Health care aides double as hairstylists for residents

Almost every morning, health care aide Rommel Arguelles carefully weaves Youville Home resident Inge Small’s hair into a braid or bun. Inge, a former hairdresser, is particular about how she likes her hair done, and these days Rommel is her preferred hairstylist. When he’s finished, she looks into the mirror and beams at her reflection, ready to start the day. 

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, hairdressers have not been able to visit continuing care homes, like Youville Home, in recent months. While hairstyling and cutting may not seem like conventional parts of health care, many residents have missed having their hair done and are unable to style it themselves. For residents, these services help them feel like themselves and go a long way toward boosting their self-esteem.

Rommel carefully styles Inge's hair almost every day so that she feels ready to begin her day.

“Having their hair done is important to them,” Rommel says. “It’s part of their daily routine and social life, and it’s a big part of respecting their dignity.”

That’s why health care aides at the site have added hair cutting and styling, and even makeup application when requested, to the daily care they provide to residents. While these services aren’t typically part of a health care aide’s work, they are crucial to residents’ well-being. 

For residents like Inge, having her hair styled in the morning means a great deal and sets the tone for her day.

“It feels lovely,” Inge says. “When you look good, you feel good.”

Donhalia Elizaga, also a health care aide at Youville Home, says it’s a privilege to be able to spend this extra quality time with residents. To her and her colleagues, the residents they care for are like family. 

“We treat them like our parents and grandparents, like our own family,” Donhalia says. “Small things make them smile. Sometimes a resident who doesn’t talk very much will say ‘thank you’ at the end, and it melts my heart.”

Youville Home residents are happy to have their hair done by staff.

Staff on Youville Home's Unit 5 are finding new ways to serve residents during COVID-19.

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