Behavioural Supports soothe dementia patients

With the numerous problems faced by and within Ontario’s nursing homes, we are used to sad stories about long-term care.

That’s why it was a very pleasant surprise to hear from Nancy Waddle, a Behavioural Supports worker at Sienna Barnswallow Place Care Community in Elmira, Ontario, about the open and collaborative atmosphere at her workplace.

“I absolutely love it there,” said Nancy without hesitation, about the nursing home where she’s been a caregiver since 2012. “I would send any of my loved ones to my nursing home.”

Nancy Waddle

Nancy credits in part the management team for the quality of the home. She says they treat the employees with respect. It’s a different environment than her last workplace, a privately owned nursing home. What’s important, she says, is that “I believe that when I speak, I’m heard.”

Behavioural Supports of Ontario is a funding initiative by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, and it created Nancy’s job. She works directly with residents on their mental health, finding creative solutions to soothe people when they’re upset or acting out.

Nancy’s passion for her residents and work is palpable. Her favourite place is on the Alzheimer’s floor. She tells a story about one resident that she sees regularly. When they wake up around 5 a.m. asking to go home, Nancy takes the time to remind them that they are safe, that this is their home. She gives them puzzles to work on so they have something to do.

For other patients who don’t want to do certain things like take a bath, she figures out how to convince them it’s a good idea.

“It’s all about dignity and respect,” says Nancy. “The residents remember your smile and how you made them feel.”

We caught up with Nancy during a week-long bargaining session in Richmond Hill, where as part of a bargaining committee she is helping negotiate a new contract for around 16,000 nursing and retirement home workers across Ontario.

Whether you’re at the bargaining table or living in a nursing home, it’s clear that you want Nancy and her coworkers at Barnswallow Place on your team.

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