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Living At CONNECT By Jennifer

 

We all have horror stories of previous facilities that we have had the misfortune of living at before coming to CONNECT Communities. I myself lived in an acute care hospital for 18 months, where most of the nurses treated their patients with little to no respect, where the care aides were so overworked that their behavior was often downright rude, and where the facility was so crowded with patients in beds lining the hallways and tables and equipment crowding every corner that it took half an hour just to get out of the building to go for a walk with my family. I spent eight weeks at long-term care facility for the very elderly who were treated as if they were just there to wait to die, where many of the care aides were detached, cool, even cruel, and where the food was so horrible that simply smelling it coming down the hall was enough to put me off.

When I arrived at CONNECT East House, I was terrified!  I had no idea what was in store for me or what the staff would be like or how I was going to be treated.  Within the first 15 minutes all my fears were put to rest.  I arrived in quite a state!  I had to pee so bad I was in tears and unable and unwilling to go through the niceties of introductions.  The first person I encountered was Johanne, who was instantly compassionate and had a sense of urgency.  She immediately arranged to get me on the bed pan as quickly as possible, then she took me outside for a cigarette and a cup of coffee so that I could calm down and get my bearings.  During this time she explained the basics of the house, who the residents were, when meals were, and assured me that they encouraged independence and autonomy and promoted safety for both myself and the staff.  I was soothed, my worries put the rest; I knew that I was going to be okay here.

Now, it's not utopia.  There are issues and irritating circumstances that we all must live through.  The houses are intimate with the residents and staff working fairly closely together, so there are bound to be miscommunications and disagreements and even arguments.  Certain days or times of the day there's not enough staff to handle all the residents at once and that can be frustrating for both staff and residents.  Visitors and family members can be demanding or disruptive causing other residents needs to be placed lower on the priority list.  And all of us residents have individual needs and wants that can't necessarily be met with the swiftness and accuracy that we'd like and that can make us feel forgotten, angry, hurt.

But let's face it, these are really great places to live!  The grounds are lovely with plenty of grass and trees and wildlife and places to go walking or riding in your wheelchair.  The houses are clean and comfortable, well heated, and stocked with entertainment like televisions, game consoles, DVD players, games, puzzles, cards.  There is plenty of equipment for rehabilitation and even designated spaces for that rehabilitation.  We have our own rooms, relatively spacious, with good light, which we're encouraged to decorate to make ourselves feel more at home.  The meals are healthy and cooked fresh with the occasional takeout or sweets for variety and treats.  We get to shower as often as we need to and always have clean clothes because the laundry is done for us.  We may complain about having to wait but realistically we never have to wait for more than 15 minutes to have our needs met, especially if we have to use the bathroom.  Most of the staff are kind and compassionate and always willing and eager to help.  Many of them, if they have the time, will sit and have a conversation with you, speaking to you like a normal human being with your own thoughts and feelings and opinions.  Autonomy is encouraged and independence is celebrated.  The staff is always willing to do their best to facilitate the required therapy or provide the necessary equipment to continually improve independence and quality of life.

As we become adjusted to our surroundings and living conditions it is a natural human response to begin to find fault and forget about the good things.  I am just as much to blame for this as anyone else.  Now and again, I try to check myself and remember my past experiences.  I try to celebrate my good fortune at being placed at Connect Communities and all the progress I’ve made as a result of being in an encouraging and healthy environment.