Wiscasset woman receives caregiving award

Posted:  Saturday, October 11, 2014 - 12:00pm

Edna Sukeforth calls being a Certified Nursing Assistant “the hardest job you will ever love.”

“When you see the difference each day brings and the smiles you put on residents’ faces, it feels rewarding. It is an honor to be able to take care of the elderly,” said Sukeforth, who received the Maine Health Care Association’s “Celebrating Excellence in Caregiving” award Sept. 26 in Augusta.

Celebrating Excellence Awards are given each year to long-term care employees who exemplify the highest levels of caregiving and professionalism. Cove’s Edge Executive Director Cheryl Dobbelsteyn said that whether you talk to her team members or her residents, Sukeforth, of Wiscasset, clearly meets those standards.

Cove’s Edge is a rehabilitation and long-term care facility in Damariscotta.

While nominating her for the award, one co-worker called her an angel. Another said “there isn’t enough of Edna to go around.” Dobbelsteyn said Sukeforth’s team members feel better when she is there.

But more than anything, what makes Sukeforth truly special is the way she relates to the residents.

One woman said Sukeforth makes Cove’s feel like home. Another noted that Edna always remembers she likes orange juice in the morning.

“It is the little details in the care she provides that shows those residents how much she respects them,” said Dobbelsteyn.

Sukeforth said that respecting each resident’s routine helps create a sense of security, but it is also important to slow down and find those things that really make a difference.

One resident, who never talked, hated taking showers. One day, Sukeforth decided to see if the woman would enjoy a bath in the whirlpool tub.

The woman loved the bath so much she was soon singing and throwing the bubbles up in the air.

Another resident wakes up every morning unsure whether her husband is alive or dead, or if she has children. Each morning, Sukeforth gently reminds her that her husband has died and that she has daughters, one of whom comes to visit almost every day.

Sukeforth said it is important to remind the woman each day and it is just as important to break the news in a way that is sensitive to her state of mind. Each morning the woman takes Edna’s hand and places it on the side of her face.

It is a difficult job but when she can find a way to help a resident, she said, it is all worth it. And she said that providing good care is a team effort.

“It just isn’t one person it is a whole team that makes a difference, because not one person can make it on that floor. And I truly feel that we have the best crew,” she said.