Residents and staff at United’s Fish Creek community have created close working relationships that have evolved, in many cases, into meaningful friendships.
While employees are traditionally seen as separate from residents because of their role, many staff at United find themselves becoming an integral part of a family’s inner circle due to the relationships they create.
“I’m very impressed with the caring and respect shown by the staff here,” said Conrad Irving, who with his wife Dorothy, moved into Fish Creek North. “It’s hard to put into words, but the relationship with staff has grown deeper. In the couple of years we have lived here, we have found that staff have become more like family.”
Both Conrad and Dorothy are very involved in the arts and music programs that United offers. Dorothy, who is experiencing memory issues, is also part of United’s unique United Minds program.
“I was one of their first contacts when they moved into Fish Creek,” said Becky Robertson, United Minds aide. “We built up a trusting relationship and I feel a deep connection with them. They are very welcoming people and I feel that I’m part of their family.”
“I would adopt her if I could!” laughs Conrad. “She is more than simply a staff member. There is such energy and compassion in the time she spends with Dorothy.”
Becky is one of several staff members that Conrad and Dorothy consider as close friends. Jeanette Padilla is another. She became involved with United more than eight years ago, first as a volunteer in the art studio at Garrison Green, then she moved full time into food services. “I treat everyone with TLC (tender loving care), like they are close family members,” said Jeanette, Lead Server at Fish Creek. “If Dorothy usually comes in for a meal, but misses a day, I always ask if everything is okay. It’s important to me that the residents are happy and comfortable.”
Jenny from the nursing department, who comes in each morning to help Dorothy get ready for the day, and Kim Coulter, who oversees the programming at United are also counted as close friends.
“Jenny has become part of our family,” said Conrad. “I hear Dorothy and Jenny laughing and that starts our day off on such a positive note. As Dorothy’s main caregiver, I always put her needs first and sometimes forget about mine. But with Jenny here, her presence and support is invaluable.”
“Every time I come in to work, I look forward to connecting with our residents. Dorothy is special to me. I treat Dorothy and all the residents as I would my own family,” said Jenny. “I always bring a smile and laughter. I want to make each day a good one for them!”
Conrad also considers Kim Coulter a good friend. “With Kim, I can speak with her about anything I might have on my mind. She is a terrific listener, and always has a way of giving me the right advice just when I need it.”
Kim said that building trust and truly caring about the residents is what leads to meaningful friendships. She recalls a time when a new resident was reluctant to go on an outing. She agreed to go but only if Kim went with her. The two held hands the whole way and the resident was glad she had made the trip. That small gesture opened the door for the resident to go on more outings and explore new things.
Kim, Conrad and Dorothy have built a similar friendship, and she is honoured that Conrad trusts her to share his concerns. “He is very supportive of the programming work that we do. The programs are based on what the residents want so their input is very important. The residents are so involved in everything. Building friendships and trust – it’s a two-way street and a big part of what strengthens our community as a whole.”
“The staff at Fish Creek have made our stay here enjoyable,” said Conrad. “They really care about us. They just want to be here for us, and that has become something special for our family. Coming to Fish Creek was a lifestyle change for us, but the staff has gone above and beyond to make our new home enjoyable and comfortable. I can’t say enough about how positive that’s been for us.”
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To learn more about life at United’s Fish Creek community, watch this short video.
Photos by United Active Living, Sherana Productions. Video by Sherana Productions.