Kristen Milledge of Homestead Assisted Living of Chariton

April 20, 2023

Seventeen years ago, Kristen saw an advertisement in the newspaper for a local job opportunity in long-term care. She applied and was hired at Homestead Assisted Living of Chariton and found her passion and home away from home. Kristen describes her career in long-term care as “the most rewarding job I have ever had.”

How did you get started in the long-term care profession?

I was a certified pharmacy technician from 1993-2005. In 2003, I became the first pharmacy training specialist for HyVee Corporate. I would go into new stores and set up the pharmacy and training staff on the software. I would stay on-site for a week after opening to work through any problems. I loved the  job, but the travel was difficult as I had a daughter still at home. I quit and began looking for another job. My sister saw the ad for Homestead in our local paper and encouraged me to apply. I really didn’t think I had a chance, but 17 years later, I’m still here!

What do you like most about working in long-term care?

I enjoy being able to care for people I’ve known my whole life. I grew up in Chariton. I have had former school teachers, parents of good friends, neighbors and former Sunday School teachers as tenants. I know most people that come to Homestead, and I think that gives me an advantage in the care I give. They know my parents and my siblings. There is a preexisting level of trust that, with tenants you don’t know, takes time to gain.

What would you tell others to encourage them to consider a career in long-term care?

This has been the most rewarding job I have ever had. There are so many things to be learned from this generation. They have seen and gone through things we never will. I have discovered my passion, working with those who have some kind of dementia. I had a grandmother who developed Alzheimer’s in her early 60’s. I was very young and never got to know her. I don’t remember what her voice sounded like, or remember something she cooked that was my favorite. In working at Homestead with our dementia residents, I approach them like I would have my grandma, if I had been able. I always tell staff to care for our tenants the same way we would like our own family members to be cared for. If you’re thinking about long-term care as a career – do it!

What lessons have you learned working in long-term care that also help outside of work?

Too many to talk about! I think “don’t sweat the small stuff” is one. You get a sense of perspective when you’re caring for folks who are on the last leg of their journey. What an honor it is to be part of that, and to have families’ trust and have faith in us to give them the very best. The other thing would be patience. Tenants who live here aren’t in a big hurry. Breathe……and enjoy!

When you’re not at work, what do you enjoy doing?

I have three children, their spouses and nine grandchildren – they are my world! My parents still live in the home we all grew up in. I am the oldest of seven, so family time is the best! I am an avid Hawkeye football and men’s basketball fan, win or lose. I also enjoy quilting, antiquing, checking out antique shops, politics and watching Seinfeld and Andy Griffith reruns!

What is your favorite quote and why?

“Find out what you are passionate about, then you will find your purpose.” We all have a purpose – a reason God decided the world needed you. I found mine in my 40’s. It’s why I get up every morning and do what I do.

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