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Finding Purpose As A Direct Care Assistant

Direct Care Assistant finds purpose through job at ACR Homes.

Name: Adylene Ornelas

Current Position: Direct Care Assistant

Years at ACR Homes: 2

Hobbies: Dancing | Cooking | Cheerleading | ASL

Adylene's Direct Care Assistant Story

I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life before applying at ACR Homes. I learned about becoming a Direct Care Assistant when my friend happened to invite me to Scrubs Camp. We learned hands-on healthcare skills as high school students, and got to visit different healthcare organizations like ACR Homes. I was so excited when I got hired at only 16 years old, but I felt nervous during the initial training because I hadn’t even babysat before. Thankfully, the online training made me feel prepared, and when I did my first shadow shift everyone was so welcoming and kind. During my shadow shift, I had the chance to comfort a resident who was feeling sad. When we sat down together and read a book, I saw how much it helped her relax and I knew I would love this job.

As a Direct Care Assistant, I love hanging out with my residents. I get to do things like read books with them, have dance parties while they’re in their standers, sing songs together, and play games. I help around the house by assisting the nurses, doing activities of daily living, cleaning, laundry, doing brief changes, setting up tube feedings, and working with certain pieces of medical equipment like a Hoyer. As I’ve grown in my job, I’ve found fun new skills that I didn’t know I would have. I learned how to braid hair because I noticed one of my residents wore hers the same way every day. I wanted to help her change it up because I that's what I do with mine. I’ve also learned how to communicate better because each resident I work with communicates differently. I have an Uncle with disabilities living in Mexico, and my experience at ACR Homes has even helped me and my family better communicate with him.

The biggest thing I’ve learned while working as a Direct Care Assistant is responsibility. I'm not just taking care of the physical needs of people with disabilities, but the emotional as well. Spending so much time together helps you get to know each other so that it’s not just a one-sided relationship. It has opened my worldview and I truly see the world differently now.

Since I’ve turned 18, I’ll go through additional healthcare training to administer medication, work with more medical equipment, and take residents on outings as a Direct Care Professional. I’m nervous, but I keep telling myself not to be scared because I’ve already grown so much. I’ve gone from not knowing what I wanted to do with my life to being accepted as a nursing student at Concordia University in St. Paul, Minnesota. Working with the residents at ACR Homes has made me realize I want to be someone that people can really know and depend on. That’s why nursing is a great fit for me. If I could give advice to other high school students and young adults finding their career path, I would say, “Be open to new things even if you aren’t sure you’ll like it. It’s okay to be scared, but don’t be shy about exploring job options. It helps you figure out what you want to do.”