My father was in the nursing home for nearly two years; my mother has been in the same facility for over a year. I have also had an aunt and an uncle in the same place.
With my father, I really didn't know the nursing staff. However, I was touched by how, when he was in his last days, each person who had cared for him waited until I left the room and came in to tell him goodbye. Food was quietly brought in to me so I didn't have to leave him. A few people came in to reminisce with me, and we cried and laughed about some of Dad's escapades, as Dad was challenging to care for. In Dad's obituary, we made it a point to thank the staff for the loving care which Dad received from each of them.
When Mom unexpectedly went in a couple months later, we were numb. She has become outspoken, and she too can be difficult. Many times, the families of the residents are critical of the staff instead of realizing how much they truly do care, and families sometimes even blame the staff for the death of a person who was not in good health to start with. I told the director of nursing the other day that the aides and nurses care for Mom in the literal sense, but most also truly have come to love her despite her outspokenness, and we are so blessed to have them. They do this with little or no expectation of reciprocal love--for these people it is a calling and not just a job. Plus, some of the staff quietly do things for the residents, like buy shampoo and lotion so the residents have nice things; they do this out of love and not because they expect recognition. What more could we ask for?
Consequently, I am so grateful for the thankless job these people do for my mom and for us. They have touched my family in many ways that they will never know.