Tag: caring

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.

Diner’s Club Volunteers: Why They Do It

Diner’s Club Volunteers: Why They Do It

What’s not to love about our Diner’s Club? Clients enjoy the delicious meals – tasty soups, hearty sandwiches and yummy desserts. They also look forward to playing cards and socializing with friends – some old, some new, all a delight to catch up with each week. But it isn’t just our clients who love what Diner’s Club has to offer. It’s our volunteers too! Three of our Pakenham Diner’s Club volunteers explain why they love their roles as volunteers:

Mary Throughout her four years of involvement with the Diner’s Club, Mary has realized something vital. You just can’t overstate the importance of social interaction on people’s well being. “Humans are social creatures and, as you age, the social connection becomes very important.”

Volunteering with the Diner’s Club gives Mary the opportunity to be a part of a meaningful social event while only having a couple of hours each month to volunteer. CHSLC makes it easy for her and other volunteers who want to give their time to help out in a way that suits their time availability.

Mary acknowledges that many of the Diner’s Club participants used to be volunteers and now continue to come for the lunch and social interaction. “It’s the greatest program I know for positive effect on the community. I will keep coming long after I am no longer able to volunteer.”

Diane – As one of six siblings in her family, Diane is involved in caring for her mother who has Alzheimer’s. She finds that bringing her mom to these events keeps her mom’s mind sharp.

Diane and her mom love the food but really value the social connection. Her mom is a terrific card player (just ask any of the other participants) and Diane is happy that she can bring her mom to a place each week that gets them both involved and keeps their minds active. “This club helps my mom with her memory. There can be a day when her memory is not so good, but then she comes here and remembers everyone and every hand of cards.”

Diane is happy to volunteer with a program that acts as a helpful boost to its participants’ health and well-being.

Helen – For the past five years, Helen has been volunteering with the Diner’s Club once every six weeks. She is able to volunteer in a way that fits her lifestyle and allows her to pay it forward. Paying it forward is a motto that Helen lives by and she feels that more people could benefit from this life philosophy.

By paying it forward, Helen herself is also benefiting.  She loves the social connection and is able to be involved with a great group of people. She feels like a valued member of a special community.

Thank you to all of our incredible volunteers who are so willing to give their time to help others. We couldn’t do what we do without you!

Diner Club Volunteers
From right to left: Helen, Mary, Myrna, Doreen and Diane

Learn more about volunteer opportunities, by visiting our website and reading more about volunteering through our other articles.

Making a Difference in the Community

Making a Difference in the Community

Ryan is proud to be following in the footsteps of his Great-Uncle George who delivered Meals on Wheels for 30 years. He loves helping people and enjoys listening to some fun tunes while he’s on the road.

Ryan has a developmental disability but Lanark County Support Services (LCSS) offers programs to him and others like him so they can develop skills that contribute to them living independently.

LCSS offers person-directed supports and services for individuals with developmental disabilities, with an emphasis on self-determination, achievement of personal goals/outcomes, building relationships and community connection.

Through cooperation with Community Home Support Lanark County (CHSLC), which provides services and supports including Meals on Wheels for seniors and adults with physical disabilities, Ryan is able to volunteer alongside his helper Lianna. Together, they deliver nutritious meals to local seniors who look forward to receiving a hearty meal and a warm smile from the pair.

By helping deliver Meals on Wheels, Ryan is improving on skills like reading and is learning the importance of being punctual and kind. He is also developing a great work ethic, which will go a long way to allowing him to live independently.

During one delivery, Ryan and Lianna had to call 911 to help a CHSLC client who was in distress. If not for their quick thinking and actions, that situation might not have had a good ending.

LCSS has a variety of programs, such as: Transition Support Services to ease the transition of young adults from school to the community; Life Skills Experience and Supports; Activity Centres for seniors; Community Engagement Networking and Social Experience; Person-directed Apartment Living; and Innovative House Planning and Supports.

Ryan participates in Life Skills Experiences and Supports, which provides individuals with opportunities to become more independent in their homes, in their communities and at work through individualized planning and instruction/job coaching. Independence is fostered through a functional creative approach. Examples include: cooking; budgeting; banking; personal grooming; organizational skills; literacy skills; cleaning/upkeep of personal home environments; recreational/social experiences; and travel.

LCSS and CHSLC are two exceptional, community-focused organizations which only become stronger when they work together to make a difference in the lives of people who need assistance. To instill altruistic values in individuals with developmental disabilities, and also give them the opportunity to make a difference in their community, is a wonderful thing.

Meet Our Volunteer: Doreen

Meet Our Volunteer: Doreen

Doreen’s delicious soups are warm and comforting – just like her personality. For 15 years, this former professional cook has been creating soup masterpieces for CHSLC’s Pakenham Diner’s Club. She became involved in the Diner’s Club through her daughter Myrna, a client services assistant for CHSLC. Doreen’s and Myrna’s roles have expanded over the years – in fact most diners will agree that they are the heart and soul of the Diner’s Club.

Doreen rarely needs a recipe, even though she seldom makes the same soup twice. Her repertoire is expansive and her soups never fail to delight the taste buds of the diners. While each soup is tremendous, a fan favourite is her homemade tomato soups.

Each week Doreen sets the menu and prepares some of the meal ahead of time at home. She then loads the ingredients into two Little Red Riding Hood-style baskets and makes her way to Five Arches, where Diner’s Club takes place. Once there, other volunteers such as Helen, Mary and Diane, will help to prepare the sandwiches and bring the desserts, but the soup is always Doreen’s baby.

With Doreen’s many years of experience working in a kitchen and several years preparing the meals for Diner’s Club, the weekly event goes off without a hitch – usually. She and some other volunteers recall a cooking fiasco where it was assumed the eggs brought in for egg salad sandwiches had already been cooked. They hadn’t. While stressful at the time, the ladies laugh about it now.

Doreen’s time spent volunteering isn’t just about preparing great food. It’s also about connecting with the clients. She loves hearing the stories and laughter coming from diners as they’re playing cards before lunch. And after the food is prepared she always heads out to the dining room to visit and chat.

For Doreen and the other Diner’s Club volunteers, their involvement in this weekly event is about being grateful for their own health and well-being and paying it forward. As passionate as Doreen is about cooking, she feels the same passion for helping others.  Thank you Doreen for all that you do and the other volunteers as well!

(Featured in picture: Myrna on the left, Doreen on the right)

Visit our website to learn more about our services or contact us anytime.

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. 

Why We Hike for Hospice

Why We Hike for Hospice

Caring for a loved one with a life limiting illness is difficult, regardless of how trained you are for the job or how much patience you’ve acquired over the years. It’s emotionally and physically draining, yet you’re committed to helping your loved one feel as healthy and comfortable as possible. That’s where Community Home Support Lanark County’s hospice  palliative care services and volunteers can help.

Talk to Us

Our hospice palliative care services and volunteers are available to you. Talking with someone other than your loved one or your family and friends can be helpful. We can give you an experienced, unbiased viewpoint and we won’t judge you for any feelings of resentment.

Visiting volunteers take the time to spend social time with clients and give their caregivers a break. The day hospice program is a safe and comfortable space where clients of all ages come to share similar experiences and connect. A meal and a game of cards or a sympathetic ear with a friend who doesn’t need an explanation can be a welcome relief.

Trained Volunteers

A long-time hospice palliative care volunteer with us has taken courses and training for nearly 40 years! She happened across the palliative care path unexpectedly when she discovered a friend was suffering in distress with a life-limiting illness and had no one to help. Many of our volunteers have stories like this. Many stumbled into the field of care through helping a friend or family member and then continued on volunteering, knowing their experience and training will help others.

As for our 40 year trained veteran… She began her journey by helping her friend and then continued on to become a palliative care nurse, a bereavement counsellor, a home visitor, a hospice professional and now, in retirement, a hospice volunteer! We’re grateful to work with such a knowledgable and caring volunteer.

Canada Proud

Forty years ago, the first comprehensive palliative care program in the international community was initiated at McGill University’s Royal Victoria Hospital. The world looked to Canada as an innovator, not only as a pioneer. Courses were offered, and palliative care units were established.

Perth and Smiths Falls once had a dedicated and funded palliative team, but, as budgets were frozen and staff left, the services disappeared. Now, thanks to community involvement, palliative care is available in both the Perth and Smiths Falls hospital campuses and volunteer services of hospice palliative care have developed. CHSLC provides day hospice, bereavement support, a resource centre as well as a volunteer visiting service. The South East Local Health Integration Network provides approximately 50% funding the other 50% required to operate the services comes from donations and fundraising events.

That’s why we hold events like our annual Hike for Hospice coming May 1st. If you’re interested in participating or donating to the event through a monetary donation or volunteer services, contact us at (613) 267-6400 or visit our Hike for Hospice page.

In Memoriam: Remembering John Carlile


Working at CHSLC means you are part of a family and when you lose a coworker, the loss is felt deeply. We were blessed to work with John Carlile.

John was knowledgable, personable and witty. He came to our office with a background in business management and conflict resolution. He had a kind heart.

John helped many clients with government paperwork, made home visits, organized outings for our clients and even made soup on occasion for Tuesday lunches.

Over time, John helped to coordinate service at the Pakenham, Carleton Place and Lanark offices. John was a great resource and his interests were varied; from food, art and gardening to politics.

This January and for many Januarys to come, we will miss John’s smile and dry wit. We’ll miss his jokes and his kind-hearted work ethic. Thank you John, for the time we were able to spend with you. Thank you for your dedication to bettering our clients’ lives and for the many laughs along the way.

Caring for the Caregiver: Goal Setting

Caring for the Caregiver: Goal Setting

Realistic and attainable. These are the key factors for making your resolutions a reality as a caregiver. 

It’s resolution setting time. People everywhere are flocking to fitness centres and filling their dinner plates with kale and the latest superfood, as we speak. If this is your first year setting resolutions and defining goals while being a caregiver, you may feel overwhelmed at first. You overindulged in December, ran yourself ragged and now you want to right that wrong. But, you have a patient and loved one to think about.

How do you set and meet your goals when you don’t have time to take a shower or you’re overwhelmed with grief?

The good news… The holidays are a unique time of year. Not every month is going to look like December. There is plenty of good that comes with the holidays. You may have received extra help from loved ones or had meals delivered by generous friends and family. You may have enjoyed the simplicity of basking in the company of your family.

The downside is, whether it’s helpful or challenging, the extra company and change in routine can cause added stress. It may be eustress (good stress) or distress (bad stress). Either type of stress can cause disruptions in your sleep patterns and affect your immune system as well as for the person you are caring for. When your fuel tank is already low, the last thing you need to do is add more pressure and expectations for yourself. Resolutions and goal setting take you out of the moment and can cause anxiety when we think about the future.

The key to diminish your stress levels is to make resolutions that are attainable and realistic.

As a caregiver, you are seeing the world in a completely new light and your resolutions are going to be quite different than last year. Last year, you resolved to go to the gym for an hour, 5 days a week. This year, your goal to get fit might involve a 10-30 minute walk while a health care professional, volunteer, friend or family member provides you with a caregiving break.

Here are some ideas for goals that are attainable and realistic for caregivers. It takes 21 days to form a habit, so set one goal per month.

  • Ask for an extra 30 minutes or 1 hour of help a week from a family member or friend.
  • Attend a caregiver’s support meeting at our Perth or Smiths Falls locations.
  • Contact CHSLC to find a program that is suitable for your loved one.
  • Schedule 10 minutes a day to meditate and/or journal.
  • Make a doctor’s appointment for a regular check-up.
  • Add more vegetables to your diet.
  • Drink 8-10 glasses of water a day.
  • Reduce the amount of screen time you have in a day via phone, TV, laptop, etc.
  • Call a supportive friend that you can vent to when you’re struggling.
  • Sit or stand outside in the sun for 10-15 minutes a day.

There’s no need to abandon your personal health and wellness goals just because you have a new role as a caregiver. And, there’s no need to beat yourself up if you fall off the wagon. Your courage to set a goal at this time in your life is admirable. You can do this.