Jennifer Parsons keeps residents moving forward!
She is leading Homeland residents in exercises meant to maintain flexibility.
“Feet in front of you, roll your ankles,” she instructs. “One, two, three.” They count up to 10. Then, she says, “Opposite way. One, two, three . . .”
The ankle-rolling concluded, Parsons reaches for a green ball, but a class member speaks up. Isn’t she skipping an exercise in the regular routine?
“See? I forgot!” Parsons says. “You should have said something.”
“I just said!” the resident said, to laughs all around. Then comes the missed exercise. “Knees apart, push your knees together with your hands. One, two three . . .”
Parsons is a Homeland veteran, on the job since July 2001. She is lead restorative aide, serving an essential function – making sure that residents maintain the progress they make in physical therapy.
“When they reach their therapy goals, they’ll come to my restorative program and I will do whatever I need to do so they don’t lose any strength and capability,” she says. “If they’re able to walk 500 feet, I make sure they walk 500 feet.”
Parsons, a West Virginia native and Harrisburg-area resident since age 13, entered health care after graduating from Cedar Cliff High School. She worked in the Polyclinic Hospital storeroom and then followed a friend’s suggestion to become a CNA. When her Polyclinic supervisor came to Homeland, Parsons followed.
Today, she remains a CNA with a diverse array of duties, helping with payroll and scheduling therapy in addition to her restorative work. She appreciates the Homeland tradition of staff helping wherever they’re capable.
“It gives you a break from your routine,” she says.
Parsons’ daily class attracts residents so dedicated that some will hold their own exercise sessions when she’s away.
“It’s nice that they look forward to seeing you every day,” she says. “I always try to be happy and to make them laugh. We’ll joke. I’ll tell them what’s going on in my house or when my daughter does something wrong or if I ate something good last night. I keep it real with them.”
Parsons enjoys interacting with residents, talking about their outfits or getting their hair done. She tries to keep residents connected with family, friends, and community. One resident wanted to go to her daughter’s house on Christmas Day, so Parsons took her there. That same resident recently mentioned her desire to attend a granddaughter’s bridal shower.
“If you want to go, I’ll take you,” Parsons offered, and that’s what they did. When another resident needed clothes, Parsons took her on a shopping excursion at Boscov’s.
“It felt like the right thing to do,” says Parsons. “I wanted to do it. And it was nice for her. It was something different.”