The Indispensable Nurses of ILA

The Independent Living Association (ILA) provides care and services for hundreds of intellectually and developmentally disabled, or IDD, men and women living in over 35 ILA group homes located throughout New York City. Each of the homes is staffed 24/7 by a House Manager and Direct Support Professionals (DSPs), who work in shifts to oversee the health and welfare of the residents. Not only does ILA provide food and shelter for these Individuals but also their medical care.

The medical care of each individual falls under the supervision of ILA’s Registered Nurses. Caroline “Carrie” Gilshen is one of these RN’s and has been working with ILA for almost 11 years. Her job entails ensuring each Individual’s healthcare under her charge every day. ILA nurses are responsible for either one or two homes with the number of residents in each home ranging anywhere from 2 to 10 people. Carrie makes visits to two group homes, Lucille and South Greenleaf, that are located in Staten Island where she also lives with her daughter, Teresa. In the past, each nurse was assigned to provide medical care for residents in one home. However, a pilot program whereby one nurse would provide care to two homes–without compromising safety and quality–proved to be successful and is currently being implemented.

A typical day for Carrie and the other nurses usually begins at 7:00 or 8:00 AM with the first home visit. Each resident’s vital signs are checked, as is the medication book for that individual and the medical supplies in the homes. Medications are generally dispensed or “poured” by the DSP’s after they have been extensively trained by the RN staff.  The DSP’s are also evaluated yearly on their medication dispensing tasks. “Staying on top of everything is probably the most challenging part of the job,” Carrie says.

Appointments for the residents who must be seen by outside medical personnel are made and followed by the RNs. They must also follow any medical consults from previous appointments and follow up on any ongoing in-house medical needs.

Registered Nurses have many employment options these days. Although Carrie has worked in various hospital settings including dialysis treatment, detox and medical floors, when the nursing position arose at ILA, she seized the opportunity. Carrie appreciates the teamwork of the entire ILA staff and is constantly impressed with how each home is kept up and made comfortable and safe for their Individuals. Although COVID-19 has made daily tasks challenging for many, virtual meetings have replaced the monthly in-person staff nurse meetings.

Carrie, like many of the other nurses, also appreciates the positive feedback and compliments from many of the families of the Individuals, some with whom she has developed close relationships.  She realizes how important it is for the families to know that their loved ones are being cared for in safe and healthy environments.

Thank you, Carrie and all the ILA RNs, for your professionalism and devotion to the many men and women in the ILA family.

If you’re a nurse seeking a fixed schedule that includes an excellent, comprehensive benefits package and opportunities for personal and professional growth, ILA may be the right fit for you! Interested in joining our dynamic team? Learn more about working at ILA or apply today.