Some of you may have seen the monologue given by Miss Colorado in the talent portion of the recent Miss America Pageant. For those of you who haven’t, she is a nurse and she shared about her experience with a patient with Alzheimer’s disease. What stuck out to me the most about what she said was how she described the quality of relationship that she and her patient had developed. The foundation of this relationship was built upon her treating him first and foremost as a person instead of just treating his condition. At one point she quotes her patient as having told her, “You are not just a nurse, you’re my nurse, and you have changed my life because you have cared about me.”

In the Mandt System, we emphasize the opportunity that caregivers have to be a positive influence in the lives of the people they serve. That even in what seem like the most hopeless situations, that staff have the opportunity to offer hope in the lives of people who have lost hope or may have never experienced it before. They do this by treating people as people first, by showing them dignity and respect as they interact with them, and ultimately by providing a safe place for them to be.

It can sometimes be hard for folks who work in human services to remember how important relationships are in the work they do. There can be so much pressure to perform and limited resources available to do what’s needed. If my experience is also true for others, organizations don’t always support their employees as well as they could which contributes to burnout and loss of enthusiasm for the work being done, leading to low morale and high turnover. All of these things cause the relationships between caregivers and individuals served to suffer and in turn cause treatment to be less affective than it could be. This is why it is so important that our organizations be as supportive as possible to their employees. That they remember that in addition to the individuals they serve, that their employees are also people first.

Here’s a link to Miss Colorado’s monologue if you haven’t seen it and would like to.

Doug ZehrVogt, Mandt Faculty