Celebrating seniors and their lifetime of wisdom

To care for those who once cared for us is one of the highest honours in life.

It is a sentiment that lives in the heart of Donna Joudoin, Activity Director at Helen Henderson Care Centre, an accredited retirement and long-term care home in Amherstview.

Passionate about the wellbeing of others, Donna has been serving seniors in the Kingston area for 32 years; 25 of which at Helen Henderson Care Centre.

“I can’t even believe it’s been that long, it’s crazy,” she says with a smile. “I love working with seniors because they’re our past. They created where we are today.”

Taking a break from her busy day to talk about Activity Professionals Week in March, Donna describes her professional goal as an attempt to make life better for seniors.

Donna Joudoin and Doris Peterson, a 103-year-old resident, hold up a "Love" sign“Just because you’re a senior doesn’t mean you stop living,” she says with quiet conviction. “People think life stops in long-term care, but that’s not the way it is. I’d like to see that attitude change because it’s a beginning, not an end.”

Known for her innovative programs at the accredited home, Donna and her team have been gaining national attention for their interactive and engaging activities such as pet and music therapy, diners’ club, games, trips and a dedicated dementia program.

“Donna is the heart of Helen Henderson Care Centre,” says Angela Gibson, Assistant Administrator. “She has dedicated herself completely to the residents, staff, volunteers and the Gibson family who own and operate the home. I have never known anyone to be more caring and compassionate to those around them. We are fortunate to have her as part of our team.”

Donna sees the home as a leader in the industry.

“We can never stop moving and growing,” says the 51-year-old Inverary woman. “We’re committed to keeping abreast of modern technology and enhancing our programs to meet the next generation of seniors. We’re in a constantly changing field so we have to change to meet those needs.”

Asked to describe herself, Donna uses words such as caring, goal-oriented, motivated, positive and progressive.

“I always like to be moving forward,” says the friendly activity professional. “I have a really good work ethic. I’m constantly trying to improve myself. I also like to help people and I’m a really good listener. I think that’s an important quality.”

Another interesting aspect of Donna is her ability to read people’s moods.

“I see things in people other people don’t see,” she explains. “I pick-up on moods quickly. I can tell if a resident is sad, frustrated, upset or happy.”

Grateful for the opportunity to celebrate seniors and their lifetime of wisdom, Donna notes, “I feel blessed to have such a long career in one place. I’m passionate about the good work here.”

In photo: Donna Joudoin (right) with Doris Peterson, a Helen Henderson resident who turned 103 in February 2018.

This story was originally published by Helen Henderson Care Centre. Reposted with permission.