Resident Assistants like Joseph Taropurua provide direct care to residents every day with compassion and dedication. In honor of National Nursing Assistants Week, we share Joseph’s story of how he provides the extra measure of care to make each resident’s day special.
Greeting each person with warmth and sincerity
As Joseph strolls through the halls at Presbyterian Homes of Bloomington, he takes time to personally greet each resident. The residents respond as if he’s an old friend, teasing him lovingly and excitedly exchanging stories about their day. Joseph brings to life the PHS value of service excellence in every interaction he has with the residents. His reputation precedes him, but it didn’t just fall into his lap, he earned it.
Several residents shared their experiences; each one raved about Joseph’s personalized approach, sense of humor, compassionate heart and contagious smile. Resident Bev Halvorson shared, “I can’t say enough about Joseph. He’s kind, thoughtful and puts his all into his work.” Joseph took an unconventional path to his career in older adult services, but it is clear that he is in the right place.
Compassionate by nature
Joseph believes the culture he grew up in and his profound experience with his mother formed a respect for older adults early on. At 19 years old, Joseph relocated from the Solomon Islands to the United States where he earned his college degree in mechanics. The people of the Solomon Islands value taking care of parents and grandparents at home; there is no concept of a care center in their culture. When Joseph’s mother was in the hospital undergoing cancer treatment, he was loyally by her side for three months. Eventually, his mother returned home where she passed away peacefully, surrounded by her community.
We can thank Joseph’s wife Martha for referring him to Presbyterian Homes & Services (PHS). Martha serves as a Registered Nurse at PHS and she encouraged him to apply as a Resident Assistant in 2009. After working as a mechanic for a time, Joseph realized that he would rather care for people and make them happy. He took a 180 degree turn from motorcycles and engines to become a Resident Assistant, enriching the lives and touching the hearts of older adults in a vocation that fits his personality and values.
Joseph’s natural gifts shine since he found his passion and purpose by serving older adults. Joseph believes his compassionate heart is a gift from God, “It’s already in there. I don’t know why I do what I do.” By giving his time and talents, Joseph simply knows that his work brings him more than a paycheck. Each day he is able to touch hearts with his quick sense of humor and smile. In essence, Joseph believes that when he spends his day focused on the residents and making them happy, their joy becomes his happiness.
The essentials of quality care: patience and the art of listening
Joseph has learned that the most important skills to master in caregiving are patience and the art of listening. Listening to the residents’ preferences and what they value has strengthened his good caregiving. “Give a personal experience to each person, every time,” he said.
Joseph’s advice is the heart of service excellence that residents have come to expect from PHS. He explains further, “You really need to talk to people when you care for them. Take time, sit with them, ask about their day and pray with them.” This quality of service sets PHS apart—daily affirming the dignity and value of every person whom PHS employees serve.
A "galaxy" of shining stars
Joseph has been nominated 13 times for the Shining Star Program in which residents and family members nominate employees who have delivered exceptional service. Each nomination is coupled with a donation to the PHS Foundation
and a golden Shining Star pin for the employee. Campus Administrator Michelle Sullivan says, “We call him the galaxy around here. Joseph has the most Shining Stars of anyone at our campus!” More meaningful than these golden pins are the glowing reviews of those whom Joseph serves.
Serve others, whatever it takes
“He’s willing to do anything to help us out and always does it with a smile,” resident Bev Halvorson glowed. Resident Marie Burton shared, “I have a refreshed impression of what aides are and do because of Joseph. He’s always smiling and he doesn’t play favorites.” The residents know that they can count on Joseph not only to provide quality care but to lift their spirits with the gift of his humor.
Joseph admits, “I am here to love and care for people.” Even on the most stressful days, Joseph wears a smile and focuses on others, whatever it takes. “It’s good for me too, whenever I’m tired or not feeling good, when I get here, I am alive and I love it.” With 13 shining stars on his lapel, it is clear that the residents love him too.
In jest, Resident Betty Pearson teased Joseph, “Now don’t go getting a big head over this, we like you the way you are!” With his kind, humble and compassionate heart, it seems unlikely that he will “get a big head” but will rather inspire others to discover the beauty and joy that a career in aging services has to offer.
With the encouragement of managers, coworkers, residents and his wife, a nursing degree may be in the near future. Joseph intends to continue on the older adult services career path and hopes to start nursing school in the fall with the help of the education assistance programs through PHS.
Thank you, Joseph for your dedication and service to those we serve. During this National Nursing Assistants Week, we extend gratitude to all PHS Resident Assistants who strive for service excellence every day to enrich the lives and touch the hearts of older adults.