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

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

Hm. Now What?

JUST INCASE PSWs of Ontario didn’t hear the news, I’ll share it with you: Deb Matthews, the Minister of Health has raised the wages of all public home care workers from $12.50 to $16 an hour over 2 years. Uhm, wow?

As with every politician, they have no problem delivering great news but seem to conveniently forget to explain HOW this will be done. I’m curious. A LOT curious as this is a HUGE increase in such little time.

Secondly, I work in long term care. This increase doesn’t apply to me. Personally, I don’t care for a wage increase. What I want to see is MORE FULL TIME PSWs in LTC facilities which would decrease the over all workload. Make sense? Then you wouldn’t NEED to increase our pay as the work load would finally be equal to what we earn. But government isn’t always that smart.

What I did enjoy was the over all praise that the Minister of Health & Finance had to say about PSWs as a whole. For too long we have been ignored and not given the proper respect we deserve. It was nice to hear words of kindness from people who, generally speaking, have no idea what we do. Thank you for taking the time to get to know us and paying attention to our profession. As a whole, PSWs work extremely hard to take care of loved ones whether it be in the community or facility based. We’re on the front line – which makes it sound so militant like but I don’t know how else to put it – and we always will be.

For more details, go here:

The First Annual OPSWA Conference!


I arrived at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto at around 7am. The conference wasn’t to start until 9am but I wanted to be early. I had spoken to Miranda previously in the week and I was anxious to meet her in person prior to the conference starting as I knew that once everything got underway she would be very busy.
On Saturday, April 26th the first ever OPSWA – Ontario Personal Support Worker Association – Conference took place with over 50 PSWs in attendance. Vendors such as the OLTCA – Ontario Long Term Care Association – and Preferred Healthcare Services were in attendance as well, there to discuss EVERYTHING PSW.
I was home. I have never felt more welcome and at home with a group of strangers before in my life. Even though I had never met any of these people before, I felt as though I got them. We understood each other. Every single one of us is a PSW who works in long term care or home care and we understand without having to explain ourselves all the difficulties and tribulations that we face on a daily basis in the work place. This was a conference of learning and coming together as a whole to respect the personal support worker as a necessary member of the healthcare world.

I’m the newbie to OPSWA. I am very happy to be a part of this wonderful organization as their social media and blogger guru. Hello, I get to Facebook, Twitter and blog about PSWs and get recognition and pay for it? Count me in! OPSWA would not be in existence without Miranda Ferrier, a wonderful and dedicated individual who founded the organization. This organization has been a necessity in getting PSWs on the map in Ontario, in getting us the recognition we deserve for all that we do in healthcare. A big shout out as well to Jennifer Giroux, OPSWA’s CEO and Jessica Maga, OPSWA’s PR. All wonderful women that I couldn’t have been happier to have met and I cannot wait to work together with you all at OPSWA!

So, now that I’ve hyped you all up into wanting to go to next year’s conference, how about I tell you what went on this year? You’ve been warned, your excitement level may hit an ultimate high.

First on the docket was Tilak Dutta of the Toronto Rehab Institute. PSWs in attendance received some in depth knowledge about proper lifting techniques so that both us AND the residents we help are safe and transferred properly. What really impressed me was a mechanism used to help with transferring a resident into a sling for a mechanical lift. As a PSW, I’m sure we can all relate to the difficulties of having to turn a resident over several times in order to get the sling on correctly. This can take up time and be uncomfortable for the resident. This device safely inserts balloon-like tubes underneath a person while laying in bed with the use of air to inflate it once on the other side. Picture someone laying on a water noodle – but softer. This can be done with out having to rotate your resident side to side which saves copious amounts of time and lessens the probability of a potential accident. I enjoyed this seminar very much.

At around 10am Sgt. John Keating of the Durham Regional Police took to the stage to address Senior Abuse in LTC. I cringed a lot when listening to some of the stories he told us as I CANNOT fathom doing anything like this to my residents. However, it is very important that PSWs hear this because IT HAPPENS and the more knowledge we have, the more power we have to put an end to it. Sgt. Keating presented his points in a manner that kept us interested and wanting more. He was funny, interactive and most importantly passionate about his cause. PSWs NEED support just like our residents do and it was absolutely fantastic to hear speakers who were just as passionate as we are about what we do. Thank you, Sgt. Keating.

After our break – because let’s face it, even though we’re enthused and excited, we’re also antsy for washroom breaks and coffee! – we were very privileged to hear information from our key note panel, featuring Sue VanderBent – CEO of the Ontario Home Care Association, Candace Chartier – CEO of the Ontario Long Term Care Association & Gilbert Sharpe – Partner, Fasken Martineau. All three panellists introduced themselves and what it is they did in their positions. They also took questions from the audience regarding the future of PSWs in healthcare and their responses were very encouraging.

My favourite part of the conference – and I’m not making a pathetic attempt to kiss butt, I swear – was when Miranda Ferrier, the President and Founder of OPSWA took to the stage to talk about Professionalism in the Workforce. PSWs are NOT just diaper changers and feeders. That is an insult to our profession. We are so much more than that, and to get that point across it is absolutely imperative that we behave professionally in the work place when it comes to not only our residents, but our co-workers, employers and anyone else we come across. When going for interviews – do NOT dress in booty shorts. When Miranda mentioned that she had seen someone do this, my jaw dropped. Seriously? You are an important character in the world of healthcare – ACT LIKE IT! Miranda got these points across very well. The crowd was excited, engaged and if truth be told – maybe a little scared. I think everyone took a long look at themselves and their careers. Myself included. We could all benefit from a little reminder, right?

Louise Lachowskyj of Right At Home Canada and a very respected RN in the field spoke to us about Humour In Palliative Care. Did you have to re-read that? Yes, there is humour in palliative care and in all aspects of the healthcare field. Remember, we are working with people – people who have personalities, feelings and even a sense of humour. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, your greatest asset is getting to know your clients and residents. This will not only help with care, but getting to know them as a person will help them feel good about themselves as well, no matter the situation they are in. Just because someone is dying doesn’t mean they won’t find a joke funny. It doesn’t mean they won’t laugh at you if you make a fool of yourself. Louise did a fabulous job of pointing all of this out to us with stories from her own experiences. Her enthusiasm really had us paying attention and I think we all learned a lot from her.

Art Mathews of Preferred Health & Rod Piukkala, VP of Backcheck also spoke to the crowd. Their presentations informed us of various courses PSWs can take to further their careers and the importance of getting a police background check, something almost all employers require from their PSWs.

If all that wasn’t exciting enough – are you convinced yet? You should be! – we also had a very special surprise visitor join us. Deb Matthews, the Health Minister of Ontario came and had some extremely lovely words to say about OPSWA and all PSWs. Her words were uplifting, encouraging and full of genuine kindness and thanks for all that we do. To have the Minister of Health on our side is SO HUGE I can’t think of words to further describe it. Tomorrow – Tuesday, April 29th – she will be making a huge announcement which I am happy to say I will be in attendance for with OPSWA. Can we all say excitement overload?

So. Are you convinced yet? Will you fellow PSWs be in attendance for next year’s conference? I know I will be. This weekend was not only extremely informative but so much fun I think I’m still recovering from it all. I should also mention that after the conference, OPSWA held it’s PSW Appreciation Night at the Monarch Pub located at the Eaton Chelsea Hotel in Toronto. Yes, there was wine involved and yes, there was dancing. That’s all I’m going to say – if you want to know more come out next year! I promise you won’t be disappointed.

For more information, visit



It annoys me – to the point where words can’t even explain it – how incredibly excited people are about the NHL playoffs. For those not in the know, I hail from the GTA (greater Toronto area) and just about everyone is going crazy for our home team, The Toronto Maple Leafs. This is an industry that punked out on you for half a season yet when they say jump you ask how high. Appalling.

I’m not anti-sports. Sports are fun,  they get people engaged and excited about their city and give kids a chance to get out there. But the amount of money that goes into a recreational activity boggles me, especially when I work in a field that only gets cutbacks.

I bring all this up because this week – May 6th – 12th – is Nurses Week in Ontario, where we appreciate and recognize all the amazing things those of us in healthcare do for you and your families. The higher-ups at work gave us all coffee and donuts on Monday which I thought was a nice gesture. We also got cool like doo-dads like coffee cups and pens today that say positive things about nursing.

When these overpaid ballerinas deal with the outcome of an enema, I’ll be the first one to buy a ticket to their game.


Gay Seniors Struggling to Find Safe Retirement Housing

Gay Seniors Struggling to Find Safe Retirement Housing

 As a care giver, a PSW and a human being who also has a private life, it is NONE OF MY BUSINESS whether or not a resident of mine is gay, bi, lesbian, transgender or prefers trees. In fact, it is NO BODY’S business except theirs.
This should not impact the care you give these people. This should not affect your thoughts regarding these individuals. A persons sexual preference – whether they are 65+ or not – is not relevant in ANYTHING. Do you get me? This has always upset me and the fact that this is also an issue for people who have sacrificed and seen more heartbreaking things than we can ever imagine upsets me even more.

Under Attack.

“Violence in retirement and nursing homes is a growing problem, as many seniors live longer and require long-term care that their families simply cannot provide.

An investigation into resident-on-resident abuse in long-term care homes by CTV’s W5 earlier this year found that such attacks are more common than many think. The probe found that more than 10,000 violent “incidents” in care homes are reported across Canada each year.”

I have a resident who’s been diagnosed with bi-polar disorder. Before they transferred to our home, when manic, they threatened a nurse with a knife and attempted suicide.

The police have been called on several accounts on another resident for making death threats and fighting with another resident.

Violence in the work place….it’s not what you think.

Co-worker on co-worker? It happens. Long Term Care resident on another resident? It happens more often than you think. I’ve seen it – granted not to this extent – but it’s there.

Are the PSW’s and nursing staff to blame? Maybe, but it’s hard to say. When a nursing home or retirement home is under staffed, and most are, it’s next to impossible to keep your eye on everyone.  I wish I could have a camera follow me around during my shift, just so people can see how difficult this job is.

This goes much deeper than someone having a bad day or accidentally acquiring a pair of scissors. Dementia and Alzheimer’s are biggies, but let’s not forget the other forms of mental illness: Depression, Bi-Polar, Schizophrenia. Unfortunately the “mental hospital” as it was once known is no longer in existence so where do these poor souls go? Hospitals. The street and sometimes, yes, the nursing home. PSW’s and RN’s are not properly trained or equipped to deal with the potentially dangerous issues these illnesses can present.

More staff would help this situation, but we also need people who are properly trained with the skills to deal with the unknown evils mental illness brings.

Evil doesn’t even begin to describe it.



Rockin’ Out


Rockin’ GTA Seniors land on Katie Couric


TORONTO – Two GTA seniors who made headlines after taking in their first rock concert last month will appear as special guests on the Katie Couric show Tuesday.

Lifelong gal pals Thelma Moore and Kay Hutton — both 84 — were invited to appear on Couric’s U.S.-based, nationally-syndicated daytime talk show, Katie, just days after the Toronto Sun wrote about the two women going to see supergroup Bon Jovi at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre on Feb. 18.

Moore and Hutton, who’ve been close since girlhood, had done many things together, but sitting through an ear-splitting rock concert had not yet been one of them.

The women, who had already gone on countless trips and excursions together, had also seen their friendship strengthened by going through some of life’s tragedies side by side, including the death of both their husbands and the premature passing of one of Moore’s adult sons.

Couric’s producers came looking for Moore and Hutton to ask the women to appear on a show about the power of friendship. The pair were flown to New York for a taping with Couric on Feb. 28. That show will air on Tuesday at 4 p.m. on CITY-TV.

“This is a hoot, really,” Moore said shortly before leaving for New York. “I’d seen the (Katie) show only occasionally, but have been watching it steadily over the last few days.”

AND THIS, my fellow readers, is reason #543673607 why I LOVE seniors so so much.
& Bon Jovi rules all. ❤