When Doreen and Martina both suffered brain injuries as adults, the hospital was there to provide the urgent medical care they needed. But once they were recovered physically, there was nowhere for them to go.
Individuals who have a brain injury can have a range of symptoms and their support needs can be very different and complex. Many people require 24-hour support and live in a personal care home or a community home with staff support.
In the case of Doreen and Martina, there wasn’t a place for them to go, and years passed them by while living in a hospital room with no one to take them out to join activities, or meet friends. Both women had a very limited life.
“I missed cooking when I was in the hospital. I don’t know how many times I’ve cooked bannock since I’ve gotten out of the hospital,” said Doreen.
The reality of a hospital stay is that it is meant for short stays or for very sick people. Living in a hospital room while also adjusting to your new abilities after a brain injury can be difficult and depressing. After over 700 days in hospital, there was no community, no activities, nothing but television and staff for company. “I used to get up early and then walk around and say “hi” at all of their desks,” said Martina.
Without any other options, St. Amant was approached by the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority to open a new service. With our experience supporting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, we were seen as an organization with the talent and expertise to provide the kind of service needed for people who have suffered a brain injury and have similar needs. And last year, St.Amant opened two homes to give Doreen, Martina and three other individuals, the kind of life and opportunities they deserve.
Doreen and Martina are both vibrant women who crave a social circle and the time and space to enjoy their favorite activities. Helping them move to the community was a wonderful opportunity to see two people emerge from their shell and begin to enjoy life again.
“It feels like home as I do everything myself like making coffee in the morning and I can cook anything I want. Tina is my friend, we share our food. It’s important to me; everything in our home is for both of us. We share everything,” said Doreen.
Doreen enjoys crocheting, baking, participating in her weekly drum group and bingo. The regular routine of the home is important to her and she works hard to make everyone feel welcome.
Martina loves music and dancing, working out at the local YM-YWCA and enjoys getting outside for fresh air and daily walks. She eagerly anticipates every visit with her sister and her twin nephews. Martina sees Doreen as both a friend and a mentor, taking the opportunity to learn how to cook and practice some of her home language of Cree.
“I have a roommate I love, I love my roommate. I love the community. Compared to the hospital, I have freedom, I go shopping and watch movies at the theatres,” said Martina.
Although the women require support to get where they need to go, to ensure there’s food in the fridge and to make safe choices, both women choose how to spend their time. They participate in meaningful activities and have made connections and friends in their new community. Just like you and me, the people St.Amant supports want to connect with others, feel a part of their community and make a difference in the world.
“Everybody that lives here is laughing and making jokes. What can I say? One time my late mom told me when somebody comes to your home, make sure you give them a cup of tea or some bannock. You are giving them hope; you are giving them life. You are showing them love,” said Doreen.
Each day, children and adults with developmental disabilities and autism rely on St.Amant’s services. You can help them have a meaningful quality of life by making a generous donation to the St.Amant Foundation.
By donating to St.Amant, you will support:
- Accessible and inclusive recreational activities
- Renovation of living spaces to ensure they’re accessible, hospitable, safe and desirable places to live
- iPads, computers and communication devices to inspire, engage and teach
- Development of a classroom for children with autism
- Simple things that make a big difference, like eye glasses and hearing aids
- Complex projects like research and new, innovative services