Octavia Dail-Gilbert understands the importance of teamwork.
The Carol Woods care coordinator knows that without an atmosphere of collaboration in the 30-bed health center, residents wouldn't receive the high-quality care and attention they deserve.
"In this type of field, especially in long-term care, teamwork is a must," Dail-Gilbert said. "We must respect each other. We must respect everybody, no matter what their title is, because if we don't do it together, it will not get done, and the residents will not be taken care of."
Dail-Gilbert is the 2008 recipient of the Nurse of the Year Award from the N.C. Association of Nonprofit Homes for the Aging. The award is presented to a nurse who exhibits outstanding leadership and supervisory skills, knowledge of nursing requirements for state compliance and characteristics that promote quality of care, resident dignity, respect and independence while meeting the residents' psychological, social, emotional, physical and spiritual needs
Dail-Gilbert, a registered nurse, has been in nursing for 13 years, the last seven of which have been at Carol Woods.
Resident Louise Douglass attributes Dail-Gilberts' success to her intuitive "seventh sense" -- she knows when to assist residents and when to leave them alone.
"It's like some little genius, and I think of her as almost magic," Douglass said. "Every time I see her, she makes me happy. She comes in and knocks and gives me a hug and that makes me feel better."
Carol Woods' resident Hans Krusa also has experienced first-hand the qualities that make Dail-Gilbert an outstanding nurse.
"Octavia always made a point of stopping in my room as she passed, to chat and inquire of my physical condition," Krusa said. "She really cares, not just for her assigned residents, but also for all residents on the floor. . "In her understanding of nursing, the satisfaction of the patient is an important component in improving the health of the individual," said Krusa. "Octavia always made a point of stopping in my room as she passed, to chat and inquire of my physical condition. She really cares, not just for her assigned patients, but for all the residents on the floor. Welfare, to Octavia, means doing everything possible to satisfy the needs and wants of the resident."
Dail-Gilbert's colleagues were also quick to support her nomination, noting her excellent performance and work ethic.
"I feel blessed and very fortunate to have her working in our health center. She is someone I know I can count on," said Amy Alexander, the director of nursing at Carol Woods. "She gets the brunt of it from me, and I ask more of her, but I know every time I ask for something or need her help with anything she will come through, every time."
The health center implemented a new care model in 2007, and Dail-Gilbert was trained as one of five care coordinators that serve as team leaders. Alexander describes Dail-Gilbert as part of the "cream of the crop" of nurses that Carol Woods trained for this position.
"Aside from being a well-rounded nurse leader, she also stepped up and took on an incredibly gutsy move in terms of the care coordinator role," said Pat Sprigg, Carol Woods' president and CEO. "We'd never had that kind of position before. There was no model to model herself after, and she created the template for others to model themselves after."
Dail-Gilbert's typical day ranges from routine chores such as writing up doctor's lists and staffing schedules to more interpersonal and emotional interactions such as resolving staffing issues, checking on the residents and serving as a friend who lends an ear to those who have issues they need to communicate. One moment she can be seen at a resident's bedside, and the next answering a phone at the reception desk. No task is too big or too small, and no small request is insignificant to Dail-Gilbert.
Student nurses at Carol Woods study under Dail-Gilbert because the staff members know she has the ability to shape the students into really loving geriatric nurses. According to Sprigg, Dail-Gilbert has been an excellent preceptor for nursing students who receive part of their training at Carol Woods. "She provides an example to the field of nursing that proves this is a very honorable career," Sprigg said.
"Working with the geriatric population has taught me a lot through the years. I get to learn about their lives; actually you become like a family member, and if their families are not close, you become their family. You develop a relationship with them and feel like they're 'yours'," Dail-Gilbert said.
Dail-Gilbert had been a long-term care nurse and an employee at a mental and physical disabilities facility, but she felt something was missing. She applied for a nursing position at Carol Woods with the encouragement from her cousin, who was already an employee.
"I wanted some peace, and that's what I found, that's why I'm still here," Dail-Gilbert said.
Dail-Gilbert thanks many people for her success and for encouraging her to become the nurse she is today.
"[I thank] the Lord, my mother, my grandmothers, my husband, my church family, and according to my son, he's the reason why I won this award," she said with a laugh. "He says I owe all the credit to him because 'if she didn't have me, she wouldn't have to work so hard!'"
"The fact that I was selected, even nominated, really blew my mind. I had no clue. Winning is wonderful," Dail-Gilbert said. "It makes me feel appreciated that others are watching me work and I don't know it. And, while even though you may not always get daily recognition, people do notice things. They want to recognize you, and they do it in such a nice way with this award."
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