Connie was a Continuing Care Assistant (CCA) in the Philippines for three years before coming to Canada, where she has been a CCA for the past eight years.

For Connie, she ensures that she listens to the needs of the residents and does her best to put a smile on each of their faces. Care plans include Activities of Daily Living (ADL) where she encourages independence as residents are able and appreciates the uniqueness of each resident. For someone with dementia, they may be able to brush their teeth, for example, but they wouldn’t remember to do it by themselves. Others need total care. To be a CCA, Connie says it is crucial to have a compassionate heart.  You must go to work with a positive attitude each day.

There are 54 residents in her facility with varying abilities from full assistance physically to more verbal cuing and guiding. She uses the equipment provided, such as overhead lifts, to provide care safely.

Growing up, Connie knew she either wanted to be a Nun or a Nurse, and she is thrilled to have a job where she can care for other people, as that is her greatest honour. She tried corporate jobs but those just didn’t suit her. Living so far away from her family means that her residents have filled that void and become like family to her.

The impact on COVID has been huge at her facility. Residents still ask for hugs, but the policies in place with this pandemic are to social distance when able. Instead, she offers a hand that gets held, and kind words that make her residents happy. At her facility, it is a right for a resident to not die alone so if there is no family, they hold the residents’ hands and stay with them to provide comfort. While it hurts her heart to see them go, she focuses on the fact that they are no longer in pain and treasures her faith to get her through. That doesn’t mean she doesn’t cry when they go and miss them when they are gone.

A memorable moment was on Valentine’s Day, where she was working on crafts with residents with dementia. A resident who was cognitive asked her why she bothered because none of them would remember doing the craft. Connie responded that it was actually very important to her that they do fun activities because while they may not remember the craft or her name, that moment is special and valuable; as they smiled which meant they had a good moment. The resident then agreed with her.

When asked how her workplace could be improved, Connie explained the need for added staff. Understaffing has plagued health care for years and cohorting (staff only allowed to work in one facility to limit spread of pandemic) meant they lost more valuable staff. With the pandemic, staff need to self-isolate if they have symptoms. That keeps the facility safe but also leaves those present with even fewer staff to assist. While other team members such as RNs and Management assist as they can when they have staff shortages, it can be a heavy day without enough CCAs to support the residents.

When asked how being a CCA in Canada compared to the Philippines, she said Canada had better equipment. Back home, she was rotated to different areas of the hospital regularly, so she had to learn to be a jack of all trades. Here she can settle in one area. She is thrilled to say since her and her family made the decision to come here, she has become a Canadian Citizen.

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