Did you know Dementia affects 1.1 million Canadians, either directly or indirectly and 16,000 of Canadians living with Dementia are under 65 years of age? That is not something I knew 3 years ago when my father – 62 years old at the time – was officially diagnosed with Dementia.
While I myself was 29 years old at the time, I struggled being his primary caretaker. I was not mentally or emotionally equipped to handle such a grueling and scary journey. I did the best that I could and that eventually meant making the difficult decision to have him move into a long term care facility – not an easy transition for either of us but we made it work. I didn’t know what to expect, for him, for me, for them. As a person who hates letting go of control and hates not knowing what is happening when I’m not there, it was difficult, to say the least. I would lose sleep knowing, despite the wonderful staff, that the home was likely short-staffed. Enter Plan A and the opportunity to make a real difference.
When the opportunity presented itself to work for Plan A and to be part of the solution, it only made sense to me to go for it. Truth be told, it’s been more challenging than I realized to separate work and personal life. On the one hand, I get ‘behind-the-scenes’ knowledge, if you will. On the other, I often see the devastating reality of the staffing shortage in the healthcare industry. I see a shift posted and think “is my dad going to get the full quality care he deserves today?” or “I wonder if that’s for his unit”. Suddenly, I go from feeling like I’m making a difference to feeling discouraged. Every time I go visit my father, I find myself looking at things from a ‘worker’ standpoint and not necessarily a ‘daughter’ standpoint. I have now noticed that it gives me extremely high standards with regards to applicants and staff members. People in healthcare often say they try to ask themselves “How would I want my family treated?”. I ask myself “Would I feel confident having this person caring for my dad?”. I’m generally unwavering with my opinion and impression of these individuals because I want to ensure that only the best of the best are given that Plan A ID badge and being added to our homes’ staff pools.
I still struggle daily to balance both aspects. Some days are easier than others. One thing I do know is that my position with Plan A and the experience and insight I have gained in my role makes me a better caretaker and advocate for my father and for other seniors and their families. I also know that the personal aspect that I bring to the company makes me more invested in the vision and mission. As I continue to grow within my amazing group of colleagues, I will only get better at the balancing act and will continue to always strive to do the very best knowing that my work is making an impact in the lives of our most vulnerable.
~ Michelle Lambert, Administrative Assistant, Plan A Timmins