Telling the True Story of Long-Term Care

PSW’s Letter to Hamilton Spectator shines bright light on Wentworth Heights

By Kristian Partington

Jean Johnson isn’t afraid to say what’s on her mind. She’s as apt to call out something that needs to be corrected as she is to praise the strengths she sees around her, and the Hamilton Spectator often prints her views as Letters to the Editor. Upon the completion of her placement as a Personal Support Worker (PSW) student at the Village of Wentworth Heights, Jean chose to send the newspaper a letter describing what she saw during her five weeks there.

“Through the years, I’ve heard horror stories regarding nursing homes and long-term care facilities,” her letter began. Like so many people who’ve never been connected to long-term care in any way, Jean’s only exposure was the negative news stories that tend to dominate traditional media.

Wentworth Heights, she says, cast those stories aside and she wanted to let people know how she witnessed firsthand the care and dedication that not only the PSWs but every member of the Wentworth Heights team brings to their residents each and every day.

“At Wentworth Heights I was really taken aback by how caring everybody is,” Jean says in a phone interview on a day off from her job providing respite support with the Victorian Order of Nurses (VON). “They were so personable with all of the residents and addressed them like they were family.”

She mentions the neighbourhood concept at the village and how it reminded her of growing up in the Patrick Street area of Hamilton, where the doors were never locked and people truly cared for one another. “The neighbourhood I grew up in, we looked out for each other, it was more like family,” she says.

The same sense of connectedness is spread throughout Wentworth Heights and Jean says she carries the vision of true, authentic relationships with her into the home of everyone she serves through the VON.

She seems to come by it honestly. For five years, Jean was caregiver to a close friend whose health had been in decline. After his family moved closer, she chose to become a PSW so she could give back to her community in a positive way, she says, even though she’s in her late 60s. Age makes no difference to Jean, however, and between the Grand Health Academy where she studied and Wentworth Heights where her eyes were opened to what quality care truly looks like, she is set to excel in her current role.

“It is a breath of fresh air to see at a time when the need is great,” Jean wrote, closing out her letter to The Spectator readership. “We’ve come a long way.”