Welcome to the Eldercare Workforce Alliance! Tell us about yourself:
My name is Abigail Mwaura. I was born in Kenya, but I moved to Valparaiso, IN when I was eleven years old. I moved to Washington DC in 2015 to attend American University where I am currently a fourth year student studying Public Health and International Relations.
What made you interested in EWA?
Senior year of high school is where majority of Americans begin their journey of, “what do I want to do when I grow up?” It was no different for me. My last semester of high school I took a health course. Health Occupations was offered through a career and technical school collaborating with Valparaiso High School to help students discover their passion and interests. What attracted me to the Eldercare Workforce Alliance was the mission statement, “…to provide high-quality, culturally-sensitive, person-directed, family-focused care, and to improve the quality of life for older adults and their families”. It is very empowering to see a group focused on making sure that our aging community lives a fulfilling life in the same way I work to provide quality care to my patients as a direct-care worker.
Tell us about your time as a direct-care worker.
From a young age I have always been drawn to the health field, but I never knew exactly what role I wanted to play in it. Taking the health occupations course exposed me to emergency medical services where I quickly learned that it was not my calling. Shortly thereafter, I spent three weeks in a nursing home shadowing a certified nursing assistant where I felt more at home.
After completing the course and taking the state examination, I became a certified nursing assistant (cna) and began working at an assisted living in my hometown. As a cna I got a first-hand experience of caring for the older adults. I see the struggle of an aging person having to adjust to a living community where their independence becomes limited.
I mainly work with Alzheimer’s and Dementia patients, and just like any other job there are ups and downs each day. My patients have taught me a level of patience that I never knew I had, they have taught me to become a better listener, and overall they have added value to the term “respect your elders.” As a direct-care worker one should always put themselves in the shoes of the person they are taking care of and ask themselves how they would like to be treated if they were in a similar situation. Self-evaluating is important because it creates better quality care and attention.
What are you interested in doing after your internship with EWA?
Upon completing my undergraduate studies, I am interested in pursuing a career in public health policy and advocacy. I am also interested in furthering my education towards Global Health and Development, and hopefully be a part of the ongoing mission to provide standard healthcare to all individuals.