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Published September 11, 2012, 11:38 PM

Assisted living caregiver awarded for going the extra mile

DILWORTH – For Becky Sallberg, a caregiver at Serenity Assisted Living in Dilworth, her job is more than a career. It’s a calling.

By: Tracy Frank, INFORUM

DILWORTH – For Becky Sallberg, a caregiver at Serenity Assisted Living in Dilworth, her job is more than a career.

It’s a calling.

She doesn’t just take care of the residents she works with at Serenity, she puts in extra effort to make their transition into assisted living as smooth as possible, she said.

“I’m there for them,” she said. “Being in assisted living, it’s like a step backwards. They have to lose some of their independence of living on their own. I just feel like I’m there to make it as smooth a transition as possible.”

Now, Sallberg has been awarded for her efforts by being named Exceptional Caregiver in Assisted Living by Care Providers of Minnesota. Serenity Assisted Living nominated Sallberg for the award.

“I was very taken aback,” she said on winning the award. “I knew I had been nominated, but I didn’t think I would be a candidate to win at all.”

Sallberg has worked at Serenity for four years. Prior to that, she worked with people with disabilities. And while in high school, she worked as a certified nursing assistant in a nursing home.

Working as an assisted living caregiver is just a part-time job for Sallberg. She also works full-time for CCRI in Moorhead. CCRI (Creative Care for Reaching Independence) is a service-based organization that helps people with disabilities with things like strengthening their daily living skills and living more independently.

Sallberg said it’s rewarding to work in a field where she’s serving others.

“Every day, there’s a success with the client or a success with the resident or something they’re excited to tell me about,” she said.

In addition to taking extra time to listen to the residents she cares for and getting to know them, she also learns about their likes and dislikes, Sallberg said.

Her nomination form talked about how she heats up a towel for a resident who is always cold at bath time and washes another resident’s hair twice without complaint because that’s the way he likes it.

Even though Serenity has a full activity calendar, Sallberg also plans outings for the residents, such as the time she took them to a Daniel O’Donnell concert.

Sallberg said it was worth it to see how happy it made them.

“They were singing along to the music. At one point they were dancing,” she said. “Even weeks after, that was the topic of conversation. It was definitely a highlight for them.”

But Sallberg is very humble when others sing her praises.

“I hate tooting my own horn,” she said. “I don’t feel like I do more than any other staff. I truly feel like Serenity just allows staff to do that.”