A Winning Combination: Problem Solving and Compassion - Penn-Mar

A Winning Combination: Problem Solving and Compassion

Posted on April 23, 2018

Hayley Krzywulak admits she did not understand the developmental disability community until she started working with them. But she was extremely attuned to the feeling of joy and the sense of accomplishment she felt any time she made someone’s life better.

“Growing up I wanted to be a better person and help others,” she said. “Somehow I knew that would inform my career path.”

Today Hayley is a Residential Supervisor at a Penn-Mar community home in Shrewsbury, PA. Her journey to fulfillment began when she was working in a nursing home while pursuing her nursing degree in college.

During that time her beloved grandmother was battling end stage Alzheimer’s. Rather than see her go to a nursing facility, Hayley volunteered to take over her care so her grandmother could remain in her home. For the next six months, 30 hours a week, Hayley took on this labor of love in addition to juggling her job and full-time studies.

After her grandmother passed away she realized her need for something she could appreciate each and every day. “I wanted a job with meaning that allowed me to assist others the way I assisted my grandma in her everyday living needs.”

Just one month later, Hayley came to the conclusion that her dream was to make a difference in people’s lives.

She began her job search by Googling “jobs that provide direct care.” The first thing that popped up was Penn-Mar Human Services. The name meant nothing to her but when she looked at the organization’s website homepage and saw its tagline — “Transforming Life into Living” — she knew that was her calling and Penn-Mar was the place she wanted to be.

Hayley was initially hired as a Residential Assistant in a high behavior house and immediately bonded with the individuals in her care. When her workday was over, she returned to her studies and college classes full-time.

Within six months she was promoted to Senior Residential Assistant. Six months after that Hayley realized she was ready for a bigger challenge and eager to run her own program. She was hired as Residential Supervisor at the Shrewsbury home and consistent with her unique gifts, saw only opportunities where others saw challenges.

“In this career, problem solving, and a compassionate outlook go hand-in-hand,” said Hayley. “I love to see the ladies that I support grow and strengthen themselves.”

These critical skills came into play when one of the women Hayley supports continually refused to take her twice daily medications. Haley’s solution was to have the individual attend a diabetes training course and learn how to self-administer her own insulin. It took many months for the goal to be achieved but the individual’s feeling of independence and control won the day and she hasn’t refused her medication since.

In another instance, Hayley advocated for one of her individuals to have foot surgery so that she could dispense with her wheelchair, walk on her own and maintain her mobility. Since the surgery in February, this newly independent individual is now walking without a cane or a walker.

Not surprisingly, Hayley is also participating in Penn-Mar’s Career Ladders career development and credentialing program to help improve her skills and earning potential.

“At some point in my career, I want to grow within myself and advance in the company, while still providing direct care,” she said.

“I would love to be a training leader for self-advocacy but still follow my heart and be in direct care to continually remind myself of why I am here and what I do best.”

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