Understanding change is the key to helping residents adapt
PETERBOROUGH, Ont.— Change is a central theme in the long-term care sector, and caregivers need to understand the value of accepting and adapting to transition for the sake of the people they serve as well as themselves, Janet Irvine told attendees Jan. 24 at a Four Counties Long-Term Care Palliative Network seminar.
“Long-term care is a house of change,” said Irvine, CEO of Alz Well That Enz Well, a company she started in Cobourg to empower caregivers. Through her company, Irvine also offers a respite service called Reviv’in for caregivers in need of a retreat.
In her presentation, which was sponsored by OMNI Health Care and health-care company Novo Nordisk, Irvine emphasized that change affects residents, their families and staff members in long-term care homes.
“It’s a total relocation of people and it doesn’t just mean a change of address, it means a change in their social patterns, it means a change in their family dynamics . . . it also means building new relationships with all the people who are now providing care for them.”
And in order for staff members in long-term care homes to provide the best quality of care to residents, they must understand that when residents make the transition into a home they’re going through a major life change. This means that everyone needs to acknowledge that every resident may react differently to the transition.
Change has been a major theme in Irvine’s life. Within a short period of time her husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, her parents passed away and she suffered two strokes. The way to deal with change, she told the audience, is to “understand and accept the reality of change” and that “change is life.”
Representatives from several long-term care homes in the network listened with enthusiasm to her message.
“The main message (of the seminar) is to be sensitive to the needs of people who are dealing with extraordinary change in their lives and who deal with it in a number of different ways, and to respect the fact that it might not be the same way that you would deal with it but that those are individual needs and concerns that have to be dealt with,” she said following her presentation.
Irvine also stressed that staff members in long-term care homes need to take time to adapt to changes within their working environment and to have their own needs met, as well.
Those in the audience said they enjoyed Irvine’s presentation.
“She’s certainly an inspiration,” said Jenny Samis, recreation manager at Bon Air Residence, a Chartwell-owned long-term care home in Cannington. Samis added that she came away from the presentation with a better understanding of how “a positive attitude will get you through.”
Mary Anne Greco, administrator and director of care at OMNI-owned Burnbrae Gardens in Campbellford, said she and others she had spoken with found the presentation to be enlightening and helpful.
“(Irvine) is such a wealth of information and everyone I’ve spoken to is finding what she talked about to be relevant to their current status in life,” she said.