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Category Archives: Our Stories

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.

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.

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!

Memorable Moment: Princess for a (birth)Day

An Individual’s dream of becoming a princess came true on her birthday.

Earlier last month Team Care at Stone Brook came together to make this dream a reality. The recreation room was decorated in her favorite colors purple, pink and red; streamers, balloons, disco balls, flowers, and “Happy Birthday” Banners.

Staff that had grad dresses and princess attire became princesses themselves and Individuals attending the party also came dressed for the occasion.

The birthday girl was also wearing a beautiful tan gown decorated with rhinestones, donated to Stone Brook a few years ago.

When she entered the party that was attended by over a dozen people, she was handed a rose from each Team Care member.

Her favourite supper was prepared – hotdogs, different kinds of salads, chips and snacks and of course there was a birthday cake fit for a princess! 

Everyone had an awesome time and the birthday girl loved being a princess for her special day.

Memorable Moments: The Bad Dream Lottery

This Memorable Moment comes from an Individual Care has been supporting for a few years.

This Individual has a witty personality and often cracks a joke or two. One afternoon they were talking with their Support Worker about dreams, in particular bad ones.

The Individual said they had a nightmare. In it they had won a million dollars. Surprised, the Support Worker asked why that was a nightmare, isn’t winning a million dollars what people dream of?

The Individual replied, with a straight face, “it was a bad dream because I woke up and didn’t have a million dollars!”

Now you can’t argue with that logic! 

Care Sensory Experience Rooms

Care is embarking on a new adventure, creating a Sensory Experience Room. 

Care’s first Sensory Experience Room is located in Grimshaw at Stone Brook, a DSL facility, with the goal of opening it to the community in the future.

A sensory room is a therapeutic space that’s typically furnished with a variety of interactive equipment that provides the individual with an engaging and personalized sensory experience. From equipment that provides deep pressure, like the steam roller, to projected lights and sounds. Each person that enters the room chooses how they’d like to interact with that environment.

The benefits are significant for individuals with ASD and sensory processing difficulties and include: improved social interactions,  reduced perseveration (i.e., repetitive stereotypical movements), reduced somatosensory disturbances (i.e., frequent and repeated movements or rocking),  decreased mood disturbances (i.e., over-reactivity, lack of responsiveness), and greater ability to focus.

Similar benefits are proving valuable for those with memory disorders such as Alzheimer’s, offering a safe place to stimulate or relax the brain and explore.

Needless to say, we’re excited! Fingers crossed we’ll be able to bring a Care Sensory Experience Room to Grande Prairie next!

  • Thank you to Care’s Behaviour Specialist for contributing to the article

Memorable Moments: An Alligator

We are introducing a new feature as a way for the public to get a better understanding of what Care does and how we support Individuals with complex needs. Most of these Memorable Moments will be written in a way as to NOT identify the Individual(s) and support workers involved due to confidentiality.

This first Memorable Moment started as a regular interaction between an Individual and Support Worker.

The nonverbal Individual was looking out a window in their home when the SW asked what they saw/were looking at. “A rabbit? A bird?” After several guesses with no response, the SW thought of the most out of ordinary animal “An alligator?” The Individual turned to the SW in shock and perfectly repeated ”alligator”. Not only repeated the word, but said it in a strong loud voice, loud enough for fellow housemates and SWs to hear! 

Sometimes thinking out of the box is where you will find the greatest rewards. Truly a Memorable Moment we want to celebrate!