits the whole.
Most importantly, they get to initiate a new project to help improve what All Saints is doing, Griffin says.
“It’s really helped to increase awareness within our community for what long-term care is all about,” he says.
Shakopee High School Academy Coach Elizabeth Duehr says All Saints Senior Living has worked with eight high school interns over the past three years. Last spring, two interns gave their final presentations to department managers and residents at All Saints Senior Living.
“It was so meaningful to them,” said Elizabeth. “They loved the residents and who they worked with and they felt it – they loved it. It is so fun to see all of those generational experiences.”
Griffin looks forward to the continued partnership of All Saints Senior Living and Shakopee CAPS to introduce the profession to students. Griffin’s grandfather, his last living grandparent, is 95, and Griffin says he feels blessed to be able to spend time with him.
Griffin says his grandfather’s positive experiences with dedicated caregivers is a constant reminder that they play a critical role in providing comprehensive care and support.
“They are with our residents more than anyone,” Griffin says. “If we aren’t listening to what isn’t working, what tools or resources they may not have, ways in which they see we can improve, we are going to be impeded with our ability to provide quality care.”