'We have to Remind Ourselves to be Mindful'

Updated ERCC Program puts PSWs in Residents’ Shoes

Tanya Aspden couldn’t picture working in any other setting than where she is right now, in the Byron neighbourhood of The Village of Glendale Crossing supporting residents who are living with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

To put the residents at the centre of all efforts and decisions
is the impetus behind the ERCC program.

She says it’s her live-in-the-moment personality, that desire to meet everyone she knows where they are at the time, that helps her make the most of every day in the neighbourhood, and she absolutely loves it.

“I’m kind of like a day-to-day, go with the flow person,” she says. “We have fun with it and whatever residents are feeling, we’re in there with them.”

That’s why she was a perfect choice to be part of the first wave of Schlegel Villages team members to take part in the revitalized Excellence in Resident-Centred Care ERCC program, offered in partnership with Conestoga College and the Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging. As a personal support worker, Tanya is blessed with an inherent understanding of resident-centred philosophies, and now she’ll be part of a training force helping her fellow team members place themselves in the shoes of the residents they serve to gain a new sense of empathy and understanding.

The 12-module course covers everything from oral health to palliative care, all from a person-centred perspective, and the augmented program has more focus on people living with dementia.

Tanya says the hands-on approach to the training and the fact that it’s peer-taught, resonates for people who are experiential learners, and participants walk away with new insights into what it’s like to be on the receiving end of support because of it.

“The main focus is, ‘let’s put ourselves in their shoes,’ ” Tanya says. “We sat there and fed each other, we were given challenges of not being able to use our senses correctly, and it just makes you realize how difficult things are for some people, and how frustrating it must be.”

“We just have to remind ourselves to be mindful of that, and this is a great refresher.”