Providence Care’s Attendant Care Outreach program has been putting clients first for more than three decades.
Clients like Wayne Westfall.
The 71-year-old began using the service in the mid-80s, and continued with it up until his passing in January 2020.
Before his passing, Westfall expressed a desire to share his story.
He spoke with Providence Care about what the program has meant to him.
“I wouldn’t be here without this program. It let me have an independent life with guaranteed help at home when I need it,” he said.
In 1979, when Westfall was 30-years-old his life dramatically changed.
While on a hike with a friend on Mount Arrowhead in Alaska, he slipped on some moss and fell 30 feet.
Miraculously he survived, but his injuries were so severe he was left with quadriplegia.
Westfall refused to let his impairment define him as a person.
Nor did he want to live in a long-term care facility.
He wanted to stay independent, but he knew he needed help.
Back then, there were no attendant care services in the Kingston area.
So he advocated for one.
“I wanted an outreach program that gave a person as much independence as they wanted or as little,” explained Westfall.
He worked with government and was part of a committee that helped design a program to help people with physical impairments live safely in their own homes.
The committee also had its choice of service providers and ultimately chose Providence Care based on its reputation.
“We knew the Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul and their service and compassion,” Westfall recalled.
In 1985, Providence Care unveiled its Attendant Care Outreach program.
It offers daily living assistance to individuals with long-term physical disabilities in their own homes in Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington, seven days a week.
Clients must be at least 16-years-old and able to self-direct the kind of care they want, up to 21-hours per week.
Services include personal care such as bathing, dressing and grooming, household tasks like cooking and cleaning, as well as attending appointments, going grocery shopping or other activities outside of a client’s home.
“The client really is at the centre of their care. How they want their care, when they want their care, and even who they would like to receive their care from, the client directs it all,” explained Jo-Ann Shotton, Person Support Services and Adult Day Programs Manager.
Westfall was the first person to sign up.
“I’m in control of my life and these people help me. They’re my hands. They’re my feet. I can live my life in a normal fashion,” he said.
Attendant Care Outreach Team Leader Marty Elliott began working with Westfall in 1997.
“Wayne and I have always gotten along well and he is super at directing what he needs,” smiled Elliott.
“It’s about building a relationship and a connection, and that starts with listening to what clients like Wayne need.”
“He knows how to follow my instructions. He’s got people skills, knows the job inside out and he cares deeply,” added Westfall.
“I’m very grateful the program has responded the way it has. They’ve got good management, they’ve got good staff, they know their clients, and they listen.”
Shotton says it’s all about giving clients the respect they deserve.
“What we teach attendants and personal support workers when they come in for orientation is, at any given time when you walk out this door you could become a client so how would you like to be treated? We want them to treat clients the same way they would expect someone to treat them in their personal space, that’s the design of the program.”
“Without trained, qualified staff this program wouldn’t be successful, but it’s essential that they take the time to get know our clients, like the beginning of any relationship,” added Elliott.
And the program’s track record speaks for itself.
There are more than 80 clients currently enrolled.
Nearly half of them have been accessing services for more than 10 years; 18 of those for more than 20 years.
“We’re not one of those programs that end when you turn 65. As long as you’re able to stay safely in your home and direct your services, you’re welcome to stay with our program. But a client does have the right to terminate services,” explained Shotton.
Westfall says thanks to Attendant Care Outreach he was able to live the kind of life he wanted to live.
A true renaissance man, he accomplished many things during his 71-years on the planet.
He was a social worker, teacher, activist, artist, loving friend and so much more.
“I wanted a real life, doing something I wanted to do. I hope they maintain the spirit of client-centred care, and client control as much as possible. That’s going to help a person become as full of a person as they can,” said Westfall.
And that’s exactly what the service has been doing for the last 35 years.
Westfall may be gone, but his drive and determination to help individuals with physical impairments live safely in their own homes will live on with the Attendant Care Outreach program.
Click here to learn more about the Attendant Care Outreach program.