NEW GLASGOW — Continuing care assistant is a career that has become more in demand in recent years. With the population median age and the number of elderly citizens increasing with significance, as well as the needs in long term care changing and evolving, continuing care assistant is a career choice that is both sought after and rewarding.
A conversation with three employees of Glen Haven Manor reveals the common themes of passion, dedication, responsibility and a commitment to the residents as well as loyalty and a strong bond with their colleagues. Michelle Lowe, has been a CCA for four years and made a career change to pursue the career of her dreams; Darlene Izzard has been a CCA for 23 years and now CCA liaison, knew from a young age she had a special connection with the elderly, and Rose Best began her career as a CCA two decades ago and has become president of CUPE Local 2330 and a champion for those in her chosen profession of continuing care. All three take pride in the work in continuing care and all gave a resounding, “I love my job!” when asked to explain about their work.
Lowe had a desire to be part of the continuing care world and took a leap of faith in the midst of motherhood and family commitments to live her dream. She says the support from her husband, her daughter who was only 13 when her mom returned to school to take the CCA program from the Nova Scotia Community College, and family was what made this new career work. “I love the caring aspect. I like to know I can make a difference. It is more to me than a job; it is a passion,” she explains.
Lowe works on Whispering Tide, the memory care unit at Glen Haven Manor, and she appreciates the constant professional growth through programs such as the Teepa Snow modules that Glen Haven offers staff. “Residents here always come first. We want them to be comfortable and happy. It is a huge team effort — we rely on each other for support and work very well together. I leave here smiling every day.”
When asked what qualities should a CCA possess Lowe says with confidence, “CCAs need to pay attention to detail, be consistent, understanding, and have patience. If you are caring and compassionate with a good work ethic, the rest falls into place,” she adds.
Izzard says she was always drawn to spending time with the elderly. She recalls her excitement in going to visit her grandparents in Montreal during the summer and with fondness tells of her mother looking after her grandmother. Attributes Izzard sees as essential for CCAs are also a good work ethic, compassion, organizational skills and patience, along with the willingness to grow, an eagerness to learn and a sense of maturity. She describes the CCA role as very fulfilling. “I love the rapport you develop with residents. I love their sense of humour, the teasing, the fun, making them smile and the affection.”
It was a family connection that brought Best to choose the CCA career path. “What drew me here was listening to my aunt, visiting her, wanting to help people, to be part of making lives in their later chapters to have dignity and respect.” She received her credentials at Glen Haven through a program offered by National School of Learning based out of Cape Breton. Best has been in her CUPE role since 2007.
The role of a CCA is hard work, she acknowledges, but also enjoyable. “You feel fulfilled at the end of the day.”
Glen Haven CEO Lisa Smith says, “Glen Haven is encouraged to see a growing interest in our own Continuing Care Assistants program. We are encouraged to see candidates stepping up to the plate to be difference makers.”
Glen Haven Manor resident Velma Baker enjoys a chat with Michelle Lowe, CCA (left) and Darlene Izzard, CCA liaison. October is Continuing Care Month across Nova Scotia. Glen Haven Manor has several initiatives planned throughout the month to celebrate and recognize staff for their contributions. The 2019 Continuing Care Month campaign is a joint initiative of the Continuing Care Association of Nova Scotia, Health Association Nova Scotia, and the Nursing Homes of Nova Scotia Association. (Photo courtesy of Kimberly Dickson)