Giving families a voice in their loved ones' care

One of the hardest decisions Laree Findlay has ever had to make was to move her mom, Phyllis Clark, into long-term care. 

Phyllis is 92. She calls one of the Dementia Cottages at St. Therese Villa home. Phyllis spent most of her adult life working the family homestead at Carmangay, an hour outside Lethbridge. She was famous for her melt-in-your-mouth pies. Laree remembers helping her mom feed the field workers. “All summer, we’d make pies in the morning, take dinner out in pots, come home, do the dishes and then start all over again,” she laughs. “Sometimes I think we worked harder than the men."

Phyllis Clark (right) and Laree Findlay enjoying a summer afternoon. Laree says getting involved in your loved one’s care is important.

Laree knows she’s not the only person to struggle with transitioning a loved one into long-term care. “It’s very emotional; you feel like nobody could look after your parent like you can.” She believes the best way to cope is to get involved.

Site Administrator Tracy Humphrey and her team could not agree more. The healthcare team has created a number of opportunities for family members to become more involved with St. Therese Villa, including a regular Resident-Family Meeting and smaller groups that focus on specific aspects of care, such as food or communication. These opportunities give residents, families and staff a chance to discuss care and get to know each other better.

Laree is one of the founding members of the Family Support Group, which helps families adjust to having a loved one in long-term care. The group provides information as well as emotional support. “Sometimes we just need to talk to somebody,” says Laree.

Tracy is pleased that groups like Family Support Group are helping to build a strong St. Therese Villa community. She hopes to see family participation continue and grow. “Family members are an important part of the care team,” she says. “Their voice matters.”


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