When caring for those in need, one brief moment can have indelible impact

Linda Quinn

Appreciation can take many forms and can come from many people. Have you ever stopped to think about the number of people you come into contact with daily, even for minute periods of time, on whom you have made an indelible impact?

Twenty-nine years ago, Linda Quinn walked through the doors of what, at the time, was a state-of-the-art national model for dementia care. The year was 1993 and the West Center opened in Fort Worth as one of only three Alzheimer’s certified nursing centers of its type nationwide.

Quinn, a Certified Nursing Aide, can now look back on 29 years of service at the James L. West Center for Dementia Care – years filled with lasting memories and unforgettable accomplishment as a direct care provider to residents of the center. But one of the most meaningful moments of her career occurred just this month, creating  a memory that will forever be in her heart.

Choosing to place a loved one in a long-term care environment is one of the single hardest things a family or spouse will decide to do. It’s easy to wonder if anyone might care about your loved one as much as you do, provide the care that you do, give them the love that you do.

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These questions were answered recently when a West Center resident with moderate dementia asked Quinn for a piece of paper and a pen. Not a traditional request, but one happily fulfilled because Quinn and the staff work with a framework to focus on ability versus disability. The pen and paper were provided and what transpired next was truly magical.

Encouragement comes from many sources, including co-workers, supervisors and families served but really never from someone receiving direct resident care. Receiving a note from someone to whom you provide direct care is especially meaningful, and even more so when the note is addressed to your supervisor.

Written on the paper were words in a spirit of love and respect focusing on Linda Quinn’s passion, integrity, and respect for the residents she has been blessed to serve over the past 29 years.

The note between staff and resident begins: “If you are fortunate to have Linda Q. in your life your world will be terrific” and ends with “my world is certainly better now that I know her.”

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When asked about her nearly three decades of service at the James L. West Center for Dementia Care, Quinn reflects on the lives she has been fortunate to touch and the families she has partnered with in the care of their loved ones. With a tear in her eye, she says: “This is not a job. It is a calling and a privilege. I can’t imagine doing anything else.”

Such is the difference we can make in the lives of others, including those living with cognitive impairments, when we invest the time to care!

Cathy Neece Brown serves as Chief Strategy Officer (CSO) at James L. West Center for Dementia Care in Fort Worth. She was recently promoted from Vice President of Mission Support. In her new capacity, she formulates strategies and strategic alliances with constituents throughout Fort Worth and Texas, both inside and outside the health care arena, as well as with the families of dementia residents at the West Center. She is a graduate of Leadership Texas and has received dementia certifications from LeadingAge Texas and Johns Hopkins School of Nursing.