"I started off as a two-pound, 10-ounce preemie, in the days when they told parents they couldn't do anything for them but take them home, so I ended up on the oven door, in woollen clothes in June.”

Sitting comfortably in her grey armchair, surrounded by mementos from her long life—a white, well-worn Bible, yellowing photos of children and grandchildren, a green Roughriders flag—June McFadden smiles as she shares her story.

“My dad had read somewhere that ripe bananas were good for preemies, so they fed me ripe bananas, and by the time I was a year old, I was regular weight. And now look at me!” She laughs. “I am very fortunate to still be here, and I'm happy.”

A hairdresser, who comes in five days a week, gives McFadden a new look A hairdresser, who comes in five days a week, gives McFadden a new look

Since 2012, McFadden has been a resident at the William Booth Special Care Home in Regina, in the long-term care wing. Before coming to the home, she had a small stroke on her left side which, when combined with her bad back, meant special care was a necessity.

Yet at the home, such challenges do not define her. Outside McFadden's door, there's a hand-written sign letting staff and visitors know that she is a former teacher, a minister's wife and the mother of four children. It's small touches like this that demonstrate the home's commitment to engaging with each resident as a whole person, with spiritual and psycho-social, as well as physical, needs.

“We provide care and treatment, but that's not the main focus,” explains Ivy Scobie, executive director. “I always tell our new staff, 'You'll never go wrong if you remember this: You are working in the resident's home. They are not living in your workplace.' That's our philosophy of care.”

Improving Quality of Life
When the William Booth Special Care Home opened in 1966, it provided only long-term care. But since then, it has undergone several expansions, growing to 53 long-term care beds, 10 hospice beds, 18 convalescent beds, a short-term respite program and a popular day program, which operates seven days a week and serves 100 clients.

As the home has grown, so, too, has Canada's aging population. In 2011, 15 percent of Canadians were 65 years or older, and this population is expected to double by 2036. In Regina, the home is already in high demand, with a three-year waiting list for long-term care. The hospice, with its 10 beds, admits 250 residents each year. All programs combined, the home serves 500 people each year.

“We're the top home choice in Regina,” notes Scobie. After a tour of the facility, it's not hard to see why.

Ivy Scobie, Val Linder and Mjr Joanne Binner, former chaplain, share a moment together in one of the home's lounges Ivy Scobie, Val Linder and Mjr Joanne Binner, former chaplain, share a moment together in one of the home's lounges

The first thing Val Linder noticed when she came to the home two years ago for its day program was that it had a clean smell, unlike other care centres she had visited. “As soon as I walked in the door I knew I'd like it,” she says. “The staff were so nice and friendly. And they're always joking around, which is really good.”

Attending the day program three days a week has transformed Linder's quality of life, which had declined significantly after she had a stroke three years ago. Partially paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair, Linder became depressed.

“The stroke changed everything,” says the former office manager. “I was very independent. I never had to ask anybody for anything. But now I can't wash myself, I have to have somebody to help me dress. I started to wonder, What good am I? I can't do anything for myself. It's just devastating.”

But since she started coming to the home, all that has changed.

“I feel great because I'm with other people,” she says. “We joke and laugh together.”

Since joining the program, she's participated in a variety of activities, from baking to painting, but Linder's favourite activity is the daily exercises which, along with the help of the staff, have greatly improved her mobility.

“If the staff had time, they helped me walk,” she says. “Because of that, I can walk a bit now, with a cane.”

More than improving her day-to-day life, the staff's assistance helped her fulfil her son's request that she walk him down the aisle when he got married.

“They worked and worked with me so that I could do that,” she shares. “My son was amazed.”

A Resident-Centred Approach
Though long-term care and the adult day support program are separate programs, they share many activities.

“It helps the people who are in long-term care to know that they're still part of the community, because they look for their friend coming in,” says Scobie. “And the people in the day program don't see a long-term care facility as a bad place to be when they need it, so it's good for both of them.”

“We follow a therapeutic model, so we develop programs to meet cognitive, physical, social, emotional and spiritual needs,” explains Linda Ostryzniuk, program co-ordinator. “We focus on quality of life, figuring out what's meaningful and purposeful for residents.”

The home offers programs that encourage physical activity, such as Zumba and floor curling, in the mornings, when participants are at the peak of their energy. In the afternoons, it offers smaller-group programs, such as games and crafts, with a cognitive component.

Residents and day-program participants join in a Zumba class Residents and day-program participants join in a Zumba class

“I believe that all the residents are entitled to fair and equitable recreation, not dependent on their level of function,” she says. “Our approach is resident-centred—it's all about the residents. So we try to develop programs to meet the needs of everyone.”

Being able to run a large variety of programs reflects the amount of support the home receives from the community.

“We could never do the programs that we do without the help of our volunteers,” says Ostryzniuk. The home has more than 50 registered volunteers, who come every week, plus 150 to 200 unregistered volunteers who put on events such as dog shows and musical presentations.

Caring for the Soul
As a Salvation Army facility, one of the home's most important programs is spiritual care.

“We have chapel every day—not many places in Canada do,” says Scobie. “We have a full-time chaplain, too, and a chaplain for the hospice. And when the chaplain's not here, the staff step in and do the devotions. You wouldn't find that in another health-care facility.”

In addition to chapel and chaplain-led Bible studies, the home also has clergy from other denominations, such as Lutheran and Roman Catholic, come in and conduct services.

“The spiritual care here is terrific,” says McFadden, who attends chapel daily. “It's a lot of help in our last years to have that opportunity to renew our spiritual life.

“I'm so grateful that I'm in a place like this,” McFadden continues. “A loving, caring, clean, healthy, spiritually good atmosphere—you can't ask for much more.”

Volunteers treat the care home's residents to a dog show Volunteers treat the care home's residents to a dog show

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