Typically, complex needs means an Individual has a developmental disability and/or a mental health challenge that requires specialized services and programming.
Some of the Individuals that Care supports have intensive care needs and serious behavioural challenges.
What could that look like?
Swearing and the use of derogatory language
Shouting, screaming, crying. Sometimes screaming for long periods of time
Self-injurious behaviour such as slapping or punching their own face or head
Seizures and/or other complicated medical needs
Kicking, slapping, punching, shaking, and grabbing staff, housemates or community members with enough force to cause serious injury
Substance seeking behaviour
Sexualized behaviours such as masturbation or the use of sexual language
Repetitive behaviours such as asking questions or repeating the same phrase
Destruction of property
Hallucinations, hearing voices and/or other symptoms of mental illness
Flipping or throwing furniture or other objects in the room
Chasing or lunging
Removing clothing in inappropriate settings
And those are just some examples.
Why the behaviours?
That is a complex question.
Many of the Individuals Care supports suffered trauma in their lives, some very severe, on-going trauma that one never truly recovers from.
As research has proven, trauma changes the brain.
When you add to that communication and/or language barriers, physical barriers or limitations, developmental delays, medical diagnosis and/or complications etc., it is hard NOT to become upset and scream or want to lash out.
That is where Care comes in.
Care has an in-house Behavioural Supports team that was established approximately two decades ago that has evolved throughout the years to meet the growing needs of the Complex Needs community.
What they do:
Teach coping strategies
Work to understand the function or cause of behaviour
Develop and coach staff in carrying out programming needs and support through crisis
Care also develops specialized education and training to support its employees that provides a better understanding of the Individual’s needs they are supporting and how to manage those behaviours of concern.
Each Individual has very specific care plans in place that are regularly reviewed to ensure that the proper steps are being taken to identify and replace Behaviours of Concern with Positive, more productive Behaviours. Those plans also include aspects of our organizational Mission.
Care prides itself on being able to offer a variety of training courses and resources to help staff members better support Individuals in the Residential, Behavioural and DSL programs. The newest training opportunity being offered is Hearing Distressing Voices. This is a simulation-based training that aims to build empathy and greater understanding of what it is like to live with hearing voices. It is a peer-reviewed approach that will allow the support worker to better understand the experience of someone who hears voices.
What’s involved? The first half of the class talks about mental health and recovery and introduces the class to Pat Deegan, the founder Pat Deegan & Associates and creator of the Hearing Distressing Voices Simulation training. Then, participants will be given a sound file to download to their personal phone. In class, they will be asked to engage in a variety of simple tasks while listening to a simulation that mimics what a person who hears voices might experience.
Do you have to work with someone with a mental health challenge to take the course? No, of course not. This course is designed to benefit the general public.
Who at Care should take this course? Anyone interested in understanding the world of the individuals we support a little more.
Who’s teaching it? Jen, Care’s Senior Programs Team Lead and Behavioural Specialist. Jen has taken the course herself and has co-facilitated a number of sessions.
Care Support Workers, if you’d like to take this training watch Kudos and ShareVision for announcements on times and dates. Classes will occur in both the North and South regions.
We continue our Care Journey series that takes a closer look at caring for a loved one living with a disability and making the decision to find the right supports when the time comes. Thank you Eileen for your contribution to this blog.
Since 1969, Care Human Services has supported approximately 3000 Individuals and John Coristine has been one of those awesome Individuals for the last 35 (and counting) years.
John has known us as:
The Peace River and District Association for People with Special Needs (1979-1987)
The North Peace Community Living Society (1987-2003)
Accredited Supportive Living Society (2003-2006)
Accredited Supportive Living Services Limited (2006-2019)
Care Human Services Ltd. (2019-currently)
He and his family made the decision for John to receive supports in 1986 when he was 18 to allow him to live more independently with friends and mentoring. John’s sister says her brother was excited to move into an apartment with a roommate. He was also supported in getting a job which was important to him.
Eileen says their mother made plans for John to receive supports because she felt if he would have stayed at home, he may not have had the independence and self-esteem he is known for.
You may be familiar with John, he was affectionately known as the Cowboy Guy in Peace River, making friends everywhere he went.
When it was time to transition John from the Independent Living Supports program, Eileen says John and his family felt like they were a part of the plan which helped everyone start the next chapter in their lives.
Eileen says the supports her brother received from Care over the years was the stability he needed. There was and continues to be someone always around who understands and helps him day-to-day.
Did You Know – John represented the region in the Special Olympics!
Solomon Okhifoh is a Support Worker and has been with Care for two and a half years. He is married with two teenaged sons and is originally from West Africa.
“I fondly tell people that I am from heaven originally, but when it was time for an excursion to planet earth, I started out from Nigeria in West Africa. I then proceeded to the United States and now I am in Canada. This may be my last stop before returning to heaven.”
He applied for a Support Worker position because he enjoys “working with people who cannot help themselves. I believe someone needs to be around to make them comfortable and feel valued.” He says he enjoys what he does, “it is very rewarding and exciting. No two days are ever the same. You are forced to come up with innovative ways to get value for the Individuals we support.”
Some days are more challenging than others but Solomon always looks for the positive in every situation. “Everything that has a beginning must have an end. This situation is bound to expire very soon.”
“It takes someone great to acquire the vision to help a population that is often overlooked by many and the strides that the organization has made over the years. It is profound.”
Solomon is very active when not supporting Individuals. Along with a second job he “is also a full-time student. I am involved in various committees in the City (of Grande Prairie) and I also do radio and TV ministry.”
An interesting fact about Solomon is that he was an actor in the CBC series “Republic of Doyle”. “I was a cop on that show. I am a songwriter and I play the bass guitar and drums. Me and my family hope to come out with a gospel CD within the next few years.”
What do most people not know about you that you would like them to know?
“Though an engineer, a project manager now, my love for people always draws me to work with the community in more practical ways. I love advocacy and I often find myself doing just that irrespective of where I am. I hate oppression with everything in me and will fight with the last drop of blood to overcome it. To most people, I am a very quiet and gentle individual, but I count myself as a gentle lion who can suddenly get aroused at the sight of injustice. Incidentally, I graduated from a university, whose emblem is a lion and graduates are referred to ourselves as lions and lionesses. Our motto is “To Restore the Dignity of Man”. I am all for restoring people to their full potential and dignity. Oh! Did I mention that I am also a motivational speaker?”
“Beside a Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering, I have a Master’s Degree in Technology Management, and I am in the last phase of completing a Master’s Degree in Public Administration.”
“I decided to take a Public Administration program because I identified deficiencies in the way our City has been managed by both administration and council. This year, I am running to be elected as a member of the City of Grande Prairie council. I believe that the City needs to move ahead and make this a better place for future generations. I am running on the pillars of an affordable, safe, strong, and integrated community. We need to solve the problem of high cost of housing, which leaves no option but homelessness to many of our fellow citizens. Grande Prairie has been on the list of most dangerous cities in Canada for too long and I want to work with all stakeholders to move us out of that list, and make the City safer by combating drug trafficking and other social vices that have given us a soured reputation. I want to create an environment for cultural exchanges and to harness the potential that immigrants bring to Canada and to our beloved city.”
If you would like more information on Solomon’s run in the municipal election you can follow him on Facebook, Twitter and coming soon www.solomonis.ca. He is also looking for campaign volunteers this summer.
Thank you Solomon for all you do at Care and in the community of Grande Prairie!
Ron is one of our Recreation Coordinators at our DSL facility Stone Brook who is widely and affectionately known in Chinese watch and clock circles by his nickname “Bethune of the Watch Industry”.
Ron Good began his work with Care (ASLS) on March 1, 2012 as a Casual Community Support Worker, working overnight shifts at the Peace River I residence. He transitioned to a Full Time position as a Community Support Worker in September of that year.
He remained a Full Time night shift CSW, working at both PRI and PRII until the late summer of 2017, then assisting with the company’s HR department as a Coordinator, until the spring of 2018.
That spring, he returned to his position as a Community Support Worker, initially as night staff at the Berwyn residence and later, working also days or nights, at both PRI and PRII as needed.
During the summer of 2018, Ron was tasked with a specific full time project: finding additional appropriate candidates for the CSW positions at our residence in Berwyn, working with a very challenging Complex Needs resident. By the end of that summer, the Berwyn residence was fully staffed with suitable employees, many of whom are still employed with the Care.
In October of 2018, Ron accepted the Residential Coordinator position at the Berwyn Residence. Ron continued in that position until taking a medical LOA in March of 2020.
On his return to work, Ron was offered and accepted a new position as Recreation Coordinator at Stone Brook. He now works primarily for the PDD side, but also cooperates with the Recreation Coordinator for the DSL side, ensuring a full slate of recreation activities for all residents of the facility.
Ron has an active community life apart from his work with Care and, even though his brother Don also resides in the Peace River area and he has many friends here, ‘community’ might best be seen as world-wide.
In 2008, Ron became interested in the history of wristwatches and clocks in The People’s Republic of China, a history that had – until that time – been almost entirely overlooked by anyone in the West. Since then, Ron has amassed a leading Western collection of Chinese timepieces, mostly wristwatches, as well as a substantial collection of associated ephemera, parts, tools, and historical documents.
Since 2011, Ron has visited China six times, for a month each time, meeting industry pioneers and leaders, executives and workers, and collectors and educators across that county.
In 2014, Ron became the first non-Chinese person with a membership in the China Horologe Association (the governing/coordinating body for the Chinese timepiece industry). He is now recognized by the Chinese government, and known in the greater Chinese horological community, as the prominent Western historian on this subject. Hosted and provided hospitality by the CHA, he’s visited numerous factories and museums, and attended China’s most respected watch and clock industry expositions and summit meetings.
Ron’s activities have appeared in local newspapers, but also in the Financial Times and he’s also been featured in Chinese TV, radio, magazines and newspapers. He is very widely and affectionately known in Chinese watch and clock circles by his nickname “Bethune of the Watch Industry,” after Norman Bethune, another widely known Canadian in China’s history. His own related website is amchpr.com, for those who’d wish to see his collection, his travel writing and photography.
In 2020, scholars at the Oxford University Press asked Ron to contribute a section for an upcoming scholarly text “A General History of Chronology” (edited by Anthony Turner, James Nye and Jonathan Betts), covering the entire history of world time-keeping. Ron collaborated on the section covering China’s development from 1900 to the present day. The book is to be released in 2021 and will also include Ron’s photography.
Thank you to Pat Helle for sharing your family’s journey. Caring for a loved one living with dementia is a difficult road to travel but with supports along the way it is not a journey travelled alone.
Ralph was born May 14, 1931. We were married July 18, 1963 and had seven children, two boys and five girls. We lost an infant son to jaundice and a boy (13) and a girl (10) to drowning accidents, so we were left with four girls. They have been a real blessing these last nine years for sure.
When Ralph was eighty, we had an open house birthday party for him with family, friends and neighbours. He was pretty good at that time, but soon after there was a day here and there that there was confusion – not much to begin with, but as time went by, what used to be a poor day was now a good day. Sometimes on a better day he would say, “There’s something wrong with my head. It doesn’t seem to be working right.”
By the time we reached the third year, the confusion was getting worse and by then he was suffering from sundowners. The girls by now were really noticing a change in their dad and I was so sure that I could manage. I realize now that I couldn’t have been more wrong.
In December 2014, we had a doctor appointment. They asked us to come back after Christmas, which we did. I was reading all the information on dementia I could get my hands on. In January 2015, the doctor said Stone Brook, a brand new ASLS (Care) home, would be a good fit for him.
On February 26, 2015, Ralph moved into Stone Brook.During the last six months he was home, I spent most of my time crying – so sure that I had failed him in every way, shape and form.By this time, he was very unsure of where he was or who we were. Shortly after he went to Stone Brook, he quit walking and feeding himself.
The day Ralph went to Stone Brook, there was a girl named Christine working. She was a mentor and trained new staff. On February 26, 2021, Ralph will have been at Stone Brook six years. The first five years have had ups and downs, with Ralph gradually going downhill over time. In January 2020, we lost our dear mentor Christine to cancer. Stone Brook was a very sad place at that time. We lost a real gem.
Then in March, COVID hit. What a nightmare. To this point, we have avoided any outbreaks; however, quarantine is really hard on seniors.
I am so happy that Ralph is close to home. I see him every day and give him his dinner.Our girls and their families saw him every chance they got up until COVID hit. I am so thankful to the Alzheimer’s Support Group, past and present Stone Brook Staff, Home Care, and the doctors. Ralph now spends most of his time sleeping, but still has the odd smile and may even use the odd swear word. He still is able to eat pretty well most days.
The morning I took Ralph to Stone Brook, I promised I would come visit and I have. One gets very attached to the other residents too. They may have forgotten who you are, but you know who they are. Every day in Stone Brook’s Poppy Lane is different, but our time there is very rewarding.
Christmas this year is like no other we have ever celebrated. Due to COVID restrictions many of our holiday traditions have been cancelled.
So what are we doing to make this Season Merry and Bright?
At Stone Brookwe put a call out to family, friends and community members to donate Christmas decorations to Deck the facility’s Halls.
At Care residences in Grande Prairie, the County of Grande Prairie and Peace River, trees were decorated with ornaments and pictures taken to send to loved ones.
And of course there were crafts!
Our Adopt A Friend campaign was a great success thanks to generous family, friends and community members. Each Individual and Resident that wanted to take part will have a special gift to open Christmas morning!
Thank you Olive Toews, Melanie’s mother, for sharing your family’s story.
To know Melanie, is to know a beautiful, cheerful, affectionate, placid yet determined young woman.
She has a smile for everyone and always knows when people like her. One of her favourite activities is going on a road trip and listening to the radio. What makes that road trip even better for Melanie is if it ends at the pool!
Melanie was diagnosed with Atypical Rett Syndrome, Scoliosis, Epilepsy, is visually impaired, has a gastrostomy tube for medication and requires 24/7 support.
A Family Decision
It wasn’t just Melanie’s parents and siblings that were involved in the decision to have Melanie move into a home with 24/7 support, so was the extended family.
In fact, it was one of the largest ‘meet and greets’ in the agency’s history! Melanie’s family had set the bar high for housing and care requirements. Olive says Care (ASLS at the time) met those requirements. She adds that, staff were kind, honest and caring.
What comforted and impressed Olive and the rest of Melanie’s family was Care’s knowledge of the rare Rett Syndrome. The organization was already supporting an Individual diagnosed with the syndrome – the then CEO’s daughter and current CEO’s sister.
But Melanie couldn’t move in – yet. The home, named Wilcox, was not accredited to house children. What took place next was months of paperwork. Melanie’s family had to apply to have the costs covered by Child and Family Services Authority and Care (ASLS) worked to get accredited so Melanie could move in.
During that time there were many respite visits to help Melanie and her family transition. Then in August of 2009, Melanie moved into her new home and was enrolled in school.
Stone Brook – A Place to Call Home
When Stone Brook opened in 2015, Melanie moved in and started the next chapter of her life.
The Designated Living Facility was spacious with more living and recreation space, specialized equipment as well as opportunities for socializing.
Over the years she has celebrated holidays, birthdays and special occasions at Stone Brook including hosting a baby shower for her nephew, with the help of Krista, the supervisor at the time.
Being Cared For
“Care has taken good care of Melanie. It was often hard to meet her needs at home as Melanie requires a high level of care.
Handing over the care of Melanie was a painful decision to make, but it helped that everyone was so caring. It was hard to let go, but letting go alleviated some of the stress we felt. Although we wish that we could still care for Melanie ourselves, we are confident that she is getting the care and attention she needs.”
– Olive Toews
Wilcox through the eyes of a Support Worker – Kaitlyn Armstrong
Wilcox is a residential care facility that has a wide range of differently abled Individuals that require 24 hour direct support. Staff work around the clock to make sure that each Individual’s daily needs are being met. We tend to make sure that the Cottage looks more like a home as it is where they reside.
The Wilcox Cottage in Stone Brook is a modern facility that is comforting with large bedrooms and with private bathrooms in each room. It has a common area with a fireplace. Next to that, you have a large dining area where Individuals gather for meals. The hallways are very wide which makes it very accommodating for individuals that require lifts and wheelchairs. The Cottage itself has good lighting and tall ceilings.
The best part about the Cottage is that it has a state-of-the art spa tub to accommodate each Individual. It adjusts to staff’s height as well so they are not continuously bending their back. Each Individual has a shower chair as well that can be used if preferred.
The specialised equipment fits each Individual to the best of its capabilities such as adjustable beds, customized wheelchairs and lifts built into bedrooms. Personal care and hygiene is different for each person. Some people may prefer baths, others may need to shower twice a day. Providing Individuals with the opportunity and support to continue this routine is an essential part of their daily living needs.
The Recreation Department offers a lot of activities for the Individuals. We recently had to do a lot of modifying due to COVID-19, but we are making the best out of it. We are only allowed to hold 15 people in the Rec room, which safely allows us to keep the proper amount of distance between everyone. It’s spacious enough for Individuals that have motorized wheelchairs. We do chair exercises, bingo, movie night, music night (amazing for high sensory Individuals).
The Care team is prepared to provide quality services to their best ability by providing practical support, emotional encouragement, and compassionate care. To the best of their ability, they help each Individual achieve an improved Quality of Life and a safe and secure living environment.
Developing and maintaining good relationships is central to improving outcomes for Individuals. Our role is to create an environment in which Individuals feel their needs and goals are being heard and understood. This requires integrity, honesty and skill. A good rapport creates a close and harmonious relationship with every Individual within Care. It allows us to understand the individual’s feelings and communicate well with them. It connects the staff and the Individuals and improves their care. We are caring and attentive, aware of their needs and try to accommodate to their best ability.
Each and every Individual within Care is valued. There are daily interactions between the staff and the Individuals resulting in a lot of fun!
It was a spook-takular Hallowee’n for Individuals Care supports. Costumes were worn, pumpkins carved and candy devoured.
Two Individuals in Peace River enjoyed designing the pictures for their jack-o-lanterns and making their creations glow from the light of a cellphone. A supper treat of pizza and wings was had and a dance party soon followed with breaks to take some seriously scarey pictures. The ghostly evening ended with a spine-tingling movie.
In the County of Grande Prairie, Individuals donned their spookiest costumes and enjoyed an afternoon of spooky crafts, ghoulish treats and bewitching BINGO.
Ghosts and goblins were seen in Stone Brook as well as residents celebrated with a spookalicious party. There were also a few Trick-or-Treaters that came looking for candy and residents on the balcony lowered treats in a bucket to the masked youngsters waiting below.
Do you remember learning Newton’s Third Law of Physics? For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.
Well, that theory can be loosely used to describe behaviour: for every behaviour, there is a reason or cause, though it may be very difficult to find.
That is where Care comes in. Care supports Individuals with Complex Needs and at times, complex behaviours of concern (behaviours that can be harmful to the Individual and others around that person).
So how exactly do we support? With a highly trained Behavioural Supports team. They are the finders of “the why.”
The team is led by Behavioural Specialist, Jen Drummond, who is responsible for the assessment of the function of behaviours – the why. Each behaviour has a function, a need that person has that is being met through an action. When that need is met, the behaviour stops.
What our Behavioural Supports team does is isolate the behaviour/s of concern and implement an applicable behaviour supports plan and/or strategies. That means reading over documentation and reports, looking for any clues, patterns or anything else that gives insight as to the what and the why. Our Behavioural Specialist then takes all that information and designs and implements a person-centred, quality positive behavioural plan/s.
What does that mean? That means a negative behaviour is being replaced with a positive or appropriately functional behaviour. That can take many forms; learning a new skill that eliminates the need for the behaviour, teaching coping skills, or expanding the Individual’s communication abilities.
But teaching a new skill is only part of the equation. Care’s frontline support staff play a HUGE role in the success or failure of a positive behavioural support plan. Support workers willing to learn new strategies and implement them in a compassionate, consistent manner are an Individual’s greatest means of support. Change will be slow and often rough but with a willing team behind them, it will happen!