Loralee and her roommate are enjoying their new community home, routine and activities thanks to a team effort by their families, past staff and current staff who worked together to ensure a positive transition. The transition process began two years ago when both women, who lived at St.Amant’s River Road Place, were identified as individuals who could benefit from living in the community. Part of St.Amant’s 5-year strategic plan is to support people who are able to live in the community to move to a community home.
Last year, St.Amant’s Community Residential Program staff met Loralee and her soon-to-be roommate and began shadowing their days at River Road Place to get to know the women and learn about their routines, meet their families and hang out with them once a week. Resident assistants and nurses who supported them at River Road Place shared information about what the women like and dislike and told the community program staff about their lives, as both had lived most of their lives at River Road Place. The staff at River Road Place was also very interested to learn about community living and how the community setting and staffing would provide appropriate support to the women.
The manager for their new home, Catherine, has been with St.Amant for 12 years, two as a resident assistant at River Road Place and the last 10 as a support worker in St.Amant’s Community Residential Program. With Catherine’s support, the women met prospective staff to determine if they were the right fit for the home, essentially participating in the hiring process.
Resident assistants from River Road Place brought Loralee and her roommate to visit their new home individually for short visits to get comfortable with the space and environment. Community staff was also at these visits organized by St.Amant social workers. Eventually, the women began to have overlapping visits and spend time together. Their families were able to visit the home and help choose some of the personal elements of paint and décor.
Physiotherapists and occupational therapists from St.Amant were involved to ensure the proper furniture and supports were in place and that staff was trained in transferring the women from their wheelchairs to chairs, couches, and beds. Dietitians were involved along with the nursing staff to teach how to provide meals through tube feeding. St.Amant’s psychology staff assisted with the transition, ensuring the women kept their daily activities and that staff learned to respond appropriately and consistently to any stress the women might experience during or after the move.
Moving day occurred in October. The home was personalized and furnished with the specialized supports needed such as a shower chair, lift system, accessible tables and a sensory room. The sensory room is now something both women seek out to enjoy some quiet time. It has dark walls with black lights, glowing accessories and a vibrating chair to relax and listen to music.
Overwhelmingly, Loralee and her roommate have responded very well to their new home and are enjoying their life in a quiet, community setting. Some of their routines have stayed the same, yet others have changed – Loralee’s roommate likes to sleep late and is now able to do that as the higher staff ratio allows for individual schedules.
Both women recently hosted a housewarming party for friends and former staff. They have both enjoyed participating in many community activities such as walking around their new community, meeting neighbours, visiting the casino and returning to River Road for an evening of socializing at the FM Café. Loralee started a swimming program at the local pool and both attended Disney on Ice. Rounding out their busy social life, family members visit often and enjoy sharing meals together in the new home.
The support from family to actively support staff to develop strong relationships with their family members was integral to the success of the move.