Tuesday, 26 November 2013

The small miracle of not forgetting.

Where have all the poppies gone?

It's the end of November, and the poppies that were everywhere a few weeks ago have mostly disappeared. They've been replaced by holly and poinsettias. "To everything there is a season…"

I'm not sure.

We said "Lest we forget." We haven't forgotten, exactly, but life moves on. It's time to decorate and celebrate. The poppies have gone away for another year.

But the seniors haven't.

Those who served in the war, and those who stayed at home and prayed. Those who rolled bandages and knit socks. Those who grew food. The nurses, the mothers, the wives. Every one of them lived through unspeakable horrors with courage and even humour.

Today, they are our seniors. Many of them are quite elderly with multiple health problems. They need care. How do we honour them? How do we remember?

Let me first talk about what doesn't honour them. Putting them on long waiting lists to get into the more desireable homes where the care is less institutional. Encouraging them to live in the homes which have beds--the ones where conditions aren't home-like or personal.

Ordering their days based on the convenience of the staff. Getting up when they are told, eating when food is available (because it isn't available at any other time). Forcing them to wait to go to the bathroom, because they can't get there on their own. Sitting them in front of a television, because that's the entertainment of the day.

They deserve better.

I am so privileged to be working where we have the vision to be different. It is possible to respect person-hood, to be resident-centred and give resident-led care.

On November 25th, our second neighbourhood, Seaton Village, opened. Twenty seniors are delighted to call it home, and the staff serving them are excited to be a part of this new model. How does it work?

  • We place emphasis on resident's simple pleasures, where meaningful and spontaneous activities occur throughout the day.
  • Where residents are embraced holistically: Their past is honoured, their present is valued, and their future is validated.
  • Where Care Partners become students of the residents, learning not only their preferences in terms of personal care, but also their likes and dislikes, their personalities, their past, their talents, their skills, and their favourite things.
  • Where decisions about activities of the day are determined by the residents, both individually and as a group, and reflect their interests, needs and wishes.
  • Where work schedules of the staff and Care Partners are determined by those same interests, needs and wishes.
  • Where guests enter the resident's home by invitation of the resident.
  • Where the decisions about personal privacy are determined by the resident and personal space is respected by all.
  • Where conversations are with the resident, not about the resident.
  • Where residents' personal interests are being revived and where their passions and life experiences are being shared.
  • Where relationships are reciprocal and as a result where lives are being enriched in countless ways.
  • Where mealtime, bath time, bed time, interests and choice of engagement are determined by the resident.
  • Where health care is an invited support, not the determiner of the activities of the day.
It's not just about serving the resident who live at Christie Gardens, but about changing the culture of eldercare in Canada. It can be done. We are proving it. Others are watching.

On December 2, voting begins for the semi-finals of the Aviva Community Fund. We are competing to win $150,000. to build the next neighbourhood. Wychwood Park. The neighbourhood where I serve. 

It's easy for me to honour those who served me in both wars. I work with them every day. I know their names and I love them. 

Now you have an opportunity, too. By registering and voting every day at www.voteforchristiegardens.com from Dec. 2-11, you can be a part of honouring our seniors and changing the culture of eldercare. 

Lest we forget.

photo: http://md-arts.deviantart.com/art/Field-of-Poppies-IV-184896587

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