Personal Connections Open the Door to Close Friendships

When residents and employees work closely together, a mutual respect develops, which in turn often leads to close friendships. At United, employees and residents often talk about the friendships that have developed, which makes for a mutually beneficial environment for both.

Nigel Way takes his walker for a spin
Nigel Way takes his walker for a spin

Over time, Kinesiologist Heather Wiebe at Garrison Green has developed close relationships with a number of residents while helping them improve their physical health. “It’s more than just working with them to improve mobility and strength. It’s getting to know them and how to deliver and input the information that resonates with the resident. Over time, personal connections develop and perhaps blur the line between client and friend. Taking time to listen is a simple act to do.

“One resident, Nigel Way, had a breakthrough last Friday. He has had some health issues that kept him in a wheelchair for close to two months. He wanted to be able to use his walker again and regain his independence. We worked together for three weeks and on Friday he was back using his walker. He was all smiles because he had regained his strength, mobility and confidence. At times during a session there may be an opportunity to share our life happenings, and that personal connection can help open the door to make changes.”

“The relationship starts off as professional, but it develops into a friendship,” said Nigel. “You get to know the employees and they get to know you. That goes for all of the employees here. We really get on as a family. Heather has gotten to know my daughter, who is also a kinesiologist, so the two of them talk frequently and compare notes.”

Licensed Practical Nurse Christy Armamento
Licensed Practical Nurse Christy Armamento

One Garrison Green resident was feeling anxious recently about a health issue, and LPN Christy Armamento was there to lift her mood and make her laugh. Christy saw it as a simple thing, but it made a world of difference to the resident. The resident’s daughter was so moved by the help her mother was given that she wrote a note of thanks to Christy. “Mom had been anxious and upset during the day because of a medical issue. Christy was absolutely marvellous with mom. She listened respectfully, empathized with her, explained why she might be feeling nauseous, and tactfully examined mom regarding her medical issue. They shared a laugh together and mom felt worlds better after Christy’s visit!”

“I love helping people,” said Christy,  who spends extra time with residents who may be feeling anxious or going through a health issue. “I always approach my work from the heart and offer extra assistance when I can. I empathize with them. It is amazing to know that just doing something simple for them can have such a positive impact. It felt so good being able to help. It meant the world to me too!”

The Empress of Britain
The Empress of Britain by Gordon Bauwens

Megan Angelini, concierge for Fish Creek West, has developed close bonds with the residents who care about her as much as she cares about them. One resident, Donald McKee had an interesting career as an engineer on cargo ships and has built a number of model ships that sit in his suite. He and Megan often share their experiences and Megan has come to know Donald and his family very well. One of the interesting stories that Donald shared with Megan involves a painting and Donald’s family.

British artist Gordon Bauwens loves to paint ships. In the 1950s, ships regularly travelled between the U.K. and Canada. The Empress of Britain was one of them. Gordon painted the ship lying at anchor, which was loading passengers emigrating to Canada. When Donald saw the painting, he had to have it. It turned out the three people pictured resembled his wife, son and daughter who were emigrating to Canada in 1962. He bought one for each of them.

“Megan and I talk quite often,” said Donald. “In fact, we’ve become good friends. I’ve got to know Jeff Chan in the art studio really well and we talk often. It’s great to meet the employees and other residents here, and I hope to do more of that when we can get out more.”

“The relationships we have forms trust that goes both ways between resident and employee,” said Megan. “It gives residents a feeling that there is someone here for them. I get to know them and their families and they get to know us. This is much more than just a job. I have a whole building full of grandparents who are watching out for me too!”

Photos by United Active Living, Gordon Bauwens

Videos by Sherana Productions

Don’t hesitate to talk with one of our active living advisors about life in a United community. They can arrange for a tour once it’s convenient to do so. If you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community, send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a future visit. We are happy to help! 

To learn more about life at United’s Fish Creek community, watch this short video.

Or, to find out more about life at United’s Garrison Green, watch this short video.

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