Stettler’s town council received a delegation from Points West during their Feb. 15 meeting.
Darlene Ballek, the general manager at Points West Stettler, and Lisa Smith, an occupational therapist, attended council to provide an update on the facility amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There’s been some negativity in the community regarding Points West,” said Ballek.
“Social media can be your friend or it can be your foe. It’s not unique for us or our residents.”
Ballek is referring to the staffing issues that have been plaguing the facility, and the province, thanks to the lingering effects of the pandemic and the restriction of staff working at one facility only.
“It’s affected (Alberta Health Services), us, everyone is crying for aides and (licenced practical nurses),” said Ballek.
Ballek informed council that at one point the facility was short 10 of 28 full time aide positions which had caused the staff to occasionally work at reduced service levels to the residents of the facility.
Reduced services would include reducing housekeeping in resident rooms and could include adjusting days residents are bathed depending on staffing demands.
Ballek says that the facility is currently offering a promotion where someone taking their healthcare aide course could get onsite tutoring and be paid while working at the same time they take their training.
“We’re working with home office and doing a media blitz,” said Ballek.
“We’ve applied for foreign workers as well. We’re gradually getting people back.”
While Ballek focused on the operations of the facility, Smith updated council on the facility’s philosophy.
According to Smith, by changing the terminology surrounding the facility the residents are able to feel more at home.
One example of this is the different “units” of Points West are referred to as “villages” to promote a community environment.
Smith says that three “plagues” affect seniors in facilities like Points West.
These plagues are loneliness, boredom and helplessness.
Through the philosophy and staffing at the facility, Points West endeavours to deal with all three plagues through a variety of programming though Smith admits that the pandemic has “caused a lot of kinks” in what they can do.
To combat loneliness, staff are encouraged to visit with the residents and the facility has partnered with schools with “adopt a senior” programs to huge success.
The adopt a senior programs could include students in the area schools taking on a senior and writing them letters or drawing them pictures.
To fight against boredom the recreation program tries to keep things unpredictable with activities for the residents. Activities include games, videos, or other activities that gets the seniors out of their rooms and socializing.
The final plague to fight was that of helplessness.
Smith said to fight helplessness, staff were encouraged to help seniors contribute to the community through a variety of ways.
One resident, according to Smith, would take a checklist and check all the emergency lights everyday, and notify maintenance if any were burnt out. Another would organize games in the village. Yet others even volunteer to help pack the Meals on Wheels kits for the program run out of the facility.
“Points West is really more than the medical care of our residents,” said Smith.
Points West Stettler is one of 27 communities in Western Canada.
To celebrate the successes of the last two years in overcoming the pandemic and helping their residents Points West published a book, a copy of which was gifted to Stettler’s town council at the meeting.