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VPM Audio Diaries: Life As A Nursing Home Aide

(Photo Credit: Andrey Akkerman)
(Photo Credit: Andrey Akkerman)

Research has found working at a nursing home is among the most dangerous jobs during the pandemic. Andrey Akkerman is a certified nursing assistant at the Virginia Home, a long-term care facility for adults with physical disabilities in Richmond. 

Before the pandemic hit, Akkerman worked as a speech and dental assistant. But his job quickly changed to a COVID-19 floor monitor: helping making sure staff had enough personal protective equipment, training staff on how to properly use it, and more.

This story is part of VPM’s Audio Diary Project, where Virginians are documenting their lives during the coronavirus pandemic. Would you like to share your experiences with VPM? Email us at [email protected].

Excerpts:  

Saturday, May 9

So, when I come into work with a positive attitude, I feel like it bounces back and everyone else around me has a positive attitude and an outlook on things that is optimistic, that this thing will eventually pass and we will get back to normal. As I sit back and reminisce on my day off, I can't wait till things go back to the way they used to be. I just want to go back to my regular routine, not worried about when is my next day off going to be or when are my residents going to be able to go back outside or have the social life that they used to?

Tuesday, May 19

As I walked through the building today, I noticed how quiet it was. Before the quarantine, every single department around 9 a.m. had people lined up waiting to get into the department to start their days, either with coffee or they were already in physical therapy doing their workouts.

As I walked through the empty hallways of the building, my thoughts got redirected to how the residents are doing in their rooms under the quarantine. I started thinking about how hopefully they have everything they need. Hopefully their TVs are working, and hopefully their communication resources are ok. I come into work every day in hopes to make a difference, even if it's just something as simple as connecting a family member with a resident. 

Tuesday, May 26

Today's a pretty good day, we just got word from our medical director that we are going to open up all the floors to all of the staff members. So before, the unit with COVID-19 was completely isolated from most of the employees here at the Virginia Home, there's only a certain amount of people that could go on the floor and they used a special entrance to come in and out, get on special elevators to bring residents down, to take them outside. But now everything is opened up. So now every single department at the facility can go on to the second floor and help the residents with their needs. So this is going to be extremely exciting for the residents and the staff that haven't seen these residents...I think it's been almost eight weeks now that the floor has been isolated. So it's definitely good news that we're opening up today, and should be a pretty exciting day.