About one month ago was my last day at the care center where I worked for one year. Not surprisingly, I miss the residents and their family members with whom I’d grown to know in that time. Though I worked there only part-time, I was still in the facility most days of the week. I feel like I knew many of the residents very well.
I bring this up because I spent some time last night with one of my close co-workers there. She asked me how my new work is going, and I reported that I am happy with it, and that I am stimulated and challenged by it. All of these things are true, but I do find myself wondering how the residents at my old job are doing. I asked her how work is going, and she shared that a nasty stomach flu is spreading through the facility and otherwise spoke in generalities. I had a lot of trouble keeping myself from asking her about certain residents, especially one whom I’d seen on a 1:1 basis weekly. I didn’t ask her, and we didn’t speak about anyone in particular, and I know we were in the right for discussing our respective work in the ways we did.
I recognize that this is a tricky subject in some ways. I remember taking a class on counseling strategies, and spending a whole day (the class was one of those intensive, days-long classes) discussing the ethical and correct manner in which to regard past clients should you, for example, see them on the street. This past weekend I saw two daughters of one of those care center residents leave a restaurant I was entering. They didn’t see me, and I know they were not people whom I had seen on a therapeutic level, but I was still wondering what I’d do and say to them had they talked to me.
I think this is always a delicate matter. I think there are graceful ways to do everything, but that grace comes from thoughtful preparation.