12 years ago, Noreen Peters married the love of her life, Jim.
“He’s a fun loving guy, he’s a joker and he has a great sense of humor,” smiled Noreen.
“He promised me I would never be bored.”
Jim kept that promise.
But not in the way the couple imagined.
In 2014, Jim was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia.
“I finally found someone who loves me unconditionally and he’s going to disappear,” Noreen said holding back tears.
Jim is now 81-years-old.
The doting wife cared for him full-time and up until recently, she was still working.
“He wasn’t safe to stay at home by himself, but I needed to work,” Noreen explained.
That’s when she learned about Providence Care’s Adult Day program.
Located within the Hildegarde Centre at Providence Manor, it provides quality respite care for adults living with dementia, Alzheimer’s disease or physical disabilities.
Jim began coming to the program in February 2018.
“He started one day a week, but he wanted to know why I was working and he wasn’t,” the caregiver explained.
“He was retired when I met him, but he said ‘no I’m not retired’. I said ‘OK let me find you job’, so I found him a ‘job’ at the Adult Day program.”
Jim now goes to ‘work’ five days a week.
“He spends a lot of time in my office, cleans and helps me out,” said Beth Bruce, Adult Day Coordinator.
“The biggest thing is to allow clients to live in the moment, in their reality. You can’t tell them what to do. You have to figure out where they are in their life.”
“My husband needs to see me all the time, but this is one place he agrees to go without me,” added Noreen.
“I was 24/7 for five years, but I couldn’t do it anymore. I needed some me time. I know he is safe here and I know he’s entertained.”
The Adult Day team includes personal support workers, a registered practical nurse, recreational and administrative staff, as well as volunteers.
The program serves up to 28 clients a day.
They range in age from as young as 50-years-old to 102.
From April 2018 to March 2019, the program served 114 clients with a total of 5,088 visits.
That’s an average of 424 visits a month.
“People gather, socialize, take part in games or physical activities, or get care, like have a bath or get their nails cut,” explained Bruce.
“It’s respite for caregivers but we also want to help clients maintain their independence. So if we can keep them stimulated, keep their minds and bodies working, they can stay independent and remain in their own homes longer.”
Activities vary from week to week, but may include trivia and word games, badminton, music, daily exercise, gardening or baking.
“Alzheimer’s and dementia aren’t going away, in fact with this particular population it’s growing,” said Jo-Ann Shotton, Adult Day program Manager.
“Our recreational staff works very hard to create a calendar of activities that touches base with the abilities of our clients while meeting their physical, social and cognitive needs. We have different activities going on at the same time, to keep as many people engaged as possible.”
In March, the Adult Day program extended its hours.
It’s now open Monday to Friday, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Erin Morgan’s mother Carolyn Dukelow has Alzheimer’s.
She attends the program five days a week, and has been a client for about a year.
Morgan says the expanded hours help her family maintain a routine, they can manage.
“My mom is a very gentle, loving and caring person. I care for her full-time at home. She lives with my husband and our children,” Morgan said.
“When the Adult Day program extended its hours, it helped us a lot. I wouldn’t be able to work full time without it, no way. I can bring her before work, and in the evenings I have time to run out and grab groceries, pay a few bills or pickup any medications my mom may need.”
Morgan also uses the Overnight Stay Care service for her mom, a new component of the Adult Day program.
It provides respite care overnight and on weekends.
Caregivers are able to drop off their loved ones at 4:30 p.m. on Fridays and pick them up by 2:30 p.m., Sunday.
“With having the level of security in that building, as many staff as they do and all their supports, I’m at a 100 percent comfort level,” Morgan said.
“They treat my mom like they do their own loved ones. That gives me and my family so much peace of mind.”
And that’s exactly what Sister Mary Hildegarde had in mind when she dreamed up this program back in the 1960s.
She was a member of the Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul, the Founders of Providence Care.
“She was a very dynamic woman and she had great empathy for the families who were taking care of their loved ones at home,” explained Sister Catherine Cannon.
“She would say to all of us and to anyone who would listen that we need a day away program. A program where families can bring their loves ones and they would be treated with the same love, compassion and respect they would get at home.”
Sister Hildegarde never got to see her dream become a reality, but Providence Care never lost sight of her vision.
Her legacy lives on, as the Adult Day program celebrates its 40th anniversary this year.
“She would be so excited, proud and happy. This is her dream fulfilled,” beamed Sister Catherine.
“Her focus and our focus, is our clients and their families,” said Shotton.
“When staff can unmask a smile on a client’s face it makes me so proud. They care from the heart. They want to make a difference in the lives of the clients we serve and their families. They are a team that always comes together and rises to the challenge, to make good things happen.”
“People say we’re their angels looking after them, when they had no hope at home,” added Bruce.
“It’s very rewarding and makes you feel warm inside. It’s nice to know what we’re doing is helping people.”
People like Noreen and Jim Peters.
“It was the best decision I made to have Jim come here,” Noreen exclaimed.
“It’s important to recharge your batteries because you do get worn-out. So as long as Jim is allowed to ‘work’, he’ll be here.”
Click here to learn more about the Adult Day program and its services.