Joyce Beck didn’t plan on a career in long term care. She was happily raising her son and daughter.

Then one day, her mother, who worked as a Certified Nursing Assistant at Haleyville Health & Rehab Center, called and said the nursing home needed some part-time help in a dietary department.

“I said I would try it,” Joyce recalls. “Two weeks after I went to work, the dietary manager quit and the administrator asked if I would take it. I’ve been here ever since.”

Joyce has worked at Haleyville Health & Rehab Center for 34 years. She oversees a staff of 12 and has worked every position in the kitchen.

“I oversee the whole department including groceries and supplies, care plans, coordinate special events, meal planning, anything that needs to be done,” Joyce said.

However, the best part of the job takes place outside the kitchen.

“I love to interact with the residents. My grandparents died when I was young so I did not get to be around them. That’s why I enjoy being around the residents,” Joyce said. “They (nursing home residents) have already experienced life from my perspective. If I live long enough I’m going to be in the same position. I would want to know that someone cared enough just to sit down and just say ‘Hey, how are you doing? Is there anything I can do for you?’”

Joyce has noticed dramatic changes in nursing home care over her three-decade career.

“Everything has changed in the nursing home industry since I went to work. When I first started, residents didn’t have choices. They ate whatever you cooked,” Joyce said. “We have choices now. The residents can participate in their own plan of care. They can tell you how they want their room, where they want to eat. They have all of these different choices that they didn’t. It is a wonderful place to be.”

Finally, Joyce has some advice for young people considering a career in long term care.

“You would be surprised at the blessing that it gives you and it enriches your life,” Joyce said. “I encourage them to spend time with those people and get into a field like that because the nursing home industry is wonderful. I’ve been there 34 years and I’ve enjoyed every day of it.”

The Alabama Nursing Home Association honored Joyce for making a difference in the lives of nursing home residents at Alabama’s Best Practices 2014. The crowd gave her a standing ovation.

Joyce and her husband Billy have been married for 43 years. They have two children, Michael and Melissa, and five grandchildren.

Here’s the recipe for Joyce’s favorite dish: German Chocolate Upside Down Cake. She serves this at Haleyville Health & Rehab Center.

German Chocolate Upside Down Cake

Ingredients

  • ½ cup chopped pecans
  • ½ cup shredded coconut
  • 1 box German chocolate cake mix
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • ½ cup confectioners sugar
  • Non-stick cooking spray

Directions

  • Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
  • Spray a 9 x 13 baking pan with non stick spray
  • Place nuts and coconut in the bottom of pan
  • Prepare cake mix according to box directions and pour over nut and coconut mixture
  • Mix together cream cheese and sugar and spoon small amounts onto the cake mixture in several places
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes

About Haleyville Health & Rehab Center:

Haleyville Health & Rehab Center is 97-bed skilled nursing center offering speech, physical and occupational therapy. Tony Culberson is the Administrator and Sandy Dobbs is the Director of Nursing. The facility is located in Haleyville.

 

Joyce Beck receives a certificate to recognize her 34 years of service from Alabama Nursing Home Association Executive Director Bill O'Connor at Alabama's Best Practices 2014.

Joyce Beck receives a certificate to recognize her 34 years of service from Alabama Nursing Home Association Executive Director Bill O’Connor at Alabama’s Best Practices 2014.