Our Stories

St.Amant Team Makes Life-Changing Visit to Churchill, Manitoba

June 11, 2024

When Sophie Robitaille and Jason Lee from St.Amant received a referral from Churchill, Manitoba, they knew it was a unique and critical opportunity. Sophie, a behavior analyst with nearly five years at St.Amant, and Jason, a psychology technician with 18 years of service, were tasked with helping a man with dementia and an acquired brain injury who had severe behavioral challenges.

The request came from the Churchill Health Center, where staff were struggling to support the individual. Initially, St.Amant was asked to admit the man to its Stabilization Unit but the disruption of moving a person with dementia to a new and unfamiliar environment was deemed detrimental. Instead, the decision was made to send Sophie and Jason to Churchill to provide on-site support to the care team.

“We were excited about the opportunity,” Sophie recalled. “Not just because we got to visit a place like Churchill, but because we knew we could make a real difference in this man’s life by helping him stay in his familiar environment.”

Upon arrival, they immediately set to work. Jason met with the staff to understand their challenges and gather information on the individual’s behaviors. Meanwhile, Sophie spent time directly with the individual, learning about his communication and personal needs. They then refined their training materials based on these insights.

“We had prepared some training for the staff beforehand,” Jason explained, “but meeting everyone and seeing the situation firsthand allowed us to tailor our approach to be much more effective.”

Their efforts included training sessions for the staff, focusing on behavior management strategies and ways to reduce reliance on heavy medications. These strategies aimed to improve the individual’s quality of life by managing his behaviors without excessive sedation.

“In terms of his quality of life, the number one thing is that he’s in his own environment now,” Sophie said. “We worked with the doctors to discuss the risks and benefits of his medications and provided the staff with strategies to manage his behaviors. This holistic approach is crucial, especially for someone with dementia.”

The impact was significant. Not only did the individual remain in Churchill, but the need for seeking an alternative placement was eliminated. “The staff was incredibly hospitable and eager to learn,” Jason shared. “Their dedication to this individual was evident, and it made our job easier knowing they were committed to implementing the strategies we provided.”

Reflecting on the experience, Sophie noted, “I hope this leads to more opportunities to intervene before situations become critical. A dedicated program for early intervention could be life-changing for many individuals.”

Jason added, “It’s especially important for remote communities that often lack resources. Seeing the positive impact we had in Churchill underscores the need for accessible support across Manitoba.”

Their visit to Churchill was a testament to the power of personalized, on-site support and the profound impact it can have on individuals and communities.

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