Tag Archives: dementia

Announcement of Executive Director

Care’s Board of Directors is pleased to welcome Nivin Markose as Care Human Services’ Executive Director. Nivin began working with Care in 2018 and he has taken on progressively more responsibility during his tenure, most recently being promoted to Residential and HR Program manager in spring 2022. Nivin has a diploma in Social Work and a Masters in Business Administration. Nivin also has a proven track record of accountability and takes great pride in Care as an organization and in the individual-centered way that we support our clients. In the Board’s communication with Nivin he has spoken highly of Care’s staff and indicated that he is part of a great team. We believe Nivin will make an exceptional leader who will empower current and future Care staff and clients to reach their full potential. As ever, Care remains committed to excellence in providing inclusive and diverse services in the Peace Region and to  foster the independence, well-being and inclusion of our clients.

The Board also wishes to thank Rilla Websdale for her many years of service to the organization and more recently for the stable, future-focused leadership that she provided during times of great uncertainty. Rilla has gone above and beyond in many ways and has made a difference in the lives of many staff and clients. The board wishes Rilla health and happiness as she embarks on her new path. –  Alanna Dickson, Care Board President

A message from Rilla

It is truly a privilege that I do not think many people realize it to be, to have the opportunity to both learn about and learn from the Individuals that Care has supported over its 53 years as a service provider.  I can say that it has never just been another job to me, and I appreciate the opportunity to reflect on how this organization has been a foundational part of my life, dating back to when my sister, Tricia, moved into the old Wilcox Residence in Grimshaw, 34 years ago.  I learned a tremendous amount about the disability sector and people with disabilities in our society  –  from my mother I learned how to be the strongest advocate possible for Tricia and others that cannot advocate for themselves, and from my father, the former CEO of Care and long-time volunteer, I learned about the sometimes disappointing realities and limitations of being a service provider but that our ultimate responsibility is to always be forward-thinking and embracing change for the betterment of the Individuals we serve  – important perspectives that have guided much of what I have done as the CEO of Care for the past eight years.   From Tricia and her roommates at Wilcox, and all the other Care-supported Individuals that I was lucky enough to volunteer with and work with over the years as a Support Worker, I learned the irrefutable value of every person’s contribution to community, that being ‘different’ is actually a good thing, and that always having a sense of humour in this work we do makes our jobs a little less like a ‘job’ and a whole lot more fun.  

I hope that everyone that works at Care, for any period of time, leaves the organization with a greater respect and appreciation for the people that we support.  Thank you for all your care and compassion for the Individuals we support, and I am excited for the continued growth and development of all the Care employees and Individuals over the next few years.  – Rilla Websdale

A message from Nivin

I am excited and honored to take on the Interim Executive Director position with Care and I want to thank everyone for the support that I have received in various capacities within the organization since 2018. Following in Rilla’s steps will not be easy, but with your input, participation, and support, we can be assured that Care Human Services has a bright future.

My set of education and professional experiences includes a number of courses in business administration and positions in the not-for-profit sector. With my Diploma in Social Work, Masters in Business Administration, Bachelors in Mathematics along with Project Management, coupled with six years of experience in the not-for-profit and disability sector, I have a strong foundation for me to be part of the learning of the organization. 

As a landed immigrant student from the southern part of India, over 10 years ago, I started my career on Canadian soil by making changes in individuals’ lives by providing support to people with disabilities and other social barriers in British Columbia.  In my career so far at Care Human Services, I started as a working supervisor and stepped up through Residential Supervisor, Operations Team Lead, and most recently the Residential Program and HR manager. As I always say, my favorite part of the job is seeing the happiness of each of our individuals we are supporting, and this allows me to go home each day with a sense of satisfaction. 

On a personal level: one of the most important parts of my life  is my family. Jerin and I are parents to two girls: 3 years old Nevaeh Elise and 3 months old Norah Marie. Over the past few years we have enjoyed the opportunity to explore the great outdoors of Alberta and British Columbia, and appreciate the natural beauty around us.  I also participate in the local cricket club in Grande Prairie.

I thank the Board of Directors at Care Human Services for this leadership opportunity, and I intend to invest my time and attention wholeheartedly to build even further on the successful team we have in place.   – Nivin Markose

Supporting Complex Needs

In our last blog post, Understanding Complex Needs, we shared with you what Complex Needs are and how we support Individuals. 

To recap – Complex Needs is a pairing of a developmental disability and/or a mental health challenge that requires specialized services and programming.

Now let’s look a bit closer at that support in action. Please note that the Individual we are referencing did not want their name and personal information shared so the information shared reflects their wishes.

Care has been supporting this Individual for just under two years and recently they celebrated 500 days of sobriety! This Individual and their team of Support Workers have worked hard and continue on the path of recovery each and every day. 

Why it works

The Individual is very determined to maintain their successes and wants to live a healthier lifestyle. Together they and their support staff, under the direction of Care’s Behavioural Support Team, have identified positive approaches and recognized recovery tools specific to them that will support this desire. One approach and tool that is being utilized is a whiteboard that marks their days of sobriety and then milestones are celebrated.

The team created care plans designed to support this Individual and their needs. Those plans are reviewed regularly to ensure their Quality of Life continues to improve as well as ensure their team has the skills required to support them.

This Individual also lives in a supportive environment in a rural area with controls in place that mitigate risk so they can better manage their sobriety. 

Staying Focused

This Individual likes to work and be a valued member of their community. You will often see them assisting with tasks around their home that don’t directly fall under their responsibility. Having a sense of purpose helps to keep them motivated and focused on their goals.

Understanding Complex Needs

Complex needs are just that – complex. 

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 
  • Spitting 
  • Pinching 
  • 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.




Hearing Distressing Voices

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. 

John Coristine – A Journey Through Care

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!

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.