Our Stories: Ruth Styles

Just over 18 years ago, Ruth Styles stepped off a plane hailing from the United Kingdom and into an interview room for a position as a CSW within ASLS.

“When I started on July 7th, 2000, I had only been in Canada for less than a week. I was still jet-lagged! I had my interview at 4 pm on the 6th and I started at 7 am the following morning,” recalls Ruth Styles.

At that time, ASLS only operated in Peace River and Grimshaw and had just opened its second group home in Grimshaw. “I attended a strategic planning meeting. The CEO (Shannon Websdale), all the board members and all the staff could fit in a small kitchen.”

ASLS also had far less technology, “the only computers belonged to the accounting and admin persons. Everything was handwritten – logs, incident reports, med incident reports, file notes. The first computer at Wilcox didn’t arrive until a couple of years after I started. It wasn’t Microsoft it was this horrible thing called a Corel and it had floppy discs!”

After her promotion to working supervisor of Wilcox cottage, ASLS sent Ruth to a year-long supervisory course. “That really helped me early on in my experience because in England I worked as a nurses’ aid – never in a supervisory role. That was the best thing they did by putting me on that course.” Ruth recalls, “It was the first time I learned about paradigms. Learning about paradigms is huge as a supervisor dealing with people because it is the way someone views the world. We all work within a certain paradigm. I really liked learning about that.”

During the course, Ruth was able to expand her own paradigm, “The most impressive thing was that they taught that to be a good supervisor, you have to be a good leader – and a good leader is someone who draws people to them and leads by example. Coming from England, I thought to be a supervisor you had to be like the teachers at school – strict, and horrible, and unapproachable. You just tell people what to do. That whole year came down to you inspire people. You’re a good leader if you inspire people and lead by example and I thought, Oh! Perhaps I can be a supervisor because that’s me!”

It turns out Ruth was right as she maintained her role as a working supervisor at Wilcox for 12 years and successfully advocating the inclusion of palliative care for ageing Individuals in Wilcox. Since her time at Wilcox, Ruth has occupied many roles within ASLS including Team Lead, Acting Manager of Stone Brook, Quality Assurance, Accreditation Coordinator, and CAPCC Coordinator. Learning new skills and growing and evolving with each role much like ASLS has over the years.

Currently, Ruth works as a coordinator in ASLS’ Brain Injury program in addition to running staff training courses such as NVCI and Abuse Protocols.