On Thanksgivings in the past, Blackburn recalled, the facility has employed a lot of temp agency nurses because staff workers like to be home for the holidays, too. That made it all the more important for patients to see someone familiar, said Blackburn. She tries to greet every patient by name. Even those with dementia perk up a bit when she does that, she says.
The home will be decked out with Thanksgiving decorations and hopefully a Thanksgiving-themed lunch will be served. Some visitors will come through, spending time with their family members who are residents.
Blackburn struggles with what her absence means for her five kids, including a 5-year-old and a 20-year-old who plays football for Georgia Tech. They’ll spend the holiday at home with her husband, her aunt and maybe her cousins and their kids.
She knows her kids don’t communicate all their misgivings with her over being gone for work. She feels guilty. But she paints a picture for them of the residents who live at her job and need someone to care for them.
“It’s tough, but I feel like it’s just something that I’m meant to do,” she said.
And when her workday is over, she’ll walk in the door at home to the smell of her aunt’s cooking, and her 10-year-old will ask, Are the residents OK? said Blackburn. “And I’ll say, ‘Yeah. You know, everything’s good at work.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been changed to note that Olivia Blackburn’s position is assistant director of nursing.