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Elizabeth has been working in the community as a Personal Support Worker (PSW) for 8 years with Carefor. Each day is new and different, filled with a variety of clients and situations making it an ideal job for her.

Being a PSW in the community positively impacts not only our clients but their families as well, no matter how much or how little family members are able to help out, PSWs’ are there. Because of PSWs’ Carefor clients are safer and stay longer at home, able to live fulfilling lives. “I’ve had client’s children come to me,” Elizabeth says “They’ll say, my mother, my father talks about how great everything has been, I’m so glad my mom and dad get to stay at home.”

By choosing a career as a Carefor PSW Elizabeth not only choose to help those in the community she chose the guidance and support from those she works with. “If I did not have the management, the supervisors, the coordinators behind me I would not have lasted in this,” says Elizabeth.

With a supportive staff behind you, as a PSW you have the opportunity to build your own schedule around your life. “If you have children you have to take to school in the morning… or you have an appointment in the middle of the day (you) don’t have to hand back clients,” Elizabeth says a process which in turn helps to eliminate burn in the long run.

There are so many enticing benefits to working as a PSW such as positive impacts, generous compensation, benefits and pension plans. Working as a PSW for Carefor you gain a support system that encourages you to grow in your role and for Elizabeth, that means “they are always looking out for your ongoing education and your knowledge as a PSW.”

Click here to see how Elizabeth makes an impact on the lives of her clients.

To learn more about working at Carefor, click here.

Carefor’s newly appointed Personal Support Worker Team Leaders are taking on a significant role at many of the 34 retirement homes Carefor provides service to in Ottawa and Eastern Counties. With a reduction in the number of people flowing in and out these homes, there has been an ongoing need for more leadership support.

Director of PSS Robin Meyers, IPAC Manager Diane Roscoe, and PSS Manager Jennifer Faucher collaborated with a team of nursing students in consultation with PSWs to bring this new role to life. PSW Team Leaders will complete a 6-hour online mentorship and leadership courses at Western University and 10-hour palliative care online training.

With the ongoing shortage of PSWs in Ontario, opportunities in career advancement are top of mind. For many PSWs at Carefor, our organization marks the beginning of their career path. Robin says this new role is an example of how Personal Support Workers can continue to grow and advance their career at Carefor. “It’s also an opportunity to recognize the contributions of Carefor PSWs,” she adds.

PSW Team Leaders are on-site support for their colleagues, providing training and maintaining a positive work culture, which values the retention of our staff. While this role is new, these role models have been informally supporting their respective teams for years now.

Earlier this month, Awa Lamiraux was of the first few long-time PSWs to be launched into this role. Over a decade ago, Awa joined Carefor and now, she can’t imagine doing anything else: “I’ve been to every corner of Ottawa and have taken care of some high-profile individuals to people living with little means,” she says. “The work we do every day is very important. We bring care to all who need it in the community.”

Awa can’t stress enough the importance of this formalized position to support staff: “We’re seeing lots of new faces at Carefor who need more support in their new role. My role is to continue supporting them the best I can and make sure they feel comfortable.”

The PSS Team is confident the new formalized training will go a long way in recognizing and retaining staff. “PSWs are the unsung heroes of the health care system despite playing a vital role in people’s health and wellbeing,” Robin says.

In the last year, Carefor Personal Support Workers (PSWs) have made more than 700,000 home visits, and for good reason. They help people who need assistance due to illness, aging or increasing dependencies.

Their services include bathing assistance, exercise, companionship, feeding assistance, grooming, light housekeeping, and more. This level of personal care helps to reduce caregiver burnout and keep clients safe and healthy in their homes.

Longtime Carefor PSW Heather Munn says home care PSWs are a lifeline for not only clients, but also their families who need that helping hand: “PSWs take some of the load off from family members who have a lot on their plate.”

However, during these uncertain times, their role has become more important than ever to keep people out of hospital and stay socially connected. They have become a calming presence, and for some, one of the few faces they will see during a time of social isolation.

While clients aren’t able to see the warm smiles behind their masks, they are still receiving compassionate care during a great time of need.

“Continuing to see our clients helps to keep a sense of regularity during this challenging time,” Heather explains. “Despite everything that has changed, they can rest assured that they are still getting their showers, being fed, changing their clothes, and maintaining some kind of social interaction.”

Heather says being able to have genuine conversations with her clients when some of them don’t have many opportunities to connect with the outside world has improved their mental health: “We’re all running out of TV shows to watch. I come in as a different face, we can have a conversations and they can ask me questions that concern them … They aren’t seeing their family or friends, but at least they see me, and that keeps them calm.”

While this is an undeniably difficult time for our clients, it is equally as challenging for some of our staff.

Heather lives with her family, and her mother and grandfather are at high risk for severe illness from COVID-19. This constant worry is not easy, but she is committed to serving her clients when they need it the most.

“Some clients are so kind that they’re offering lodging for me because they’ve heard on the news that some health care professionals are looking for a place to live during these uncertain times.”

Support during this COVID-19 pandemic will help protect our Carefor Heroes, their clients, and their own family. Give to our local frontline workers at carefor.ca/donate.

When you visit our 16-bed home designed for women living with dementia in Richmond Village, located just 20 minutes outside of Ottawa, take a close look at the apple tree. You’ll notice something different – underneath the beautiful large crown of the tree, grows another variety of apple.

“It’s quite metaphorical,” Richmond Care Home (RCH) Supervisor Amy England shares, noting that the tree was planted in memory of John and Lilian Bosco’s parents, who were instrumental in getting Richmond Care Home off the ground 20 years ago.

Carefor took over Richmond Care Home, with the couple’s blessing, just a few years after the home became operational. It was over these years that two types of apples began to form on the tree. “This home has really evolved over the years. Much like the big tree, Carefor represents the larger organization that protects and maintains the integrity of the smaller, more intimate care setting.”

Amy has been working at the home since its humble beginnings. In honour of its 20th anniversary, she proudly looks back on how much of an impact this home has had on hundreds of families.

“The most important thing to me is for us to maintain the home’s foundational philosophy of care. We are proud to share that Carefor has done this quite well. We’ve made it a priority to maintain the integrity and intimacy of being a small welcoming home for women living with early or moderate stages of dementia.”

Carefor is also proud to be providing such high-quality care and support during these challenging times. Although the COVID-19 pandemic has taken an emotional toll on loved ones, families are grateful to know their mothers continue to be in a safe and loving environment.

“I’d give Richmond Care Home five stars. They do everything they possibly can for their residents,” says Ken Black, whose mother Elsie has been a resident at the Home for over a year.

While the pandemic has impacted the way we operate our services, these types of smaller care settings are more vital to our community now, than ever before. We must continue to invest in these smaller types of care settings to meet the growing demand. Amy hopes to see this home continue to grow to serve even more families that are seeking a comfortable and safe haven for their moms: “An addition would be great.”

Team Carefor looks forward to supporting this next stage of growth in Richmond, much like the yearly growth of this unique apple tree.

Special thank you to all the staff at Richmond Care Home for keeping a smile on everyone’s face during this unprecedented time. 

Mealtimes at Carefor Richmond Care Home (RCH) have been extra special since trained chef Jessica Hamalainen joined the team last November.

Residents have been receiving more than just delicious home-cooked meals, but also another caring heart that has made a world of difference during these past challenging months. For a new deaf resident who was recently welcomed at the 16-bed retirement home for women living with dementia, Jessica went even further in ensuring she feels safe and happy.

“I thought it would be interesting to learn American Sign Language (ASL) so that I could communicate with the new resident,” Jessica shared, noting that she has self-learned 300 words and counting.

“Living with dementia is hard as it is, so to be also deaf, I can’t imagine how challenging this must be for her.”

With the help of an occasional ASL interpreter that trains all staff, Jessica has become the resident ASL communicator at RCH. Now, a special bond has formed between the deaf resident and Jessica.

“She’s able to express her feelings … I can see she’s happy.”

The switch from working in hospitality to healthcare hasn’t been easy, but Jessica describes her experiences at RCH as rewarding: “It has been a huge learning curve, not only in the sense of being in a new role of caring for people living with dementia, but also learning a new language to engage with one of our residents. [That said], I love going to work. I see the difference we make in their lives.”

“We all need some sort of assistance at some point in our lives. Supporting these services means supporting your own community, your own self,” she added.

Moving into a new home can be an emotional experience for both residents and their families, but our lovely Richmond Care Home staff are there to cater to the personalized needs of all our residents. Thank you for all you do each and every day!

The COVID-19 pandemic is unchartered territory for health care and non-health care workers alike. For Mike Wise, a recent RPN graduate, this unfamiliar territory simply means continuing to provide the best quality care to a vulnerable population at Carefor Mackay Residential Complex*.

Despite the fear and uncertainty at the beginning of this pandemic, staff rallied together to weather the storm and do everything in their power to keep residents safe, doing the best with the resources available.

Mike feels fortunate to work with such a devoted team: “We work for one goal; to do the very best we can for the residents.”

Mike shares how impressed he is with the ingenuity of the staff during the shutdown: “With families not being able to visit loved ones, the staff are doing even more to try to help the residents feel more at home. One staff member brought in her personal iPad and helped the residents to do video chats with their loved ones.”

Care Team Supervisor Jennifer St. Cyr couldn’t be more proud of all the great work her staff are doing during this pandemic. In particular, Mike’s passion as an RPN for Carefor is infectious, and he never ceases to bring a smile to all the residents’ faces.

“He is the gentle giant who always has a smile and is always going above and beyond,” Jennifer says.

Support Carefor Heroes like Mike who are working hard during these uncertain times by donating at carefor.ca/donate.

*Carefor Mackay Centre houses 80 beds and is one of two Carefor residential care homes in Pembroke-Renfrew County. It was previously known as the Grey Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, a congregation of Roman Catholic sisters founded in 1926 in Pembroke.

1 in 5 Canadians experience or struggle with mental health. With so much negativity surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s no surprise that more Canadians are reporting feeling anxious and depressed. Carefor staff know it’s up to them to make a difference, now more than ever.

Long-time Carefor PSW Dianne Villeneuve knows firsthand the impact mental health can have on her clients and their families overall well-being. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Dianne and other in-home care providers have been a steady support addressing physical needs through prevention of COVID-19, and emotional needs through comfort and compassion.

“Every day, you hear something in the news that you know might upset a client. It then becomes my mission to make their day better by talking or doing something together. Not only that, it’s so important to remind them the importance of wearing masks and sanitizing as there are so many differing opinions in the media. They are scared.”

She sometimes finds herself caring not only for her clients but also their spouse. She recalled a client’s wife she sees every week, and how she was missing the Adult Day Program at another care facility. It means the world to her husband that while Dianne is caring for him, Dianne sets her up with activities like music, a TV show, or other thing she enjoys while caring for him.

“Seeing them smile makes my day, and that in turn impacts my mental health. We do the best we can to help them. You have to be willing to open your heart, not just your mind and take those emotional steps needed to live a long happy life.”

Although some days are harder than others, Dianne feels that supporting her clients mental health is a part of her job: “It’s your profession. You’re in this job because you want to help people. In some ways, we’re lucky because we’re trained to handle situations like this better than others.”

That said, knowing when to reach out for more help is important, even for Carefor staff: “Sometimes people may find they need counselling, for others keeping physically active and finding that daily routine makes a big difference. In the end, you need to find what works for you, and keep going.”

Three decades of caring: Caroline Rooney and an award well-deservedIn November 1993, Caroline Rooney was hired at the newly built Nor-Dun Seniors Support Centre in Winchester. On November 16th, 2022, 29 years later she was awarded the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Award recognizing her contribution to the Dundas community through her work at Nor-Dun.

Her recognition was the result of a nomination by Lucy Garneau whose husband, Roger was supported by Caroline and her team for years at Nor-Dun. “These amazing programs lightened the load,” said Lucy whose husband received Meals on Wheels and attended the Adult Day Program at the centre, while Lucy also attended the centre herself making use of the Caregivers’ Support Group. “The Caregiver Program was a very welcoming program, and a much-needed release and fellowship of other Caregivers from the journey she was on.”

You can see that Caroline is both honoured and surprised at being recognized for something that she does every day: putting clients first. “I’m just doing the job I’m supposed to do and making sure Lucy is well looked after,” says Caroline. While being grateful for the recognition knowing that it means that the centres are doing what they were built for – to serve the seniors and people with disabilities in rural communities – she’s quick to recognize that the award is shared. “This award is on the wings of the team that I work with,” says Caroline, recognizing not only the team at Nor-Dun, but also her fellow senior support centre supervisors/team leaders and her manager, Dianne Kuipers. “It is the mentorship that Dianne has brought to our Teams”, praises Caroline.

Today, Nor-Dun offers a suite of programs and services which help rural seniors lead healthy and connected lives by giving them options for recreation, socialization and wellness. They make sure the clients are cared for, even if it’s as simple as a check in. This was the intent from the beginning when Nor-Dun and Carefor’s four other senior support centres in Eastern Counties were born out of a partnership between Carefor (then the Victorian Order of Nurses), The Ministry of Health, Long Term Care Division, the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry, the Ontario Housing Corporation & the local Villages of the prospective centres, as they were then referred.

When Caroline started, she wasn’t even sure what job she was hired for saying it was a combination of administration, janitorial and other tasks that needed getting done around the centre. Then Nor-Dun only offered congregate dining and Meals on Wheels but its potential over the decades has been realized with programs and services being added based on community need and in consultation with clients, who take such interest in these centres that they see themselves as part of them. “The centres were ahead of their time when they were built,” Caroline remembers.

Over the past three decades there have been changes to Nor-Dun such as expanding to the lower floor with the help of the Winchester Legion allowing for more programs to be offered. Over time, Caroline pursued her education and moved to Program Coordinator and eventually to Supervisor. Throughout her time at Nor-Dun her philosophy has remained constant: “clients come first.”

Nearing retirement she looks back over her years at Nor-Dun and while some challenges have stood out such as the ice storm of 1998 and more recently the COVID-19 pandemic where almost all programs were suspended, above all she remembers the gratitude of the clients and families she serves. “Families let you know how important you are to them.”

Working with Winchester’s elderly community has been a blessing for Caroline as she has developed long and lasting friendships with many clients; however, as is the case with this type of work, it can be hard when a senior who has visited the centre for decades stops coming. They have all shared their lives together in what may appear to be the simplest of ways: having tea, delivering a meal, listening to a story. Each act may seem small, but Caroline knows everything her and her team do means so much more. That it’s a friend, someone to listen and to care. And for some people that means the world.

This is what Carefor’s senior support centres offer, but more importantly this is what people like Caroline Rooney, her staff and all the staff at Carefor’s seniors support centres provide to people in their communities.

We are grateful to Caroline for her caring and for representing Carefor in such an incredible way.

It seems that COVID-19 is all anyone is thinking about these days, and it makes sense. It’s a global threat that has been brought to the local level like nothing we’ve ever seen. Not only has it affected every aspect of our lives, it has affected our sense of safety.

Each of us brings our own reality to COVID-19, our own age, medical history, living circumstances. Many of the people that Carefor supports are among the most vulnerable to it. These are our elderly neighbours, who often live alone and have underlying health conditions. They often cannot leave their homes to receive required medical care, which is why they need visiting nurses like Jovie Velasco.

By treating people in their homes, Jovie and her fellow Carefor nurses are keeping our seniors out of the hospital. She will be the first to tell you that we provide more than just health care, especially in times like this. Our team of nurses offer social connection and comfort to people struggling with social isolation and feelings of uncertainty.

“We aim to give our patients the best care and some sort of reassurance that their essential health care needs are being met during this challenging time,” she says.

Carefor Nursing Manager Sean Sudbrink stresses that community health care delivery has never been more important than now: “Our staff are able to safely meet the care needs of our community members in the safety of their homes during a time of fear and isolation. In many cases our nurses’ caring approach is the only real contact many have with the outside world.”

That said, it’s thanks to experienced and educated nurses like Jovie who are able to adapt and deliver high-quality health care services. Knowing that advanced wound care is required to treat nearly 60% of Carefor’s nursing clientele, Jovie was inspired to continue her education in this area to better meet the needs of our community.

Jovie and her daughter. Thanks to Carefor’s generous donors, Jovie was able to get the support she needed to fund her yearlong NSWOCC course. “It took away my financial worries while I was raising my young daughter.”

After completing the competitive program, Jovie says she noticed a difference in the quality of care she was able to give to clients: “I can give more to my patients and also provide support to other nurses.”

“Sending nurses to improve their education has helped us improve quality care and elevate wound care, which means it helps us heal wounds faster,” she adds. “It’s amazing that donors have given us the opportunity to further our education and help us continue to deliver exceptional quality of care.”

Sean echoes this statement: “The best means we have to [deliver the highest quality of care to our clients] is through continued staff education opportunities on the most up to date and best practice guidelines.  This however comes with a significant cost, which we are able to offset with bursary funds through generous contributions.”

Thank you to our donors for continuing to support our community nurses. We are grateful for these donations as we know continuous learning and advancement in specialized areas of nursing helps us deliver exceptional care. Your continued contributions help us prepare for the next health challenge.

As Cornwall and the surrounding area continue to adapt to social distancing, many seniors do not feel safe leaving their homes and as a result become isolated.

The United Way/ Centraide of Stormont, Dundas, and Glengarry along with members of the Regional Emergency Response Council were awarded funds through The New Horizons for Seniors Program to provide immediate essential services to seniors directly impacted by COVID-19.

With the newly attained funds, the S.D.& G. community took action. The Regional Emergency Response Council was established and co-led by the Social Development Council of SDG, Cornwall and Akwesasne and The United Way of SDG. A number of local agencies and non-profits including but not limited to Carefor, the Seaway Valley Community Health Centre, the City of Cornwall, the Optimist Club and 2-1-1, representing different groups of people and services within the community worked together to help bring food security to seniors within S. D. & G. The goal: prepare and deliver up to 1500 food hampers to people in need.

From May 14-15, over 500 food hampers were delivered by 70 staff and volunteers to Carefor clients, both in Cornwall and the surrounding counties. The Regional Emergency Response Council continued delivering food hampers in the days to follow.

Volunteers organizing Food Hampers for delivery.

Dianne Kuipers, the Manager of Community Support Services with Carefor led the charge of staff and volunteers stepping up to help ensure food security for many seniors who already access services through Carefor Eastern Counties. “It was all about serving our community and helping to counteract some of the food insecurities that have been prevalent during our pandemic.”

With the help of Edwin Duncan, owner operator of JED Express transport out of South Mountain and his son, Eric Duncan, MP of Stormont, Dundas and South Glengarry, the team loaded up a 53 ft. transport trailer with over 310 food hampers, and travelled from Cornwall to Lancaster, Alexandria, Finch, Ingleside, and Winchester. At each stop, volunteers were waiting to load their vehicles to deliver the food hampers directly to seniors and other eligible recipients within each township. “It was a rewarding day. This is a tough time for a lot of people including our seniors and it’s wonderful Carefor, the team and all the volunteers stepped up to make a difference,” says Eric.

Reflecting on the deliveries made within the counties, Dianne felt “It was a beautiful example of community. It was a beautiful example of neighbours helping neighbours, and that’s what these centres are about, and that’s what this initiative is about.” In a few days of planning the Regional Emergency Response Council’s team was able to procure food, package the food hampers, recruit volunteers, identify people in need of food and ultimately make the final deliveries.

On May 15, the team delivered the remaining 200 food hampers to Carefor clients within the Cornwall area.

With the hopes this initiative would carry-on, Dianne along with the team have since received a number referrals after the deliveries were made. “We expected that in the days to follow we’d be getting more referrals and more inquiries about the food boxes.”

“Nothing happens without a team. Carefor has an amazing team of people.”

Volunteers helping to make the initiative come to life included Carefor Supervisors, Team Leaders, staff and volunteers, the local MP, municipal leaders, and neighbours of the centres. Dianne shared “My heart is full. I can’t tell you how grateful I am for their generosity of time and in their engagement in this initiative. It means more to me and I’m sure more to many folks than we can ever express.”

If you are a senior and need help accessing food during this crisis, please call 2-1-1 to connect with available services including food hampers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Interested in learning more about the services offered by Carefor Eastern Counties? Click here to learn more.