CNA Kristin Middlebrook: Compassion and Patience are Essential Skills

Certified Nurse Assistant Kristin Middlebrook fondly remembers her time with her great-grandmother. “I was around 11 and she was in her 90s. I always felt so wonderful when I helped her and she was so grateful.” That feeling of caring for another and fulfilling a need stayed with Kristin.

Fast forward to her adult years. Kristin went to school for graphic communications. “After I had my son, I needed to care for more than one person.” She had more to give.

She attended the CNA training program at Northwest Connecticut Community College. As a single parent, she was eligible for funding to pay for that education. Kristin’s grandmother helped look after her young son, who’s now 14 years old. Like Kristen, he’s also close with his great-grandmother due to the time they spent together when he was young.

After finishing the CNA program, she came to work at Noble. That was 2008. While she has moved to different areas of Noble, she now spends her time primarily on Riga and Whitridge Memory Care Unit. “While my training prepared me, there’s no substitute for hands-on experience.I had to learn how to handle situations, how to address issues. Now I have a kind of checklist that I go through to apply to situations, but since everyone is unique, I apply it differently in each situation.”

Kristin reflects, “I love the interactions with residents. It challenges me to look deeper inside a situation. How can I address it? What can I do? What am I not doing? What should I try now?” If she feels like she needs a new perspective, she can call on her Noble team, with whom she feels close. She also forges a connection to residents’ families. During COVID visitation protocols, she misses seeing them.

Her joy in her work is evident, “Having a resident say, ‘Just having you here made my day that much easier’ can make me cry sometimes. It makes me feel good to help them find joy in the little things.”

As for what makes a good CNA, Kristin is quick to answer, “You need patience and compassion--and an abundance of them.” And you need a work environment where you feel valued, which she clearly does at Noble. “It’s easy for me to move where I’m needed. Everyone is open to working together. I feel listened to and my ideas are taken on board. I’m part of a team.”

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