I can honestly say that I never imagined I’d end up working in the LTC sector, nor did I ever even want to in any way, shape or form. I know what you’re thinking after reading that, and yes, I know it doesn’t sound great, but, hear me out.
My dad was a recreational therapist in long term care at Laurentian Hospital in Sudbury for over 30 years. He loved his job, and until the day he had to step away for health-related reasons, his patients were always his top priority. He was a caring, compassionate, and all-around good guy and he went above and beyond time and time again for the people in his care.
From a fairly young age, I would tag along every now and then for activities on the weekends. Throughout the year my dad would enlist my help for some of his patient projects. Sometimes it was, let’s go out in the middle of winter and cut down a tree, so he could brighten up the common areas around the holidays.
Some of his patients would even get my sister and me Christmas presents every year. One lady stands out the most, Gwendolyn Smith. She was a patient of my dad’s for many years before she, unfortunately, passed away. I remember my dad always made sure she was well taken care of and was able to enjoy life to the fullest. When she passed, I remember the toll it took on my dad. That’s when I realized that health care or long-term care wasn’t for me and that I didn’t have what it takes.
Over his 30-year career in LTC, I am sure my dad experienced the same grief and emotional obstacles that our front line LTC workers experience every day. Being surrounded by people that you come to know on a personal level that are part of a revolving door of, here one day, gone the next. It wasn’t until years later when I lost my grandfather and my dad in short succession that I experienced what it is like to have your heart broken by loss and be grief-stricken more than once in such a short time period.
This is when I saw the big picture, and realized what kind of man my dad truly was. I can honestly say that I wouldn’t be able to fill my dad’s shoes. I would not be able to work on the front lines in long term care. I don’t work on the front lines now, but I do work in long term care. When making the decision to come work for StaffStat, I kept thinking about my dad. I thought about the impact he had on his patients, their families as well as his co-workers. I might not be having the same direct impact, but I feel that there is a role to play for all of us.
I think my dad would have been proud of me for trying to make a difference in the sector where he spent his entire career. Even though we may have totally different roles our goals and intentions are the same. I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree after all.
~ Mat Houle, Manager – Business Development at StaffStat Inc.