Walk For Alzheimer’s 2016

A week ago today at this time we were tired, sweating buckets, eating water melon & drinking water like it was going to run out. But we were happy. All 140 or so of us who showed up at 10 am ready to walk 5km in 30 degree weather all for a wonderful cause to raise awareness & funds to combat a devastating disease: Alzheimer’s.

My alarm went off at 7:45 am thinking I had enough time to get up, WAKE up and get hyped for the day. Little did I know that my beautiful friend was already here waiting to get pumped with me. Another friend showed up half an hour later & together we pumped ourselves up, tied our laces & put on sunscreen ready to kick Alzheimer’s in the ass.

Well, unfortunately the disease still prevails, with an estimated 747,000 Canadians living with Alzheimer’s since 2007. By 2031, if nothing changes, those numbers are predicted to hit 1.4 million.*

Scary, huh? As a PSW I can’t imagine what my work load will be like. But more importantly, as a HUMAN, I’m worried someone I know will be dealt the horrible blow of a dementia related diagnoses.

I am super super proud to say that our team apswlife raised  $685 for The Alzheimer Society of Perth County, with all proceeds going toward education & research for a cure. Over all Stratford raised over $20,000 & I cannot thank you enough.

Thank you to those who could support financially. Thank you to those who could support emotionally & spread the word. A huge, HUGE thank you to my beautiful friends Gloria & Barb who made the trek out here just to walk with me. I can’t ask for better friends.

Can’t wait for next year!

*For more information, please visit alzheimer.ca

12 More Days!

Good Morning!
I don’t know about you, but I was thrilled to wake up this morning and see SUNSHINE! Yesterday we had wee snowflakes falling down here in Stratford. Pardon me? Unacceptable! I’ll be paying close attention the weather now. Not because I am desperate to always wear sandals – which I am – but mainly because in just 12 days time team apswlife will be walking to raise awareness for Alzhiemer’s Disease! May 28th is the magical day for the Stratford walk and I am so so pumped!

To date, our team has raised $685, that’s $185 more than I had hoped to raise! Not only that, but our team is #2 in raising the most funds in Perth County! Thank you! I am so so grateful to everyone who has been able to support us – whether it be financially, emotionally, morally or in good friendship. Thank you.

In other news, work has been going very well. I have really taken to my new role as a personal support worker in home care. I still remember not too long ago how I was dreading it and wishing I could do anything but. Now I’m content. I adore my clientèle. I love not ever having to work the midnight shift again. Hell, I love not having to work past 10pm!

My mind has been all over the place lately with blog post ideas, so as soon as I can sort those out I’ll be right back here typing away. Now I must go fetch some coffee.

Hope you all have a great day!

(To donate to team apswlife, please click here.)

Update On Life. Sort Of.

Wooooah! It’s been awhile, eh’? Sorry, but I WORK.
No, I’m not yelling at you, it’s not your fault. It’s no one’s fault really, but some days are more frustrating than others. I’m sure you can relate.
So you can imagine that when ever I come across a reading or hear anyone say something along the lines of “well, it’s not like you’re a nurse or anything, you’re ONLY a PSW” it just creams my corn.
Only? You’re right. Why don’t you show me how it’s done. My morning consisted of working with a woman with a brain tumour therefore dealing with several seizures. My client after her had severe Cerebral Palsy. #3 is a woman who I’m convinced hates me because she ALWAYS refuses care and yells at me in her native tongue and tries to hit me – and SUCCEEDED the other day might I add. And lastly – at least for the morning – is a gentleman I very much enjoy visiting and working with except when he’s on the verge of a Diabetic coma & you’re like -_-
So yeah. I’m ONLY a PSW.
Take a look at my buddy PSWHQ’s page here & take a read on the job description of a PSW.

Phew. HAD to get that out.

Secondly, it’s LESS than a month until my team aptly titled apswlife walks for The Alzheimer’s Society to raise awareness and funds to fight Alzheimers! I’m very excited about this & so so thrilled with all the support we’ve been getting to date. Still, if you’d like to support our team, take a looksy over here to donate! Just search for our team, apswlife.

And thirdly, I’m off this weekend so insert happy dance here! 🙂


Last night the Alzheimer Society of Toronto (@AlzToronto) hosted a workshop at their office led by a social worker & entitled Finding Humour & Joy In Caregiving. And because I am a social media NUT – seriously – I decided to join in on their live Twitter chat using the hashtag #FindingJoy. Through out the hour they made some very good points which I would like to share & elaborate on. As a PSW, I’ve come across so many varying degrees on dementia that the list would take eons to type. Just like the individuals they affect, the disease is extremely unique and has personalities of it’s own. I’ve found that getting to know your client & the basic facts of dementia and what it is can go a long way in helping one to cope with caring.

To look at the lighter side of caregiving, we should treat the experience as a gift, a chance to improve life for our family

I don’t look at being a PSW as anything LESS than a gift. I feel so privileged to help these people & their families, in turn learning and improving on my skills as a caregiver.

To keep positive, stay realistic about your abilities as a caregiver & seek support to help with your tasks.

Guys. We’re not magic makers. We can’t snap our fingers to make something happen. We are one person. Sometimes a group of persons and there is only SO MUCH we can do at one time. It isn’t worth it to stress yourself out. The person you are caring for won’t benefit nor will you. One step at a time.

To make caregiving easier, try to understand the meaning behind the behaviour of someone with dementia to see what they need.

At this point in the game, most dementia patients aren’t capable of telling you with logical conversation how they’re feeling. They’re not yelling to purposely piss you off. If someone with dementia spits out their food, they’re not doing it with malicious intent (yes, I’ve actually heard people speak like this). Maybe they aren’t hungry anymore. Maybe they don’t LIKE it. Pay attention to their behaviours to learn what they mean.

Humor can reduce the embarrassment of mistakes and awkward moments for a person with dementia.

This was one of my favourite Tweets. Someone with dementia – especially those who are still somewhat cognitively aware of what is going on – tend to feel embarrassed of their memory loss or bladder control. Don’t emphasize this. They know what it is. They don’t need YOU to point it out. If they mention it to you, act like it’s no big deal. Perhaps suggest that this has happened to you so that they can have something to relate to. Sounds silly, but it works. As a 29 year old I can’t tell you how many bladder problems I’ve been able to “relate” to.

Follow me on Twitter @apswlife
To learn more about workshops and other programs offered by the Alzheimer Society Of Toronto, follow them on Twitter @AlzToronto

Ailments of a PSW


Alzheimer’s diseaseEarly onset dementiaMild Cognitive ImpairmentVascular dementiaMixed dementiaFrontotemporal dementiaLewy body dementiaCreutzfeldt-Jakob diseaseDown syndrome (www.Alzheimer.ca)

Parkinson’s Disease
C. Diff (Clostridium Difficile)
The Flu
Bi-Polar Disorder
Incontinence Problems
Palliative Care
Aphasia & Disphagia
Cardiovascular Disease

And of course, your general assholes.

Yep. PSWS definitely don’t need to be regulated.
That was sarcasm.

Follow the conversation on Twitter at @apswlife #regulationforPSWS

PSW Forum 2015

On Thursday May 14th, The Alzheimer Society of Toronto held their 10th Annual PSW Forum. It was a full day of wonderful learning opportunities & a chance to bond with fellow PSWs.

I loved it.

The forum was sponsored by Trish & Dan Andreae whose parents suffered from dementia. Their kind words meant a lot to all 200 PSWS in the room, and they really hit home when Dan said “PSWs are the backbone of the healthcare system”, something I’ve been saying for quite a while now. It’s nice to hear it from other’s, especially those who don’t work in the field. It’s nice to feel appreciated. Cathy Barrick, The Alzheimer’s Society CEO also nailed it when she said that “PSWS have the hardest job EVER”. Yeah, I’m beginning to think we do.

There were several very good presentations, but there were a few that stuck out to me that I found to be most exceptional & an invaluable learning experience.

I sat in on a mini-seminar entitled Introduction to Palliative Care presented by Dianna Drascic, MScN, ACNP. “With over 25 years of experience as a palliative care clinician, educator & researcher Dianna has worked in almost all venues of palliative healthcare delivery, from the street to the ICU”.
Her approach and direction with this topic was very useful. Instead of focusing on actually taking care of a palliative care client – which of course can be a course all in itself – Dianna focused on the caregiver, and what palliative care and dying means to us. Is there a right time to talk about dying? How are we going to die? Where are we going to die? The benefits of talking about dying:
This was just the beginning & suffice to say a lot of us were extremely uncomfortable. I loved how she focused on the normalcy of being uncomfortable. Of the inevitable fact that at some point or another we’re all going to die. I’m not the only one who imagines the ideal death: asleep in a warm bed. The reality is that a good portion of us won’t experience this, but instead will suffer illness which is WHY talking about death & the very real probability of undergoing palliative care is essential. I fully intend to look into more seminars regarding palliative care & I encourage to you to do the same. Knowledge is power, even when unpleasant.

Bethany Kopel is a Coordinator for the Centre for Behaviour Health Sciences (CBHS) & is a board certified behaviour analyst (BCBA). Her presentation on challenging behaviour & ways to deal with it was fabulous. With enthusiasm she engaged the audience when explaining how we the PSW can affect positive behaviour change every day with our clients as well as how to observe and properly track responsive behaviours in an objective way by utilizing the proper skills and strategies. I’m hoping she’ll be interested in speaking at OPSWA’s 3rd Annual Conference next year (note to self – get in contact with Bethany!)

It was a long day. An exhausting day. But well worth it.

The Alzheimer Society of Toronto offers seminars both online and in person through out the year on several courses relating to dementia and the PSW. I intend to update my Education page with links to the types of programs they offer. Keep an eye out for amazing opportunities!

The Future Of The Personal Support Worker

Do we have a future? I think we do. Our profession is constantly taking on more responsibilities delegated to us by RPNs & RNs. The population is aging & will always continue to age and with that inevitably comes illness. Frankly, the job description of a personal support worker isn’t a nice one: we change incontinence garments worn by our clients; we help those who can’t feed themselves by feeding them (sometimes resulting in said meal being spit back to us) and we deal with verbal & sometimes physical abuse from those with (and sometimes without) dementia, just to name a few. So suffice to say people aren’t exactly lining up out the door for our jobs.

Wait. Or are they? Believe it or not they are. PSW programs are becoming more popular and with that the influx of trained workers is constantly increasing. The problem is this: NO ONE is hiring at the rate of PSWs graduating. PSWS are NEEDED but the jobs for us aren’t necessarily there waiting. We’re often hired on a casual or part-time basis to start. As has been painfully stated before, the ratio of PSW to resident is severely disproportionate.

So where do we stand? What’s coming for us?

Come to our conference on April 25th for the details. OPSWA’s President & Founder Miranda Ferrier will be talking about the future of PSWs.

April 25th, Cambridge Hotel & Conference Center
$75 for the entire day including lunch!

For details, please go to opswa.com or check out my previous update here.

ALSO, don’t forget to tune into W5 this Saturday on CTV to see Miranda and OPSWA talk about abuse in LTC.

The Countdown Is On!

If you’re not already aware, apswlife has become an official branch of OPSWA – The Ontario Personal Support Worker Association – as their PSW Advocacy go-to. I have to say I’m thrilled for apswlife‘s new journey & I can’t wait to share more experiences & stand up for what I most believe in – US, THE PSW! We’re an important part of the healthcare system & it’s about darn time that we’re noticed. Am I right? So email me & tell me what’s on your mind. What is important to YOU, the PSW? snucci@opswa.com OR chat me up on Twitter @apswlife

A big part of advocacy is coming together as a whole and showing the world that we are a force to be reckoned with! So won’t you join me & many other of your peers at OPSWA’s 2nd Annual Conference happening on April 25th in Cambridge, ON.

Here’s the not so secret, yet extremely awesome activities that we’ll have going on through out the day! (If you look closely, you might notice a certain blogger will be there and presenting as well!)

Registration and Breakfast 8:00 am – 9:00 am
Opening Speakers 9:00 am – 9:30 am

Kathryn McGarry – MPP of Cambridge, Ontario – Opening Remarks
Dr. Catherine Brookman – speaks to the Value of the PSW Voice –Directing Home and
Community Care Now and in the Future

Featured Speakers:

Toronto Rehab 9:30 am – 10:30 am
PSWs and Self Care/Safety
Tilak Dutta

MORNING BREAK 10:30 am – 11:00 am

Wellington Hospice 11:00 am – 12:00 noon
PSWs in Palliative Care
Kathleen Scott PSW
Meaghan Scowcroft PSW

LUNCH BREAK 12:45 pm – 12:45 pm

A PSW Life 12:45 pm – 1:15 pm
Stefanie Nucci PSW

The Realities of the future of the PSW- 1:15 pm — 1:45 pm
Miranda Ferrier, President

AFTERNOON BREAK 1:45 pm – 2:15 pm

Charting, who is it really for? 2:15 pm – 3:15 pm
Louise Lachowskyj RN

Closing Remarks 3:15 pm – 4:00 pm
Miranda Ferrier PSW

The Montessori Way

I am excited. Ha, well, I’m almost ALWAYS excited when I write in here because I LOVE spreading the word of great opportunities in apswlife!
In March I am taking a 6 hour Montessori Approach To Dementia Course in Toronto curtosy of PEAK College. These guys are something else. After meeting with with them several times I have some serious excitement jitters. Their approach to dealing with Dementia is unlike anything I have seen before and as a PSW I am super super hyped to have the opportunity to take this course.
Wanna join me? Seriously. Do you? IF I were you I would. For $150 you get an amazing experience & opportunity. AND if you’re an OPSWA PSW – you get another $25 off!

Here’s the deal:

Course Date: March 1st Time: 2pm-7pm Where: PEAK College, Sheppard Ave. Toronto

Montessori Implementation Workshop Outline
All About Dementia
– Understanding the different types of dementia and their characteristics.
– The effects of dementia
– Risk factors
-Executive Functioning. What it is and understanding its important relevance when caring
for a person with dementia.
– About Alzheimer’s, Vascular Dementia, Lewy Body dementia and Frontal Temporal

A Challenging Job
– Address the challenges in the PSWs daily job while working with residents that have dementia.
– Looking at long term care and its current approach to dementia
– Paint a better looking picture for PSWs caring for resident’s with dementia

– Discuss the behaviors including aggression that resident’s display
-Explore the reasons for the behaviors
– Become enlightened by the reasons for the behaviors

Long Term Memory System
– Learn how the memory system works in the human brain
-Understand the differences in the brain’s memory system
– Montessori Approach and the connection to the brain’s memory system

Why Montessori?
– Learn how the original methods where developed and why
– The impacts Montessori had had in our world and how it relates to all attending the workshop
– Montessori Benefits
– Humans and the need for a sense of accomplishment and contribution
– Finding the person behind the dementia
– Theory of the Montessori Approach when caring for a person with dementia
– The resident and the 8 Montessori keys
– Explore various activities in all areas of life.
– Understand how Montessori activities engage a person and the importance of these simple
– See the inspiring Montessori successes in LTC, Retirement Homes and Hospitals
– Using your personal talents in your job
– Improve the quality of resident care using Montessori

The Prepared Environment
– Understand the need for a prepared environment for all human beings. Even more so for a
person with dementia.
– Complete step by step instructions on how to prepare the environment for resident with
dementia in any setting.
– Step by step on how to approach a resident with dementia and the appropriate conduct for such
How to Become a Facilitator
– Understand the role of a facilitator
– Making your job a lot easier using Montessori
– Facilitating your residents when there are no programs.
– Avoiding behaviors before they happen
– Deescalating behaviors in residents
– A look at roles and routines – easy access
– Engaging multiple residents at one time
– Adult talk, adult activity
– The use of tactile objects to engage a person with dementia and the brilliance behind it.

Physical Resident Care Using Montessori
– A step by step instruction on the various types of care needs for residents with dementia
including bathing, toileting, feeding, dressing and oral hygiene
-The use of visual cues
– Proper respect and conduct when physically caring for a resident with dementia
– Care cards – a successful way to address and engage a resident in physical care
– Recognizable cues for residents. What works and what doesn’t
– Encouraging independence. Learn all the tricks
– The dining room experience

If you’re interested in signing up for this amazing course, email me snucci@opswa.com

I’ll be there & I CANNOT wait to to do this.
Tell your friends.

Walk For Memories

Yesterday was the Alzheimer Society’s Walk For Memories in Cambridge, Ontario & for the first time in my life I took part. I was excited not only because this was for a cause I believe in but because it was my first walk for anything. A lot of people were there for a cold Sunday night – luckily the entire event took place in doors. Our team was OPSWA – obviously – and Miranda & I were there representing our PSWs in stride.

Donations are still being accepted until March 31st so if you have some spare dollars… well, I won’t tell you what to do with it. But here’s the website anyway http://www.walkformemories.ca (Our Team name is OPSWA) 🙂