A Diverse Family of Caregivers Grows Stronger with our Internationally-Educated Nurses

The Village of Riverside Glen is a wide-reaching family of residents and team members that extends to the far corners of the world. When the Province of Ontario put the call out for Internationally Educated Nurses (IENs) to meet a demand for healthcare workers that increased immensely because of the COVID-19 crisis, the Riverside Glen family responded.  Frank, Jesica and dietary team member, Carolyn Chow pose during a caregiver's week celebration at Riverside Glen. 

Frank Pallaya has a cousin who works in the Village, while Jesica Christen Defensor has two relatives in the Village. Franks and Jesica are both nurses from The Philippines and both had heard wonderful things about Riverside Glen and Canada as a whole, so they were among many nurses from around the world who took the chance on a new direction in life.

“Canada is my dream come true,” Frank says. “When I was interviewed for this position, I was hoping I would be hired, and I was directly hired.”

Frank began studying to upgrade his training while still in the Philippines, and he has joined a cohort of IENs training through Conestoga College here to get his full nursing credentials. For the time being, he is happy to be a personal support worker at Riverside Glen.

Jesica arrived on December 31, 2022, to begin a new year and a new life in Canada. She had been working for 13 years as a nurse in Saudi Arabia when her aunt shared he opportunities available in Ontario. She had intended to stay in the Middle East for merely two years, but life moves quickly, and she was still there when her son was born in 2021. It was for his future that she chose to pursue the path to Canada; with her husband and son back in the Philippines awaiting clearance to join her, she arrived in the heart of the Canadian winter in service of the residents of Riverside Glen.

Long-term care was new for both Jesica and Frank, but they were both taken by the family atmosphere that greeted them and they quickly fell for the residents and team members.

“I love taking care of these people,” Jesica says. “I have a passion for older people because I was taking care of my grandma for many years, so I’m very familiar with this kind of scenario.”

Frank also has a passion for caregiving and looks forward to practicing as a fully-accredited nurse.

“Ever since I was a child, this was my dream,” Frank says, noting that he grew up with his grandparents and helped support them as they aged. “Being a nurse,” he says, “this is one of the best dreams I could have.”

He is following in the steps of his aunt who has practiced nursing in the U.S. for many years, and he hopes he can make her proud as he follows the progression of his dream.

There is a sense of courage and kindness Frank and Jesica bring to the Village, and they were both welcomed in with open arms, especially from those who share their Filipino roots. It is a large family from all corners of the world at Riverside Glen, and it grows stronger with each new local and global connection.