Jackie Campbell loves people. She would strike up a conversation with anyone receptive to it, and they were drawn to her upbeat, outgoing personality. Her husband, Allan, says that even today – nine years after she moved to The Village of Sandalwood Park in Brampton – there are three cashiers at their local grocery store who ask about Jackie’s well being.
“That gives you an idea about her personality,” Allan says.
As 2009 moved into 2010, an illness doctors first described as minor cognitive impairment began to rapidly progress, however, and that vibrant personality became clouded and much more difficult to see. “By this point, she became completely immobile,” Allan says, “eyes closed most of the time and capable only of limited speech. She required 24-hour care.”
Little changed over the years; her care needs were always met, but there was rarely a flicker of that personality, that is until the late part of 2018 when Jackie’s neighbourhood began testing the concept of dedicated support. Essentially, the pilot program would mean the Elliot neighbourhood team would have consistent assignments where almost exclusively the same team members would support each resident, creating more opportunity for familiar relationships to grow.
Jackie would have the same people greeting her in the morning, caring for her personal needs throughout the day and helping her prepare for bed at the close of the evening. Allan wasn’t sure how this would play out in the beginning, he admits, but he now says it has been a “qualified success.”
The consistency he has seen these past months has had great impact upon Jackie’s well being; she seems more comfortable, more at ease, and the small frown wrinkles that used to line her brow have melted away.
“She just looks completely relaxed now,” Allan says. “I feel like the program has given her back to me, almost. It’s just absolutely wonderful.”
She opens her eyes now, responding to stimulation where there was no response in the past. In early August, a niece came to visit who hadn’t seen Jackie in quite some time, joined by her small dog. She instantly remarked at the difference she saw in her aunt’s face, and Allan took note of the smiles he saw when the dog began to lick Jackie’s hand. He didn’t think it would be worthwhile to bring the little pet because he expected no reaction, he says, but there was one. Their niece came back the next day and again the response was positive.
Allan is convinced these enhancements are a direct result of the connection Jackie has built these past months with the PSWs who consistently support her: Elia and Rona. They understand Jackie; they know her needs and what she responds to. She perks up when Elia enters the room, and Allan is happy to know his wife is so well cared for.
His only worry is that at some point, these assignments will change and her dedicated supporters will move on, yet this can be prepared for. Whoever will step in to fill their role will have large shoes to fill, however, because he’s now seen what dedication can provide. There is chemistry within the neighbourhood, he says, and it is making a difference in everyone’s well being.