|Rita Brereton, Susan Smith McKinney Nursing and Rehabilitation Home
When Laughter is the Best Medicine
When caring for the elderly and most frail of patients who reside in a long-term care facility, Rita Brereton knows the value of a smile to make patients comfortable and at ease. The 57 year-old mother of five and 23 year HHC veteran works the overnight shift as a care technician at the Susan Smith McKinney Nursing and Rehabilitation Home where she’s known for bringing laughter to patients.
“The first thing I do when I start my shift is make rounds to see that everyone is safe and comfortable,” said Ms. Brereton. “There are about 40 patients in each floor and I know all of them. Some of them have problems adjusting when they first arrive but I try to make them laugh, tell them jokes, listen to their stories, and soon after, their outlook begins to change.”
Brereton says her passion for caring and helping others hails back to her native Trinidad where she remembers as a child always respecting and caring for the elderly. Those childhood moments are part of the reason why she sought a job in the health care business.
“She’s extremely dependable and generous. Everyone respects her and looks up to her, both residents and staff,” said Allan Brown – Assistant Director of Nursing.
Nothing brings bigger smiles than when Brereton sees patients recover and return to their families.
“It gives me a great sense of satisfaction because these were patients who couldn’t do anything for themselves when they came,” said Brereton. “They recuperated under our care and were able to go back to their loved ones.”
When she goes home after work, Brereton and her husband of 40 years enjoy a rich family life. They have 11 grandchildren and recently welcomed a new tiny addition to the family, a great-granddaughter. But this great grandmother still has plenty of affection for her patients.
“As I tend to my patients’ needs, says Brereton, “the most important thing about my job is bringing them dignity, comfort and love.”