Category: client

A Year in Review

A Year in Review

2016 was a great year for us at Community Home Support – Lanark County (CHSLC) and I couldn’t be happier with the accomplishments of our staff and volunteers.

I entered into this profession many years ago, seeing a need to help seniors and adults with disabilities maintain a level of independence and respect living at home.  I just wanted to be a part of it – to help those who made our community a place to live and grow memories.  In all of my years with CHSLC, I have worked with many wonderful people who share this same vision.  This year was no different.

This past year we saw a colleague and friend, Doris, retire after many years of working at various office locations across the county.  We also welcomed Pam and Susan to our family.  I was reminded just how much we have grown especially when staff member, Olivia, brought baby Liam, the newest and youngest member of our family to see us.

We continue to rise to the challenge of growing our services to serve more clients in our county.  We now produce our own frozen meals, improving upon the quality and quantity.  This has been met with applause and appreciation from our clients.  The increase in referrals from the region’s hospitals, provide us with further opportunities to help those wanting to remain in their home independently as long as possible.

We are grateful for the support of our local communities – Perth, Lanark, Smiths Falls, Carleton Place and Pakenham – and of course our many volunteers.

On this note, I would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year on behalf of the entire CHSLC family.

Mary Anne Nicholson,  Executive Director

Preserving Dignity in Aging Adults

Preserving Dignity in Aging Adults

Something that we at CHSLC have realized over the years is that older adults often don’t think of themselves as “old.” Even those who are technically senior citizens – even some in their 90s – still consider themselves competent adults. And why shouldn’t they? Age is just a number; what matters is how you feel.

Sometimes, though, older adults do require assistance and it can be difficult for them to acknowledge that. The aging process can lead to feelings of fear and loss of personal worth. We associate aging with a number of undesirable characteristics – confusion, dependence, forgetfulness. It’s no wonder seniors don’t want to be thought of as old.

There are things we can do as family members and caregivers of aging adults to preserve their dignity as they age. No one wants to be told how to live their life, and no one wants to be told that they need to accept help. But sometimes, just treating the elderly with respect and autonomy can help them see that accepting a little bit of help goes a long way to preserving their independence.

Listen to them. Really listen. The simple act of paying attention does wonders. Even if your loved one suffers from cognitive impairment, paying attention to the small details and offering compassion and patience will make their day.

Get to know them. Don’t assume your loved one needs help. Observe how they’re doing, what they’re capable of and what they’re having trouble with. This will help you figure out what form of assistance you should offer.

Don’t give advice unless it’s asked for. It’s easy to slip into a “protective” role when you care for someone else. You want what’s best for them. But the parent-child role reversal can be hard on aging parents, so accepting advice from a child – albeit an adult child – might not go over well. It’s best to let an outside person be the advisor. You can still encourage and offer support without offering advice.

Ask for their opinions. Include them in the conversation. Don’t talk about them as if they’re not there. Accept that you may have differences of opinions but discuss all sides and try to come to a decision together when possible.

Respect their right to make choices. By making choices we have some sense of control over our lives. Unless your loved one has severe cognitive impairment and can’t make their own choices, involve them in as many choices as possible. Even simple choices, like when to eat and what to wear, contribute to their feelings of independence.

Speak distinctly but don’t condescend. Some seniors don’t like to admit that they cannot hear or understand the conversation around them. Try to talk louder but in a gentle, matter-of-fact way, keeping sentences short and simple. But be careful not to speak to them like a child. Patronizing is a sure way to result in disagreement.

All of our services at Community Home Support Lanark County can contribute to the well-being and independence of aging loved ones. Take some time to visit us with your loved one to discuss how our services could be of value.

Gratitude For Our Amazing Volunteers

Gratitude For Our Amazing Volunteers

We are beyond grateful for our CHSLC volunteers. They make a world of difference in the lives of our clients. Time and time again we observe certain qualities in our volunteers – qualities that make them the stellar volunteers that that they are. Our volunteers show:

  • Generosity – a willingness to give their time to others
  • Understanding – because our clients’ lives are often very different from their own
  • Empathy – an ability to put themselves in someone else’s shoes and feel what they must feel
  • Compassion – to truly care about making someone else’s life better
  • Patience – because the process doesn’t always go as smoothly as it might
  • Dedication – to stick with the project and see it through

Thank you to our volunteers for all that you do! Now it’s time to brag a bit about what our volunteers have accomplished this year. From April 1, 2015 to March 31, 2016:

  • 407 volunteers served 2,460 clients while donating an incredible 68,134 hours of time!
  • Our Hospice/Palliative Care volunteers provided support to 194 clients in their homes, the hospital setting and at our Hospice Day program. This support and compassion was also extended to families facing the loss of loved ones via caregiver support and bereavement support programs.
  • Our Meals On Wheels volunteers delivered over 39,000 hot and frozen meals to more than 400 clients. For many seniors, the trusted Meals On Wheels volunteer who comes to their door with a warm smile is the only person they speak to or see all day.
  • Our Diner’s Club volunteers served over 5,000 meals and provided entertaining, insightful and fun programs to more than 400 clients.
  • Our Escorted Transportation volunteers drove nearly one million kilometres, ensuring that 794 clients got to their medical appointments and treatments on time, and helped them navigate through the hospital hallways.
  • Whether it is a short chat on the telephone or a visit at home, our Friendly Visiting/Security Reassurance volunteers provided more than 900 clients with a sense of security and friendship.
  • And let’s not forget all of our volunteers who helped with awareness events, musical events and fundraisers over the past year.

Once again, our volunteers have proven the difference they make in the lives of our clients, seniors, adults with physical disabilities, and persons who have been diagnosed with a life-limiting illness and/or palliative diagnosis. To all of our amazing volunteers who go above and beyond to help our clients, THANK YOU!!!

 Volunteer with us! We have a variety of programs and services and our volunteers are integral to their success. Whether it’s once a week or once a month, we need your help! Visit Volunteer with CHSLC for more information. We’ll work around your schedule to find a volunteer position that best suits your interests and skill set.

Featured photo: A small group of our dedicated volunteers in Pakenham.

A Client’s Story: Donna

A Client’s Story: Donna

Donna is a survivor and an inspiration to us all. She has been through much turmoil in her life – more than any one person should be subject to. In 1998, Donna was in a horrific car crash. In the weeks following, there were multiple moments when the hospital staff and her family thought she wouldn’t make it. Against all odds, her indomitable spirit pushed her through.

She was told she may never walk again, but she did. Not only could she walk, but she could sing, dance, act silly and even – laugh.  Her accident and recovery changed her not just physically, but gave her lightness of heart, leading her to surround herself with those people who would accept her for what she had always been; a loving, vivacious creature who would, from now on, only seek the gentle and pleasant side of life.

Years later, and the physical realities of Donna’s ordeal began catching up with her. She is back in a wheel chair, as mobility is not easy. Her husband Stephen has been an incredible support for her, but with her added burden of terminal cancer, Donna’s strength of spirit waned. She became a recluse. She felt she had nowhere to go and felt alone within herself.

Two years ago, Donna was introduced to the CHSLC Hospice Day Program. Here, she met people like herself, suffering life-threatening illness. These people – who have become like family to her – are always willing to share and listen. Similarly, she has met “some of the warmest, most caring counsellors” who go out of their way to help her.

Each week, Donna looks forward to sharing a meal with good friends and participating in the fun activities planned for them. She also takes advantage of CHSLC’s foot care services and is visited in her home by a hospice volunteer.

Donna spoke at the 2016 Hike for Hospice, where she rallied support for the program. “I could go on and on about the love and support we have all received – so let us give our community support team a great big thank you!” She went on to declare that, “Hospice matters. The end of life deserves as much beauty, care and respect as the beginning.” We couldn’t agree more.

 

Meet Our Volunteer: Wilma

Meet Our Volunteer: Wilma

Our beloved volunteers decide to help us for many reasons. Some volunteers even end up using our services themselves. When Wilma started to require CHSLC’s services for herself, she told us that her years as a volunteer made all the difference when accepting help for herself.

Wilma contacted us in 1999. Her husband had passed away and Wilma realized that she needed to fill her time. She also wanted to bring purpose and meaning back to her life. When Wilma’s mother-in-law suggested CHSLC Wilma jumped on board.

The rural Diner’s Club benefitted early on from Wilma’s dedication and lovely demeanour. Then, she volunteered as a transportation driver and Meals on Wheels dispatcher. Wilma arranged delivery for 45 meals one day!

Through her service, Wilma was able to make acquaintances with many people, but two clients made the most impact on her. Denise* and Wilma spent hours conversing about everything under the sun. Time seemed to fly by when they spent it together, talking. Having this relationship helped Wilma feel less alone and she felt accepted and needed. Her relationship with Denise meant the world to her.

One afternoon, Wilma spent time calling people to remind them about Diner’s Club and to encourage everyone to come. Her voice sounded so friendly on Bruce’s* voice mail that he decided to call her back. Wilma and Bruce had a great discussion and she thought his comments about her voice were funny as well as flattering.

Wilma has had her share of experience with medical surgeries, but 3 operations on her leg didn’t stop her from volunteering with us! She spent her time while laid up, calling clients to attend dinner.

CHSLC really is like a family. One morning, Wilma walked outside her home. She was just going out for a minute, so didn’t take the time to dress appropriately for the brisk winter weather. Two of our Transportation drivers arrived at her house a little earlier than normal to pick up Wilma for an appointment. When they arrived, she was on the ground and couldn’t get up. She had fallen and broke her leg.

Since her surgeries, Wilma has been receiving CHSLC’s services herself. She receives transportation to doctor’s appointments, Meals on Wheels deliveries and Foot Care. We love giving back to Wilma who has given so much to us and our organization!

In Wilma’s words, “This place is just wonderful. There are no words to explain how I feel about this place. There was nothing like this during my parents time.”

And, when Wilma talks about Suzanne at our Perth Office her face lights up. “Just give Suzanne a call. Find out more information. CHSLC is a ROCK!  I can phone to get information and help. I don’t know what I would do without it.”

The funny thing is, we feel the same about Wilma! She’s been a steady rock throughout the years and a valued volunteer we could always count on.

Thank you for everything you do, Wilma! It’s always a pleasure working with you.

 *Names have been changed. 

Helping Us, Helping You

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Connection. It’s the glue that holds our communities, friends and families together.

Have you ever moved to a new city or town and felt like you were living on a deserted island, far from civilization? You walk passed strangers on the street or buy your milk at the grocery store, but you feel alone. Sure, you might chat it up a bit with the cashier at the store, but the connection is lost somehow. 

A similar situation happens when we retire from work. Your routine changes, often drastically. As a member of the organization you work for, there is a common goal or cause that brings you and your coworkers together. When we lose that connection, we might also lose our sense of self-worth.

There are a million reasons why we lose a sense of connection with our environment and the people around us. The above are only two examples. Change is difficult and resisting it, either consciously or subconsciously, is a completely normal reaction. However, resisting change does not help you in the long run.

One way to break out of a resistance to change, is to engage in activities that allow you to use your talents and skill sets to serve others.

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” ~ Gandhi

Volunteering at an organization like CHSLC will help you…

  • Make new friends and contacts
  • Increases your social skills
  • Feel a sense of purpose and fulfillment
  • Increase your self-confidence
  • Provide you with career experience

Our volunteers are shining examples of people who love what they do!

They use their time and resources, whatever they have to give, to help our clients. In turn, while they might not be aware, they are also helping themselves. We notice it in a smile or a laugh, in their dependability and in their commitment. And, we’re thankful.

Meet Dan from Day Hospice

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Having something to look forward to each week helps Dan get through his days as a person living with Multiple Sclerosis. Each week he meets with the Day Hospice group to share stories, have a good meal and try new activities. Attending the program allows him to think about something other than his illness as well as connect with others. He’s always the first to crack a joke and bring our spirits up in the Perth office. He’s an inspiration to all of us and to his 15 year old daughter who (like all teenage daughters) keeps him on the edge of his seat!

Our kids teach us every day how to be better humans in this crazy world we live in. They show us compassion when we’re feeling less than lovable and they give us a reason to fight for our health and well-being. For Dan, his 15 year old daughter is his reason to keep looking up and staying positive regardless of the impact Multiple Sclerosis has on his life.

Once a week, Dan meets with other members of the Day Hospice group in Perth. He and his family moved to Perth from Smiths Falls specifically to partake in this program. He tried out a few meetings and knew right away that this would be helpful for him. Having a group to meet with once a week helps him let go of his worries for a few hours. He is able to talk to other people that experience the same frustrations with their health. Being surrounded by people who understand your struggle is important to your mental well-being.

During our interview, Dan kept cracking jokes about seeing himself for the first time in the mirror. About 6 years ago, Dan lost his vision due to the progression of Multiple Sclerosis. For 6 to 7 weeks, Dan was without sight. Imagine not being able to see your loved ones, their smile or the sad look in their eyes that tells you something is wrong. Losing your sight is a lonely experience and nothing can prepare you for the shock.

Then, out of the blue, Dan saw a flash of light. He turned to look in the mirror and the mirror was foggy just as if he had stepped out of a steaming shower. Over time, his vision became clearer and he is happy to be able to see his beautiful daughter again.

Dan told us time and again that the Day Hospice group has been a huge help to him. It gives him a much needed break from thinking (and worrying) about his illness. As for us at CHSLC, we love to see him coming across the parking lot on his scooter!

If you or your loved one is thinking about attending Day Hospice, Dan has a few words for you… “Do it! Give yourself something to plan for.”

Meet Our Client: Frank

“You need the right tool for the job, otherwise you are handicapping yourself.” ~ Frank

DSC_0898As a mechanic for over 20 years, Frank knows how frustrating it is to work with subpar tools. The job in front of you seems impossible and overwhelming. On the flip side, investing in the right tools makes your job easier, increases your productivity and gets the job done right. You feel better about the work you do. This is a lesson Frank focused on when teaching his students in Montréal years ago.

For a person like Frank who lives with Multiple Sclerosis, the importance of maintaining his independence with the aid of the right tools is not lost. For Frank, his cane and the Hospice Day Program at CHSLC are two of the right tools for getting the job done right!

Just recently, Frank had a fall at home that left him on the floor for 24 hours. At the hospital he found out that he had the flu. As a person with MS, Frank knew that the flu symptoms are exaggerated due to the illness. However, the hospital staff were so focused on the MS disclosure that they didn’t take into consideration Frank’s mobility on a regular basis, when he doesn’t have the flu. They just couldn’t seem to get past the MS diagnosis. Frank felt like he wasn’t being listened to and felt like he was just another number in the health care system — he didn’t feel like an individual.

As a result, the medical staff insisted that he use a walker instead of his usual cane that served him well for so long. The isolated flu incident also meant he lost his driver’s license for 6 months, even though he had never had an issue before.

“Slowly losing my identity as a person.” That’s how Frank felt about his experience as a person with a disability within the health care system.

We are completely aware that the health care system is only equipped to handle so much. That’s why we have programs like our Hospice Day Program at CHSLC. We’re working to bridge the gap between standard medical care and individual attention by giving ongoing support to our clients. As a participant in the Hospice Day Program, Frank has been to many social activities, eaten meals with friends, listened to a variety of guest speakers and more. He told us that he loves the funny antics of the group and appreciates the ability to catch up with like-minded people.

The right tool for the job — CHSLC’s Hospice Day Program helps Frank feel better about himself and gives him the confidence to keep trying new things. During our interview he told us that he had shaved that morning. An act that may be taken for granted, but for someone with MS, leaning over the sink to look in the mirror or bend over to dip the razor under running water is very difficult. 

When Frank first came to CHSLC, he told us that he tried out a few support groups, but none of them seemed to be the right fit for him. We’re glad he gave us a try and especially thankful that he stayed. It’s always a pleasure to see him walking around the halls and see his smiling face!

Life is short.

Life is far too short. Nancy and I were reminded of that when we attended the wake of a long time client, Lois.

A self-aware woman, Lois would refer to herself as crotchety. She and her family had a great sense of humour about it too. We met Lois’ son Arnold at her wake and he thanked us for the services we provided his mom.

Arnold revealed that he and the rest of his family couldn’t get over the changes they saw in Lois’ demeanour once she accepted the CHSLC services. She first started receiving meals through our Meals on Wheels program 10 years ago and she wasn’t a happy camper. She would be the first to let us know if the meal was late, the salad not crisp enough or the soup wasn’t hot. At times it seemed there was no pleasing her. At this time, Lois was pretty independent. She had her own car and was an active member at the Legion.

Then, she found out she couldn’t drive – first her car, then her scooter. Lois became isolated. Her family tried to get her out for activities, but she refused.

Lois’ independence was taken away. All the years she spent as an independent person – simply driving to the store to get milk or socialize with friends, gone.

Nancy met with Lois to see if there was another CHSLC service that could benefit her. In her back pocket, Nancy had the idea to invite Lois to Thursday Diner’s Club. This weekly luncheon has been operating for over 25 years and it fosters socialization in people who might otherwise feel alone without their independence. Lois was a regular immediately! She was even able to attend our monthly dinner at Eastons Corners.

Over time, Lois started using our Home Help service. One of our valued Home Help workers, Joyce Kennedy, helped her with household chores and weekly shopping. Arnold said that one time he walked into Lois’ house to find her and Joyce hanging out on the couch chatting. Lois told her son that she had met a soul mate.

Lois’ health continued to decline. She had to move into a nursing home and she was not happy about it. However, the people she met through CHSLC helped her adjust to her new life. Kay (a luncheon volunteer), Dayl (a luncheon participant) and Joyce continued to visit Lois in her new home. Lois also received regular phone calls from other friends she met at the luncheon who weren’t able to meet her in person.

As a team, we did the best we could to provide care and companionship for Lois throughout her last years, months, days with us. Her family thanked us profusely for providing our services.

We are grateful for the opportunity to have met and experienced life with Lois. Knowing that we made a difference in her life means the world to us. Rest in peace Lois. Lois Irene Gunn