The work of a local couple at one of Centralia’s elder-care facilities has paid off.
Doris and Bob Grandstaff have been working together at Centralia’s Bristol Manor for the past seven years and this year the retirement home was recognized by its corporate owners for excellence.
Doris said it was a welcome affirmation that she as manager along with Bob, Christina Clay and Katie Young were doing the right things the right way.
Doris said she has been working in residential care since 1992. She got in because she wanted a job and, she stayed: “Because I love what I do, I enjoy it very much.”
She was living five miles from a facility named Golden Oaks, outside the town of Marceline, Mo. “Sandra Gasoroski was in charge there,” Doris said. “She put me to work and helped me get certified. I started with housekeeping and cooking and after I was certified I handled medications and doctors’ orders.”
After about a month, she said she realized it was her passion.
“It’s a busy life, but you make a big difference in peoples’ lives, people that need you.”
She said those who are proficient and committed begin to care for their charges.
“It’s the interaction between you and the residents. You begin to care about what happens to them. That really matters to you. They become like your grandparents, not somebody you are paid to take care of.”
That said, there have been changers since the early 90s, especially in those people she and her staff at the 12-bad assisted living home care for. “Back then,” Doris said referring to her early days outside Marceline, “the residents were between 70 and 100 years old and really didn’t have many special needs beyond what you’d expect for somebody getting old. Now we have a much younger group that often need a lot more meds and more difficult and complex medical situations.”
She said now it is not uncommon to have 60-year-olds, for example a military veteran she cared for, who had hard times taking care of himself and needed monitoring.
“People in general just have more health problems,” Doris said. “Back then we might get people who had slight heart problems or strokes. Now we often see residents with multiple problems, a lot of diabetes, a lot of hypertension and related issues.”
In the face of that, her passion for caring helps her return to the harness and work at taking care of her patrons every day.
“Coping? Well, it’s not easy. Sometimes it really tugs at your heart. You can only work with the family and do the best you can.”
She discussed the difference between Bristol Manor and other elder-care facilities.
“We are not a skilled nursing facility,” Doris said. “Our patrons are still able to get up, able to walk and dress themselves, feed themselves, though sometimes we have to give them a little help.” One requirement, she said, is they must be able to respond to things such as smoke and fire alarms.
One challenge of the business, she and Bob said, “is keeping good help. Not everybody wants to work for what we can pay and we are close enough to Columbia where the wages are a lot higher. Also, people think it will be an easy job and it is not. Day to day we can have a very fast pace.”
When Doris can take time away from the job, not a frequent thing, she said, she enjoys spending time with she and Bob’s five children, 15 grandchildren, “and several great-grandchildren.”
“I also like embroidering and decorating,” she said. She also likes to occasionally indulge in her favorite food, fried chicken. “And don’t forget the angel food cake with strawberries,” Bob said from the background.
The two have been married for nearly 47 years, they said, meeting by chance at a roadside diner between Dumas and Amarillo Texas.
“I was hauling grain from Amarillo Texas to Montana and other places,” Bob said. “I sometimes parked to sleep in this parking lot outside a little diner that had been closed as long as I could remember. Then one morning, there was a banging on my door and there was this lady, Doris standing outside my sleeper cab asking me if I was ready for breakfast. It turned out somebody had opened the diner since the last time I had passed through. We’ve been together ever since.”
They are going to retire soon, she said, to make room for some younger professionals, and take time to deal with some of Bob’s health issues. Doris said she has learned a lot in her life, but working at Bristol Manor has enforced one lesson she hopes everybody already knows. “Treat everybody how you would like to be treated.”