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Extra Help for Seniors

Whether it is voluntary or paid, there is often lots of extra help for seniors who decide to move into a retirement home. The following stories portray a retirement home volunteer and a program that offers extra assistance to people inside a Toronto area retirement home.

At Stouffville retirement home, Mary Moffat finds 'joy in helping others'

Ten years ago, visiting her own mother in a retirement residence sparked Mary Moffatt’s compassion and a desire to work with seniors.

“When I went to the home, nobody was visiting (the seniors) and I thought, how sad,” says the 35-year resident of Stouffville, Ontario. “I would come in and talk to them and . . . I’ve been helping out ever since.”

Moffat has volunteered for 35 out of her 74 years, dedicating the last decade to Bloomington Cove, a Specialty Care long-term care facility in the Stouffville area. She’s modest about her accomplishments, but they haven’t gone unnoticed. She was awarded Volunteer of the Year in 2002, through the Ontario Volunteer Association, and in April 2003 the residents at Bloomington Cove awarded her a similar honour.

Every spring Moffat delivers crocuses to the 112 residents on behalf of the Lions of Stouffville. She also helps to organize everything from a June fishing derby to the Strawberry Social.

“I enjoy the strawberry festival. . . square dancers come in and you see their (the seniors’) feet tapping away. We dance with them to make their days a little more enjoyable.”
Making a personal connection with residents keeps her energized.

“When I go in and put my arm around them. . . then they start talking. When I come out of there I feel great. I did something to make them laugh and a lot of them like to chat.”

Churchill Place retirement residence, Oakville, offers 'extra' seniors care

Melita Jacobs just went to choir practice again. And that is pretty amazing. And her GP just remarked that she had her old smile back again. It could have been different.

Melita, 86, has lived at Churchill Place retirement residence in Oakville for three years, but in the last year she has had a number of health episodes that have put her in hospital, once on a ventilator for a week. Now she has to be taken for dialysis and in January she had a stroke that affected her speech.

Social workers had recommended a long-term care home. "But my mother has expressed to me that she wants to stay at Churchill Place," says her daughter, Doreen Bennink. "That's where her friends are."

Enter Bayshore Home Health. Kim Yoshida, a Bayshore care worker has helped Melita through all her difficult times, driving her for dialysis, providing the intimate care that, Doreen says, would have made her mother uncomfortable at the hands of strangers.

"This is the most vulnerable time of her life," says Doreen, who is in business with her husband. "At Churchill Place, everyone knows her. They can understand what she's saying. We don't expect miracles, but we believed if there was any chance of her getting her strength back it would be at home-at Churchill. "

Says Luanne Ellison, area director for Bayshore, "A little extra care is often what people need so they won't have to be moved to long-term care." Every time there was a new crisis for Melita, "we were able to flip the switch and provide extra care," she says. Choir is her mother's favourite, says Doreen. "She was so excited to be able to go to practice again."

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