Our Seniors

I am always amused in our interview process when I ask what a potential employee appreciates most about Seniors and they answer “I love how they are all so sweet!”

Now that’s just not true! Our seniors come in all shapes, sizes and temperaments, just like we do. Some are lovely and sweet, some are curmudgeonly, some are funny as all get out, some are wise and generous with their stories and life experiences, and some keep themselves close to the vest. That’s what makes a community – all kinds of people with all kinds of backgrounds, coming together to form a brand new community.

As both residents and staff come and go, the community shifts and different talents, interests and personalities come to the forefront, but the thread of “home” stays the same.

Our goal is to make every resident feel accepted, warmly welcomed and valued, just for being who they are.

Some of them come from situations that were not safe, or where they were isolated. Some come from wonderful places because they just need a bit more care. Some come because “I don’t want to ever cook again”.  But whatever the reason, they are welcomed and hopefully, if we do our job right, this becomes home.

By Sarah Smith, Manager of The Cridge Seniors’ Services

The Cridge faces. Nick.

Today we want to share a story with you. During the lockdown, we would like to acknowledge the work of some of our amazing staff members who continue to serve our clients during the pandemic. 

Nick is our Brain Injury Services Direct Care Coordinator – and he makes sure that every client in his care feels safe and respected.

Nick came to The Cridge Brain Injury Services as a nursing student in 2013. He shared that his first experience was to witness a fight between two residents. It was a realistic glance at the everyday tasks, responsibilities and challenges at MacDonald House, The Cridge Centre for the Family’s residential program for Brain Injury survivors. It was an intimidating start to his work!

As he returned to Mac House over and over again, he could not help but fall in love with the residents. Under the guidance of The Cridge Brain Injury Manager, Geoff, Nick learned the intricacies of working with people who suffered from brain injury.

“No brain injury is the same,” shares Nick, “which means every new client requires a unique approach to their needs and difficulties. That makes my job even more interesting and challenging. That’s why I love my job!”

Nick believes that compassion and empathy are the most essential tools when working with brain injury clients. It is all about whatever it takes to preserve the dignity of the person.

The biggest challenge Nick faces working with people who have experienced brain injury is the fact that in order to provide safety it is necessary to limit clients’ independence and place boundaries on decision making. 

Here is an example. For someone who is disoriented and confused or suffering from memory loss, the last thing to do is to allow them to go for a walk with no supervision. It is so easy to get lost! But the limitations to their independence and decision making will frustrate Mac House clients, explained Nick. Good communication is the best tactic, he shared with us. And patience.

Nick believes that it is all about the balance between providing safety and taking things slow. He likes to remind clients that it takes time to rebuild their lives back to a new normal. If there is a will, there is the way.

We are grateful to every member of our Cridge family that is on the frontlines and taking care of our clients, making sure that their needs are met.

Second Chances

For the staff of The Cridge Dovetail Program, offering women a second chance to build a life of security and fulfilment is the cornerstone of the work we do. For many of the women we work with, their time in our supportive housing is the first experience of safety in their entire lives. As a staff, we strive to ensure that we do all we can to make this second chance a success.

We recognize, however, that the pathway these women walk from violence towards safety is rocky, and sometimes completely impassable. The second chance we offer is not always possible for women. For some, it is the economic uncertainty they face: realizing that leaving the abuser means leaving financial security for themselves and their children can lead women back to the relationship. For others, it is the inability to protect their children from the abuser: when courts allow fathers partial custody, many women choose to return to him so that they can protect their kids. And yet for others, it is an addiction, brain injury, or the pull of a new relationship that impacts their journey. When the second chance falls apart, we do all we can to keep the door open. We strive to offer as many second chances as it takes.

Naomi is a mother of 2 sons. Since she left her abusive ex-husband, she has struggled financially. Her abusive ex had access to all of the family finances and the court system was taking forever to act. Coming up with the money to keep her boys clothed, fed and in their after-school activities was a huge challenge. A few months after moving into our housing, Naomi met a man in her ESL class who swept her off her feet. He offered her the love and security that she so desired, and she quickly notified us that she was moving out and into his home. We tried to persuade her to give it more time but the struggles she was experiencing, and the pull of this new “second chance,” was overwhelming.

We decided to keep the door open as wide as we could to Naomi. We stayed in touch and assured her that we would do whatever we could to offer her support if things fell apart. We prayed and prayed for Naomi and her sons. It didn’t take long for Naomi to realize that this new relationship was not the answer. Her new partner’s behaviour was beginning to resemble her ex-husband’s. She was embarrassed and ashamed to admit it, but when she did, we were able to respond to her with understanding and acceptance. By God’s grace, we had a vacant unit and she was able to move back into the program… another second chance!

We know how challenging it is for women like Naomi, and we work and pray for a system that makes it easier for women to embrace their second chance and never look back.

By Candace Stretch, Manager of Supportive Housing & Family Services 

Just Ask!

As a parent of two boys, I’ve heard many ways of referring to our children and “identifying” them. Are they simply two boys? Two boys who have autism? Autistic children? Neurodiverse? Neurodivergent? Boys with special needs? Children who are not typical? Disabled boys? Boys with disabilities? Children with complex needs? I could go on and on, much like the debates on how it is appropriate to refer to someone.

Over the years our views on how to address, describe or identify our children has evolved and changed. As the boys have grown and matured they’ve started to be able to determine for themselves how they would like to be identified and if they want to be identified as anything other than boys at all. One thing I know for sure is not everybody is on the same page when it comes to this topic and there are a lot of strong opinions. People are different, we’re all different. How we each want to be identified or how we want others to refer to us is a personal choice that should be respected. If you need to or want to identify somebody and don’t know what their preference is, just ask.

At Cridge Respitality we support over 440 local families, all of whom have a child or children with a diagnosed disability. Our goal is to provide a parent/s or guardian with an opportunity once annually to do something special, something extra, something just for them. Whether it be a night away at one of our hotel partners, dinner out, or a performance at the theatre, free of charge, donated by our local business partners and community. Respitality is all about giving some love and care to the caregiver, to support them as they care for their children.

By Heather Stevens, The Cridge Respitality Program.

 

To learn more about The Cridge Respite & Respitaliy Program, visit this page.

Valentine’s – Keeping It Real!

Valentine’s can just pile more sadness on top of a tough time for women in a transition house. At CTHW, we mark the day with treats and special gifts that let women know they are loved and appreciated. Purdys Chocolates came up with the perfect chocolate treats for the occasion this year:

Our staff, Kathy, included one of these little boxes of chocolates in the beautiful gift bags she made for each woman. And among the unique gifts she put in these bags, she included a mirror compact with a message for each woman:

 

For the kids at CTHW, any day that starts off with chocolate is a good day. When I arrived at work on the morning of February 14, 3 little girls were bursting with excitement over their chocolate Valentine’s treats. They were dancing around me, showing me what they got, and then one of them squealed, “And the Easter Bunny brought us these!” You can always count on the Easter Bunny to keep it real!!!

By Marlene Goley, Manager of The Cridge Transition House for Women.

 

Tax Season

It’s COOOOOOMMING…..!!!

I’m going to say a dirty word. Are you ready? Don’t be shocked!

TAXES.

Ugh. It’s that time of the year. Tax season. The worst time of the year and the worst way to spend a couple of hours (days?!?). I HATE doing my taxes. Are you with me?

However, there is one part that I like. Only one. Are you ready?

I like adding up my donation receipts to see how much I have given away to my favourite charities. I am usually surprised (am I REALLY that generous?!?) and often consider what else I could have done with that money. Things like holidays and renovations and new toys for my garden come to mind.

But then I stop and think about all the good things that my favourite charities have done with that money. They have helped people. Lots of people with lots of needs. So although they did the hands-on work, it was because of me and my donation that they were able to do it. And that makes me proud… and humble… and just really really grateful that I got to be a part of changing lives.

You can too – change a life. Donate today. You’ll be happy next year when tax season comes around!

By Joanne Linka, Manager of Communication and Fund Development

Homelessness In Victoria

Homelessness in Victoria is a problem. No one would ever say that the number of people living on our streets is acceptable. Rather, politicians, business people and local agencies work hard, speak often and advocate on behalf of the issue in hopes of finding a solution. More housing. More services. More detox beds. More mental health supports. More.

But what if instead of looking for more, we worked towards less? What if instead of spending tax dollars on treating the problem, we worked on preventing the problem? What if vulnerable people and families were supported before they became homeless? What if services were offered that prevented homelessness rather than put a bandaid on the gaping wound of multiple issues of entrenched homelessness? What would preventing homelessness look like? What would preventing homelessness look like to you?

By Joanne Linka, Manager of Communication and Fund Development

Rain

We’ve had a lot of rain lately, haven’t we? I love the smell of rain! I don’t like what it does to my very curly hair. When it rains, I enjoy staying in and watching a movie with my family or going for a walk in our rain gear, me with my clear birdcage umbrella that reminds me of the one I had as a young girl.
Lately, Linda and I, at The Cridge Respite and Respitality, have been spending time thinking of ideas for things our program parent/s, guardians, or families might like to do throughout the year, some of which we’re hoping we can offer families in the future.

Rainy day activities could include:
• a visit to the library then home to read a book as a family or independently,
• a movie at the theatre, with popcorn of course,
• drop in at your neighbourhood rec centre for a swim where the water is warm,
• have a hot chocolate or a picnic outside at a park shelter and listen to the rain hit the roof,
• try an escape room for the first time,
• be a tourist in your home town,
• spend the night at a local hotel bundled up in a robe,
• visit the museum.
There are a lot of great things to do in our city when it seems like it’s endless rain — try something new, stick with something comfortable, or take time to slow down, relax, and smell the rain!

By Heather Stevens, The Cridge Respitality Services.

To learn more about The Cridge Respitality Services,  please click the link.

Pictures with Santa

The donations and support poured out to Cridge Transition House this Christmas was astounding and made Christmas so special for the women and children who were being sheltered over the holidays.  The heartfelt generosity brought me to tears more than once. In all of the overwhelming, big, gratitude moments, there were also some very special small moments.  In all of the busyness of doing the work and daily living, with Christmas layered on top, I want to tell you about a small moment that took my breath away.

At my own home, I’ve always relished the traditional pictures of kids with Santa displayed prominently on my fridge.  First, it was pictures of my own kids, then grandchildren and the children of my children’s now-adult friends. I don’t know what it is about these pictures – maybe the hopeful, excited faces exuding confidence that they made it to the Nice List and stayed off the Naughty List! Maybe it’s just part of the Christmas magic.  Whatever it is, those pictures cheer me, sustain me, and make me chuckle.

As I rushed through the transition house kitchen on a typically busy December morning, something on the fridge caught my eye.  There was a picture of Santa with two of the little boys currently living at the house, stuck to the fridge door with a magnet.  Knowing these two well, it was amazing in and of itself to see them sitting still long enough to have their picture taken.  But it was sitting with Santa with beaming smiles – the confident Nice List faces – that stopped in my tracks.  Those little faces on the fridge door magically transformed our shelter into a home – a safe place where your child’s picture with Santa belongs.  Like the pictures on my fridge, that picture cheers me, sustains me, and makes me chuckle. And this one reminds me of how blessed I am that a mom who has endured so much, is able to enjoy and share some Christmas magic with me. I wish her many years of a safe, loving home with a fridge covered in Santa pictures.

By Marlene Goley, Manager of The Cridge Transition House for Women

How To Feel Less Lonely This January: Tips For Seniors And Their Families

The 3rd Monday of January is called “Blue Monday”. The term “Blue Monday” was introduced as a marketing strategy to encourage people to buy winter get-away trips. However, in British Columbia, winter months pose serious challenges for the elderly – lousy weather limits mobility, lack of sunlight and isolation create a stark contrast with the recent holiday season when the family is visiting, days are occupied in planning, shopping, and gift-giving. Our world has changed and now many independent-living seniors can’t rely on the closest neighbour’s fellowship like it was so common before.

We asked our manager of The Cridge Seniors’ Services, Sarah Smith, about the best strategies to overcome the feeling of loneliness and isolation. “Visiting is the biggest thing”, Sarah responded. “They need their families!”

For seniors, it is also about learning how to dance in the storm. Here are some other tips that might help to overcome the January Blues.

  1. Talk to your family about it

Sometimes we feel uncomfortable bringing up feelings of sadness and loneliness that we experience. Your family won’t consider it to be a burden and it might make you feel better – the knowledge that you are heard and supported.

  1. Connect with others

Consider joining a club or inviting an old friend over for tea. If it is hard for you to get out of the house, consider dialling the number – you might be surprised how much joy comes from a nice old fashioned chat on the phone.

  1. Create a list of New Years’ resolutions

Write down your thoughts and wishes – this can make a big difference in how you perceive your life. Your goals don’t have to be grandiose – it can be about a few important things: decide to read a new book every month, drink enough water or make new friends – or perhaps you want to learn a new skill! It is never too late to learn something new and exciting.

  1. Make your home safer

Think smart – most of the falls and injuries that occur at home are preventable. Make sure you have a list of all the important phone numbers on your fridge, carry a cell phone with you when going for a walk, keep a working flashlight on the nightstand and make sure that throw rugs are not movable and won’t slip underneath you.

  1. Connect with community services

Many seniors choose to volunteer in a local museum or a charity. In Victoria, community centers offer a variety of senior-oriented activities that will help you to connect with peers and brighten up your day. If you are feeling isolated and overwhelmed, you can always reach out to support services like BC211 or call 811. Here are some other support services that make a difference in our community:

Living Life to the Full – is a free, interactive, facilitated 8-week course for youth, adults, and seniors based on the principles of cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) that improves resilience, mood, well-being, anxiety, and social support. Available in Chinese, French and English. For more information, call 250-216-4228

Seniors Serving Seniors – is a telephone line that provides comprehensive information and referral to resources for seniors available throughout the region. Office and Senior Link hours are 9 am to 4 pm Monday to Thursday. Dial Senior Link at 250-413-3211