When Connie Cordeiro was 5-years-old she began feeding residents at Providence Manor.
It was 1961, and her family lived a few doors down on Montreal Street.
Her mother worked as a Personal Support Worker (PSW) at the long-term care home, and Cordeiro was a curious child who didn’t like staying at home.
“I’d just walk up the street and say I’d like to feed somebody,” Cordeiro, now 62, chuckled.
Back then the home was run by the Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul, the Founders of Providence Care.
“When they wanted to get rid of me, they would send me to the patio to help the Sisters roll socks,” laughed Cordeiro.
“So I’d sit out there and match the socks.”
It was Cordeiro’s first time working with the elderly, but it wouldn’t be her last.
When she was 15, she got a job with the home as a PSW.
The hands-on care experience changed her life.
“I was so passionate about it. I thought this is what I’m meant to do,” recalled Cordeiro.
She wanted to quit high school and work at the home full time, but Sister Margaret Haughin forbade it.
The Sister saw something special in the teen and offered her a different job.
“She said ‘absolutely not! You will not quit school! I will get you a job with Meals on Wheels,” explained Cordeiro.
“That was with the home’s kitchen. So I had a cart and I delivered meals to the Resident Home Areas. I did that afterschool and on weekends until I got married.”
Cordeiro took a year off after her wedding.
But Providence Manor was on her mind, and in her heart.
In 1975, she returned to the home to work as a PSW full time.
Her supervisor saw that same sparkle Sister Margaret picked up on years before and encouraged her to become a Registered Practical Nurse (RPN).
“Every time I had my performance review, she would say ‘you’re over-qualified, you should get your RPN’. Finally when I was 29, I did it, and I’m happy I did it because it’s been very rewarding for me.”
Over the years Cordeiro would prove herself to be a valuable member of the team.
Soon she was being asked to help with staff scheduling and care planning.
The new roles meant less face time with residents, which was something she struggled with.
“I always had a connection with the residents, but the Administrator at the time told me there are many ways of serving our residents, and staffing correctly impacts care too.”
44 years later, Cordeiro is still with Providence Manor and she’s cared for thousands of residents.
“Connie is just the most incredible, meticulous and organized person. She really is the gold standard of nurses here,” said Vicki Kilpatrick, Quality Improvement Facilitator.
“She has an incredible sense of professional practice that she learned from the Sisters back in the day. They had very high standards for their nursing staff. Connie is devoted and she lives Providence Care’s Mission, Vision and Values every day.”
Cordeiro is now the Resident Assessment Instrument (RAI) Coordinator.
Her role includes managing full head-to-toe assessments for every resident at Providence Manor, and making sure they’re up to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care’s standards.
The information documented in the assessments helps with care planning.
Cordeiro and her team also introduced care conferences for resident’s families, to have more in depth conversations about their loved ones.
It’s been more than five decades since Cordeiro first strutted into Providence Manor as a child, but her desire to serve others has never wavered.
“I just wanted to make it the best place possible for residents, and give them the best quality of life, and it’s a privilege to be a part of their lives.”
She credits the Sisters, especially Sister Margaret, for putting her on the path to nursing.
“She was like a second mother and holds a special place in my heart,” Cordeiro said holding back tears.
“She was powerful, but very empathetic and she took care of her staff.”
And whether she knows it or not, Cordeiro is now inspiring the next generation of nurses the same way the Sisters did for her, more than 55-years ago.