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Author Archives: CareHelps

Caring for Ralph – A Care Journey

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.

If you or someone you love is experiencing the onset of Dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease please reach out to your family doctor for help. More information and available supports can be found at the Alzheimer Society of Alberta and Northwest Territories, Alberta Health Services, and MyHealth.Alberta.ca.

Memorable Moments: Getting ready for Christmas!

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 Brook we 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!

Happy Holidays everyone!

Caring for Melanie – A Care Journey

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!

Memorable Moment: A ScareY Halloween

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.

What’s in a Behaviour?

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! 

What’s New in HR?

May was a quieter month for Care but still busy!

There were two full-time Health Care Aides hired at Stone Brook and one Support Worker hired in the Peace River region.

We also welcomed the new Manager at Stonebrook, Heidi French, to Team Care.

Let’s get to know Heidi:

Heidi is originally from Calgary, is married and will be celebrating their 35th wedding anniversary in August. She is a mother of two, grandmother of two and has a chihuahua that has a torn ligament right now.

I am so excited to be part of the Care Team here at Stone Brook! I came into healthcare as a nurse, wanting to care for people. Then I moved  into healthcare management wanting to be able to make a difference. 

Especially during this time of COVID-19, I see each and everyone of us as being vital to making a difference in someone’s life. Whether it is smiling at the clerk at the gas station, or thanking the shelf-stocker for coming to work today, every step we take is making a difference. 

The residents and staff here have already started making a difference in my life, and I look forward to getting to know everyone better.

What is one of your fondest memories so far? When one of the residents
that I was introduced to on my second day informed me that I would regret
coming here! 🙂

What do you tell yourself when it has been a stressful day? How do you self-care?
Today is just one day. Tomorrow will be better. I go home and connect with
my family to remember the important things in life.

What are you most surprised about working at Stone Brook? How welcoming everyone has been.

What would you say to the founding parents if they were here right now?
Great Job and thank you!

What do you do in your spare time? Try to learn new things (learning
Calligraphy right now) and reading.

If you could not work here, where would you work? As a food taster in a
fancy restaurant where I would get paid to try all the new recipes.

If you could have lunch with anyone anywhere who and where would that be and why? All of my family at my house celebrating being together post COVID.

Welcome to the team Heidi!

Memorable Moment: Food for Thought

This Memorable Moment comes to us from Peace River where an Individual Care supports continues to build their independence skills.

One way they are doing that is by preparing meals for themselves as well as their housemates on their assigned cooking/baking day. Not only do they prepare the meal, they add their artistic flare when carefully placing the vegetables on each plate.

The meals are enjoyed by all, both visually and physically and the Individual looks forward to putting together healthy meals every week.

What’s New in HR?

April was another busy month for Care as we welcomed 12 new team members!

Here is the breakdown:

Full-time in Grimshaw & Peace River – 4

Casual in Grimshaw & Peace River – 1

Full-time in Grande Prairie and Wembley – 2

Full-time at Stone Brook – 4

Support Services – 1

A congratulations goes out to Brittany Mason who has been promoted to Team Lead in Grimshaw! Let’s get to know Brittany.

Brittany is from Barrie, Ontario, is the second oldest of seven children and the proud cat mom to two cats Mila and Morocco.

Why did you apply? 

I applied to Care because I was looking to work in a community based position and I saw a great opportunity to work everyday with the Individuals in our residences. I was originally hired as a Residence Coordinator for PR.

Why do you stay?

I stay because I am happy with what I do and because everyday is a new chance to learn something and grow.

Why did you want to take on the challenge?

It was always my goal to work in the community helping people to reach their goals, whether that be in a facility, or residential setting, so when I was hired, the challenge was what I had been waiting for. I worked in other positions in the community, but after completing college I wanted to get into my career, so this company gave me that opportunity.

What is one of your fondest memories so far?

I have so many fond memories! Every day the Individuals in Care put a smile on my face, whether it be from a morning greeting, a smile throughout the day, a conversation, seeing individuals working towards their goals and happy, it is all moments I look back on with a smile.

What do you tell yourself when it is a stressful day? 

When I have a stressful day, I try to remind myself it is just a day and I will go home and de-stress with a nice dinner, a walk along the river, maybe a good TV show to end the night and just wake up and start fresh the next day!

How has the company changed/evolved since you started?

I have not been here too long, just under a year, but in the past year we have had a name change from ASLS to Care Human Services which I really like, the name speaks for itself, We Care!

If you could have lunch with anyone anywhere who and where would that be and why?

Honestly, this may sound cliché but Mother Teresa. I really think that there is so much to learn from someone who gave up her own life to care for others and did it so tirelessly her entire life. The knowledge, patience, understanding and compassion she had for the world astounds me. I would love to sit with her and just talk for a day and learn from her.

What is your hidden talent?

I can literally make the best meal with minimal ingredients last minute, just ask my family lol! I don’t even know how I do it. If at the last minute I run out of everything and did not go to the store – no problem, I got this!

Memorable Moment: Celebrating Easter

This Memorable Moment(s) comes to us from Stone Brook.

Easter celebrations looked a little different this year as we could not share the holiday with family and friends but thanks to some CAREing employees, Easter was enjoyed at the facility.

There was still the traditional hunt for Easter eggs.

Thank you to a Team Care member and her family for decorating the eggs for Individuals to find! There were smiles a plenty when eggs were spotted hiding throughout the cottages.

Some residents took part in holiday baking and craft making as well.

We look forward to spending the holiday with friends and family next year!

What’s New in HR?

March came in like a lamb and left like a lion. COVID-19 arrived and Team Care set in motion practices to ensure everyone’s safety while maintaining the same excellent level of care we pride ourselves on. Thank you to all who continue to adjust to this new normal. 

We would like to welcome three new hires in the Grande Prairie area, two in Grimshaw/Peace River, one at Stone Brook and we also hired a part-time Scheduling Assistant and a casual in our Food Program. Welcome to the team everyone!

We also send our best wishes out to Lydia Levers as she begins a new chapter in her life.

This month we are saying thank you to a long-time Team Care member.  Cleofe Villaflor is a Support Worker and is celebrating her 10-year work anniversary this year! 

Why did I apply:

Finances aside, I stayed and will continue to stay, because to me, I found myself feeling at home and at peace with my working environment. Also because I see the value of the work we’re doing, and the change, no matter how little, that we are creating for the individuals we’re looking after.

What I do when I’m stressed:

I ask myself: For whom do we toil?

How do I practice self-care:

I just sleep, cook for my daughter or listen to folk and country songs and go for a month-long vacation to the Philippines.

What I would say to founding parents:

I would tell them that their vision has come to fruition and CONGRATULATIONS! I would also tell them not to stop improving and thinking of better ways to help and support our individuals.

PERSONAL:

Where I’m from:

I’m from a small town in the island-province of Catanduanes in the Philippines. I’m a single mom of a 23-year-old daughter, who now is pursuing an after-degree course in the medical field at the University of Alberta.

What I do on my spare time:

I read books and if I am feeling a bit under the weather, I would just ring my family back in the Philippines. We would chat until the wee hours. “Family time is always a good time.

If I could have lunch with anyone:

I would have lunch with my mom and dad, and my 2 brothers. They’re all gone. But I still would want to have lunch with them even in my dreams.

My hidden talent:

I can sing and play the guitar.

What people don’t know about me:

I have an accounting degree and a 2-year Masters in Business Administration.

My message:

Love as if there’s no tomorrow!

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