When Diane Giglio walked in the doors of a Providence skilled nursing community almost 35 years ago, it was the first time she’d been in a nursing home. It was also the day she knew she was called to serve there.
“I remember looking at the face of a woman who lived there, and I instantly knew this was where I belonged,” she says. “This is what I was born to do.”
A couple months later, she took an assistant position in life enrichment, and a little over a decade later, Diane became Life Enrichment Director there. She has never looked back. “I don’t want to do anything else,” Diane says. “I feel so fulfilled. My job is to bring joy to people—how could you ask for more?”
Diane now serves as Life Enrichment Director at Victorian Village Health & Wellness Center. She has always worked with residents in skilled nursing care, which means that, in addition to brightening the lives of long-term care residents, some of which have varying degrees of dementia, she also has the responsibility to meet the needs of patients in hospice, as well as patients in short-term rehab. Families consistently comment on Diane’s compassion and their gratitude for her willingness to do all things, big and small, to bring smiles to loved ones.
“I try to look at all their needs: spiritual, emotional, mental, physical, social,” she says. “That can be a challenge when you have so many different levels of need. But that’s why it’s important to really know the people you’re serving.”
Diane and her assistant meet with all residents and patients, as well as their families when possible. “I instantly make a connection with them. I want to know what they love to do, or even what they used to do,” she says. “I try to find a way to bring it to them in one form or another. I find a way to adapt things for their needs or abilities.” During the pandemic, that meant more one-on-one than usual, with FaceTime calls, window visits, and emails.
One aspect of Diane’s career is her ability to gather fantastic and diverse groups of volunteers from numerous organizations, all eager to learn more about serving seniors. The pandemic may have slowed down the volunteer effort, but now that buildings have opened up more, she looks forward to bringing this back.
“I love seeing the look in someone’s eyes when they figure out they love this work,” she says. “You see it especially with students, who wouldn’t otherwise think about serving the elderly. It’s really beautiful.”
Diane’s career has been characterized by selfless service, but she says she’s the one who benefits most from her job. “I just love being able to bring joy in the moment,” she says. “Their gratitude is so evident by their facial expressions, their appreciation and response. And the staff at the Small House, the care partners especially, give the patients here an amazing team, all happy to help wherever needed, especially as we wait to get back to normal.”
The Golden Rule
Diane is grateful for what the COVID-19 vaccine has accomplished, and she’s passionately supportive of healthcare staff getting vaccinated. “I think, if I were in the hospital, would I want a vaccinated worker taking care of me?” She notes that she feels it’s her duty to protect this vulnerable population in every way possible. “They are the ones who have the hardest time hearing us behind our masks, and they don’t have the luxury of reading lips, either, because now they can’t see our mouths. They’re the ones who have had the most taken from them. We need to do what we can to bring their way of life back to them, whatever it takes. Getting a shot isn’t that hard.”
Indeed, throughout her career, Diane has always let the golden rule guide her steps. “I think, what would I want for my own mother? And it’s pretty simple,” she says. “I’d want respect and kindness. So that’s my goal every day. And, really, that’s something we can all do.”