Noel Auld calls Jewish Home Lifecare his home away from home and refers to the patients and staff there as his family. He is committed to creating a true home for the elderly under his care and has a personal relationship with each one of them.
He came to the U.S. from Jamaica, where he worked as a machinist. His cousin, who was an employee of the nursing home, located on West 106th Street between Amsterdam and Columbus, informed him of their need for orderlies at that time. She then guided him through the process which led him to become a Certified Nursing Assistant 28 years ago.
“I fell in love with my job. I’ve been in love with it ever since,” said the longtime Harlem resident.
The people he oversees range in age from late sixties to nineties. His duties include making sure they are showered and prepared for the day. He takes this seriously and sees the appearance of his patients as a reflection of himself. “My vision is whoever I take care of, that’s me. When they go downstairs to the auditorium for an event, that’s a part of me who goes there,” he said.
Besides looking after their personal hygiene, Auld goes above and beyond his job description to nurture a rapport with his charges. “I know their likes and their dislikes because in knowing that, it prepares me to be in a better position to make them feel comfortable,” he said. The relationship is not one-sided, however, and the dedicated caretaker enjoys his patients’ friendship as well. “The respect that we have for each other goes both ways,” he said. “I have learned a lot from them. I love to converse with them, including talking about what’s happening in the world. They love to be in the politics of things also.”
Although he began as a part-time employee, Auld now works seven-and-a-half hour shifts five days a week. His work continues even when he is not on the clock. “I come into meetings even when I’m on vacation. When I’m off, they know my schedule,” he said. In his spare time, he also serves as a union delegate and his duties include enforcing their contract agreement.
Auld is also an integral part of the committee assisting Jewish Home with their creation of The Living Center of Manhattan, a nursing home and rehab facility opening on 97th Street. It is being built in partnership with the Green House Project, a new care model that focuses on maintaining patients’ privacy, while fostering a sense of community. He is involved with training, communication and union negotiations for the new home that will replace the existing one in December of 2017.
At 67, Auld has a running joke with his patients, who tell him he should join them as a resident there. When asked when he will retire, he said, “I don’t put a time on it. I would really like to be here when the new building on 97th Street is finished. That will be my legacy.”