A legacy of giving back

Margaret Stankievech’s husband, Aaron, was the love of her life. They met in Yorkshire, Northern England, where they were both stationed during the Second World War. Margaret was a stenographer in the British Air Force, and Aaron was serving overseas in the Royal Canadian Air Force.

They fell in love, got married and moved back after the war to Aaron’s hometown of Trochu, Alberta, where he co-founded a dealership now known as Trochu Motors, a thriving family business. 

When Margaret’s husband passed away three years ago, she moved into the seniors' lodge at St. Mary’s Health Care Centre in Trochu.

“I moved into the lodge a month after my husband died because I knew that was what I needed to do,” says Margaret, 96, who has three adult daughters who live in Calgary. “I’m very well looked after, and it’s good to get the care here.”

Residents at the lodge, operated by Covenant Health, live independently with some support. Site administrator Thomas Metlin says residents are primarily able to care for themselves. Some may require home care to assist with medications, dressings, baths and other additional healthcare needs.

“It’s independent living for seniors,” he explains. “We provide hospitality, cleaning and food services. Lodge living is not suitable if you require full-time care.”

Margaret says her memory — which she refers to as the “computer in her head” — is starting to slip, and she uses a walker, but she doesn’t have any underlying chronic conditions.

She spends her days in her private quarters, which include a two-piece bathroom, knitting, reading, checking emails on her personal computer and taking her tea, which staff deliver to her room.  

She gets a bath twice a week, assisted by someone from Home Care. “The hot bath is nice, but it’s a little much for me to try and do it on my own,” she says.

She also keeps busy with group activities at the lodge, like making cards for long-term care residents living in the same building. Before becoming a resident, Margaret was involved in providing pastoral care at the lodge for 25 years as a volunteer, a practice she continues to this day co-leading the devotion with the pastor. 

A people person, she has also become the social planner for the lodge and has organized activities for residents to enjoy. She rallied two volunteers who play the piano and accordion to regularly perform for residents over the summer. Their performances were held outdoors to comply with COVID-19 guidelines, and staff opened the windows of the dining room so the music could be heard indoors.

“The staff are very much into making sure everything is going right for us,” says Margaret.

Recreation therapist Randi Hogg notes that Margaret often goes out of her way to enrich the lives of other lodge residents, which complements her own role as an activity planner. “We are a small site, so we want to ensure that everyone gets looked after.” She adds that Margaret, whom she treasures a lot, is her delight at the lodge. “I have known her for many years and am fortunate to still have her in my life here.”

Margaret says that while the lodge is not the same as the family home she once shared with her husband, she is happy. “I’m quite content here.”  

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