I have had the privilege of working alongside Seniors, their families and significant others for about 30 years. Relationships matter at CMHA. I appreciate the value we place on learning from people with lived experience, our staff and community partners; and that we continually try to improve the quality of services and programs we provide to the community.
1. What is involved in your role?
I am responsible for the leadership of the Specialized Geriatric Outreach Mental Health Program at CMHAWW. I also work with Jody Weiler who is our Vulnerable Seniors Lead for Waterloo Wellington to provide oversight to our Intensive Geriatric Service Worker Program. Additionally, CMHA partners with St. Joseph’s Health Centre Guelph and Waterloo Wellington LHIN Home and Community Care for Geriatric Medicine so part of my role is also to ensure smooth transitions for people we support and their families who require both geriatric medicine and geriatric mental health services. In 2013, we established a regional SGS Clinical Intake program whereby all specialized geriatric referrals coming from across Waterloo Wellington are centralized to reduce duplication and to help ensure that seniors are getting to the best service that meets their needs. My role also includes providing clinical consultation and supervision to that program as well as an operational lead role with Specialized Geriatric Services across Waterloo Wellington
2. Why did you become involved in the seniors mental health field?
Growing up I was very close to my paternal grandmother. She was a very influential person in my life and an amazing mentor having graduated from law in 1921 and was the first woman to open a solo practice in Cambridge. As I got older, I learned that she had suffered from depression since about her mid-50s and was admitted to Homewood for a period of time for treatment. Later in her life she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease and I became a big part of her care team. When it was time for me to consider graduate school there was no question that I wanted to specialize in Seniors.
3. What brought you to CMHA?
Having worked for a number of other agencies during my career, I had heard a lot of good things about CMHA. I really like that CMHA is a values based organization. Relationships matter at CMHA. I appreciate the value we place on learning from people with lived experience, our staff and community partners; and that we continually try to improve the quality of services and programs we provide to the community.
4. Have you always worked in mental health?
I have had the privilege of working alongside Seniors, their families and significant others for about 30 years. I started my career in Seniors supporting families caring for relatives with dementia and other related neurocognitive disorders in an Adult Day Program setting. Over time and in working with a number of organizations I expanded my work and clinical role to include Seniors with addictions and mental health issues in both Long Term Care and in community. I have been with CMHA for a little over 17 years and in a leadership role for over 20 years.
5. How do you support seniors at CMHA?
We have a great collaborative team in our Seniors programs at CMHA. We work closely with Seniors, their families and/or friends, their family physician and other service providers who are involved in their lives. We work together as one team to develop care plans to optimize Seniors’s functioning and quality of life and address Seniors goals or concerns – this can include assessing risk and safety planning, developing interventions to maintain wellness, consultation with specialists like a Geriatrician or Geriatric Psychiatrist, providing education and support around a diagnosis and walking with Seniors to link them to appropriate groups and community services. Team members work closely with the senior’s support network and we strive to promote independence and self-directed care.
6. What are you proud of during your time at CMHA?
Quality of relationships matter at CMHA. We try very hard to live our values. In my experience with CMHA, no matter what role in the organization we find ourselves working in; program/service areas, support, finance, human resources, administration, facilities – we are all trying ‘to walk the talk’.
If you are in crisis or wish to discuss whether CMHA has the right service for you, call Here 24/7: 1-844-437-3247 (HERE 247).
Follow the ‘Faces of CMHA’ series for a glimpse into the lives of the people who spend each day at the Canadian Mental Health Association Waterloo Wellington working to inspire and support people to achieve the quality of life they desire. Join our team, click here to view current employment opportunities at CMHA WW.