Creating an environment of nourishing life experiences 

Paula Lewis knows the importance of nourishing life experiences.

A former Director of Care and Administrator with more than 35 years of experience in long-term care - the past ten years at Carveth Care Centre as Assistant Director of Care - Lewis has spent most of her life trying to make people feel appreciated.

“I do get passionate about working with seniors, appreciating their experiences and ensuring they continue to have a voice as they age,” she says with a smile about a program she created at Carveth to help staff, volunteers, residents and their families understand the importance of kindness and compassion.

But achieving widespread kindness and compassion in any community is a challenge.

“Elders and staff are experiencing it,” she says about members of the Carveth community who are familiar with the unproductive behaviour of bullying found in homes & workplaces around the world.

“I don’t care where you are employed, the health care environment is alive with bullying.”

Sadly, seniors are not exempt.

“Seniors in general are a bullied cohort,” says Lewis. “It’s not just children who have this problem.”

She notes seniors can be bullied by health care professionals, family members and other residents.  Often the behaviour is not recognized as a form of bullying. For example, a family member who may think their older loved one is not making the right decision and repeatedly tries to change the senior’s mind or health care personnel who can undermine a senior’s decision. Feelings of being bullied can also relate to staff and family interchanges as well.

“As people age, decisions are being taken away from them. Well-meaning people can make the elder feel not capable anymore.”

To counter this problem, Lewis created an anti-bullying campaign at Carveth Care Centre that helps people understand how their behaviour affects others.

The program began in early 2015 with staff and has expanded to include volunteers, residents and their families.

“I’ve had very positive feedback from the residents, staff and families” says Lewis about her campaign to identify and prevent bullying.

As she educates, Lewis finds people are surprised to learn how our daily behaviour can constitute bullying if repeated regularly. This includes tactics such as avoiding eye contact, keeping your hands in your pockets, applying the silent treatment and using an unreasonable tone of voice. 

To be a legitimate form of bullying, the behaviour has to be repeated and persistent and can include gossiping, shaming, blaming, violence, jealousy or put-downs. Bullying can be physical, verbal or non-verbal.

Part of a Ukrainian-Irish family, Lewis benefitted from strong female influences when she was young and impressionable. She was taught to respect and learn from elders. 

Lewis adds wisely, “You need to have that passion and caring for seniors or you shouldn’t be in the (long-term care) business.”

The program has proven to be so popular at Carveth, it will continue the rest of the year.

Lewis is committed to building this progressive awareness campaign that promotes nourishing life experiences for the people who live and work in the home.

To learn more about this anti-bullying campaign please contact Paula Lewis at 613-382-4752 Ext 108 or paulalewis@gibsonfamilyhealthcare.com