Retired Nurse Launching Second Career in Home Care
Flexible Hours, Meaningful Work
Mary Ann Rodgers became a registered nurse in 1986. After years of working as a hospital RN on a medical/renal floor and in intensive care, the on-the-go mother and pastor’s wife switched from full-time nursing to occasional private-duty nursing.
“After I stepped away from hospital work, I was offered a number of nursing opportunities, but most of those were a large commitment that involve weekends,” explains Rodgers. “With my husband’s work, weekends don’t work for me. Butcaring for people is who I am.”
Eventually, Rodgers found her second career niche in at-home senior care. In April 2018, she joined Right at Home West Dundee, Illinois, an in-home care provider for seniors and adults with disabilities. “Now I work 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday,” said Rodgers. “This schedule fits with my life, and it’s the primary reason I said yes to Right at Home.”
Career Alternatives for Retired Nurses: From ER to LR (Living Room)
“I don’t work as a nurse specifically now, but I can certainly draw upon what I’ve learned in my nursing career,” Rodgers points out. Her hospital nurse experience prepared her for caring for older adults with challenging health conditions. “Because I’ve worked in acute health settings, I know how to look beyond the disease process and see the person,” Rodgers says.
Rodgers provides cognitive support and hands-on care for a Right at Home client in the end stage of Alzheimer’s disease, Mrs. A*.
For years at her church, Mrs. A was the greeter doling out warm hugs to everyone. Rodgers knows the best medicines for Mrs. A now are simply a good-morning hug and belting out old hymns. Every time they meet, Rodgers always greets Mrs. A with a hearty embrace.
“Although my client is afflicted with a decreasing ability to utilize her mind effectively, she’s still that woman who gave hugs to every person who walked in her church,” Rodgers shares. “She’s still a mom, and you can still see her play that role when her children walk in the door. Another really important part of taking care of people effectively is interacting with their families and walking alongside them as they deal with their loved one’s declining health. I can’t make these clients all better, but I care well for them.”
Rodgers and a team of other Right at Home caregivers ensure Mrs. A receives personal care and companionship services around the clock. In engaging with Mrs. A, Rodgers has played Boggle® with the senior and helped her paint, read and review basic colors and shapes.
Fastest-Growing Occupation—Direct Care Workforce
Home Health Care News reports that the “home care workforce has more than doubled in size between 2007 and 2017.”1 As America’s senior population continues to skyrocket—climbing from almost 48 million people currently to a projected 88 million by 2050—the number of skilled home care workers is pressed to keep pace with the burgeoning demand. Professional caregivers like Rodgers will find outstanding opportunities within adult home care as a first or second career choice.
As a registered nurse, Rodgers is a fan of Clara Barton, the founder of the American Red Cross, who during the Civil War suggested that instead of sending the soldiers on the frontlines supplies shipped in sawdust, they use cornmeal so the troops would receive food rather than just sawdust.
“Clara didn’t prevent the war and the injuries,” says Rodgers. “She didn’t come up with any cutting-edge research—but she made life better, utilizing the resources she had. She took what she had, thought outside the box, and made life better for those men. That is the spirit of what we do through Right at Home.”
*Name changed to protect the client’s privacy.