For more than 40 years, Phyllis Forbes worked in the telecommunications industry.
When she and others were offered a ‘voluntary separation package’ by her employer, she accepted it — but with much prayer.
“I wasn’t really scared,” she recalls. “I prayed and I got confirmation (about accepting the package), and so that was that.”
She did not waste any time. She had always liked nursing and helping people.
She also had a close family member who around the same time had been diagnosed with a terminal illness.
With the extra time she now had, she threw herself into caring for the individual full-time and from that experience, knew she had found her calling.
In fact, the experience helped her recognise her innate and unique aptitude for assisting those in need of nursing care.
Prior to her separation package, she had re-arranged her work schedule at the telecommunications company so that she could care for her ailing mother during the day and work at night.
She found herself doing the same thing when several work colleagues were also diagnosed with terminal illnesses.
Then an interesting opportunity arose during the time she was assisting her next-door neighbour cope with a terminal illness.
“It was while I was caring for my neighbour that one of her friends spoke to me about the Nursing Assistants programme,” she stated. “I made an appointment to see Mrs Kathy-Anne Swan and decided to go for it.
“When I started there were 22 in my class; now there are 15.
“I admit I was a little nervous at first. I saw all the chapters we would have to read and said ‘my head can’t keep all that,’
“But when we actually started applying what we had been reading, it helped put it all together and really made sense.
“To know I can be there to help make people comfortable; to help ease their fears ... I always think that the position could be reversed.
“I could be the one in the bed and how would I want others to treat me?
“I always tell myself that. You don’t shove or yell or push, because you wouldn’t want someone do that you.
“I have learned a lot. In the last five months of the programme, we were assigned to different facilities.
“My group went on the third weekend of each month. I worked at the Continuing Care facility where you meet everyone – not just seniors,” she explained.
Phyllis sat the final exam of the nine-month programme on May 11.
She has done well and has already been offered (and accepted) a position in a senior’s facility.
“Don’t look at your age. Don’t say ‘Gosh, I’m too old to do that’. Don’t feel anything is impossible. All things are possible. If you have the dream, the time and the passion... get going.”
The Bermuda College Certificate for Nursing Assistants programme is offered on a part-time and full-time basis.