How Carveth Care Centre is building on residents’ strengths to enhance quality of life


For Gord Palmer, some memories never fade.

The former head of public utilities in Gananoque and a retired owner of a plumbing business, Gord has spent his life fixing problems. And he’s good at it.

Strong and well-mannered, he waits every morning for the day’s work to begin at Carveth Care Centre, where he is a resident. He sits patiently, enjoying a cup of coffee as the morning light stretches across the floor. His cup steams as the calluses on his hands quietly proclaim a lifetime of hard work.

When something needs to be fixed at Carveth Care Centre, Gord and environmental services manager Tim Keyes are on the job.

Gord is living with dementia. Some of his memories are gone, but when he’s helping Tim with projects around the home, Gord’s problem-solving abilities are as fresh as ever.

Gord has even shown Tim a few tricks of the trade.

“I was fixing a pipe under a sink the other day and Gord didn’t like the way I was doing it,” Tim says. “Eventually, he got in there and did it himself. He did a great job.”
Environmental services manager Tim Keyes and resident Gord Palmer stand side by side raking leaves in front of Carveth Care Centre, with smiles on their faces.
Gord’s success story has been made possible by a program at Carveth Care Centre that harnesses residents’ strengths and keeps them happy by encouraging them to do activities they enjoy most.

“We look at (residents’) past life experiences, history and interests, and we try as much as we can to integrate that information into residents’ daily life,” explains Paula Lewis, the assistant director of care at the Gibson Family H
ealth Care-owned long-term care home.

The program began after several staff members took training courses to learn Montessori methods. Montessori programming is based on providing strength-based activities for people that they can self-direct.

Assessments are completed on residents when they move into Carveth Care Centre. These assessm
ents discover people’s skills and lifelong interests. Individualized programming is then developed to focus on these strengths and interests.

For Gord, he is familiar with tools and the processes involved in making repairs, so he was a natural fit to help with projects undertaken by the environmental services department. 

Most importantly, Gord is happy.

“I enjoy it if I have something to do,” Gord says. “The day goes by faster and you feel good because you’ve done something. It keeps your mind going.”

In photo: Environmental services manager Tim Keyes (left) and resident Gord Palmer (right) raking leaves at Carveth Care Centre.