Three decades of doing the right job for the right reason –
By Patricia Beech –
If you ask Neita Nicely what she loves about her Activities Assistant job at the Monarch Meadows Nursing facility in Seaman, she answers without hesitation – “the residents”.
“It’s the smiles on their faces when I do something for them,” she says.
Nicely has, in fact, spent her entire adult life doing for others.
Her boss, Greg Stout, says she has a unique connection with the facility’s clients.
“She has an absolute knack for honing in on the residents most in need of tender loving care and then being the ‘go to’ person for those residents” says Stout. “She is the glue that holds an operation together, gives it meaning and provides the right direction, and all this is done in the most quiet and unassuming manner.”
Nicely believes her work is her “calling”.
“I don’t know if there’s anything else I could have ever been that I would have enjoyed so much,” she says. “I wasn’t blessed with any children so I feel like these people are my kids, and I take care of them just like I would if they were my own.”
Nicely was recently recognized for her quality work with residents at the nursing facility.
She was presented the Caregiver of the Year Award during the Ohio Health Care Association’s award ceremony on May 2 at the Columbus Convention Center.
She says she was overwhelmed by the win.
“It validates all the years I’ve put into the job,” she says. “I didn’t know whether or not this was the job I wanted to do when I started, but it just kind of grew on me as time went by, and now, I love it.”
In addition to her award, the OHCA presented Nicely with a seven-foot cardboard cut out of her own likeness. She jokes that she “had to cut herself in two in order to get the thing in the car”.
Nicely began her care-giving career 31 years ago working as an aide in a local nursing home facility. She earned her STNA certificate, then later accepted the Activities Assistant position.
It didn’t take long before she knew it was the job for her.
“Neita is the quiet, behind the scenes, yet primary catalyst in pulling off wonderfully orchestrated and meaningful special events for residents, families and staff,” Stout said. “Her self effacing, yet life-long passion to caring is infectious and permeates through all of the employees of our facility.”
Fellow employee Heather Frost says Nicely is “wonderful to work with”.
“She’ll go above and beyond for anybody all the time, anything she’s asked to do, she does it,” Frost said. “The residents all love her, the staff all love her. It’s a very well-deserved award.”
Stout calls her the “Swiss army knife of our operation”.
“Neita will literally roll up her sleeves and pitch in with any facility need. She can do care plans and assessments; provide assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs); sweep the floors; feed the facility’s pet dog, Lucky; call BINGO; cook; buy Christmas presents; change beds; drive residents to appointments; and drive the bus,” he said. “With 30 years experience, she has worn many departmental hats and can offer sage advice to all.”
Nicely has completed additional training and healthcare education classes – 26 of them in the past five months – as well as all in-service and certification requirements to facilitate keeping abreast of all healthcare regulatory initiatives.
“Her intelligence and experience allows her to see how all of the moving operational pieces fit together in the provision of care to our residents and the importance of each department,” Stout said. “She is our facility ‘ground wire’, always able to cut through the extraneous and get to the bottom line of patient care and needs.”
According to Stout, Nicely represents “all that is right with care giving”.
“Neita is a very modest person,” he said. “Folks like her don’t do the job for recognition. She does it for the right reason in the most unassuming manner. We’re so proud to have her on our team.”