Daniela Vrabie vividly recalls the moment she made a promise to herself to find a way to help transform the life of a resident within the long-term care system.
As coordinator of the SAPA program at Jewish Eldercare Centre, Ms. Vrabie had just been introduced to David, a man in his 50s pegged as having a ‘behaviour problem’. Since the age of five, David had been bounced around various institutions due to an intellectual disability. His public curator made an application for long-term care on David’s behalf, and Ms. Vrabie knew that her team at Jewish Eldercare could make an important difference in the quality of his life.
As David had no family members to care for him, Ms. Vrabie placed him on the Hope 4 unit of Jewish Eldercare’s Hope pavilion, where she knew the team, led by Head Nurse Margarette Vertus, would embrace him.
“This is Jewish Eldercare—our approach is to create a sense of family,” says Ms. Vrabie. “David had been labeled ‘difficult’ all too often in the past. If we empower our staff, they will empower the residents. From nursing staff to housekeeping, and from PABs to companions, everyone came together to give him a home.”
Ms. Vertus knows that David is often thirsty, so makes sure to always bring him a double serving of water. Social Worker Gloria Capaz, meanwhile, works closely with his public curator to arrange new clothing, haircuts and foot care when needed. For their part, the Jewish Eldercare Auxiliary generously provides the funding for a companion, who spends quality time with David four times a week.
“We always strive to see past a medical diagnosis,” concludes Ms. Capaz. “We believe in fostering potential, so that we can bring out the best in our residents.”
Under the guidance of Ms. Vertus and her team, David has made significant strides in the 18 months he has been at JEC. Previously withdrawn, he with the staff who care for him. Instead of averting his eyes, he now makes eye contact with his caregivers. He rarely exhibits signs of frustration any longer because he has found non-verbal ways of communicating his needs to an attentive team. David even developed a greater autonomy and feeds himself, ever since the Hope 4 team learned of his sweet tooth and began bringing him home-baked treats.
Ms. Vrabie’s commitment to herself, to her team, and, most importantly to David, was fulfilled because she said she would—and she did!
Daniela Vrabie was inspired by Because I Said I Would, a movement that motivates people to make and keep their promises, which she learned about through patient-centred organization Planetree. Plans are in the works to share Because I Said I Would with staff at Maimonides and Jewish Eldercare. For more information, visit becauseisaidiwould.com.