Imagine what it would be like if you were a senior who had to deal with the day-to-day challenges of dementia and the ever-precarious possibility of homelessness. This was the case for one client who had found refuge in a series of unregulated group homes where care was often deficient.
Right now, 8,700 people in Toronto are experiencing homelessness.
30%+ live with a mental health issue, and 25%+ live with an addiction.
A life filled with abrupt and traumatic changes and a great deal of uncertainty caused the client to be very guarded, defensive and unable to trust many people. When the GAIN team’s Behavioral Support Ontario Registered Practical Nurse was assigned to the case it was obvious there would be challenges.
The first hurdle to overcome was to gain the client’s trust. “The client would ignore me and wouldn’t even open the door,” said the BSO RPN. He went on to explain that on those few occasions the client did open
the door, he would avoid eye contact. Verbal conversation was very minimal and then the client would close the door once again.
Undeterred, the healthcare professional continued to visit the client. “In the beginning, I kept trying to see the client regularly, once or twice a week,” explained the dedicated RPN BSO. Over time the client began to trust the friendly face in the doorway and engaged in brief conversations.
Patiently and compassionately, the RPN BSO continued to build a rapport with the client. It took about six months before the client felt comfortable enough to allow the caring professional to take vital signs during visits. This major breakthrough meant the work of providing the client with much needed care and advocacy could finally begin.
The living conditions in the unregulated group home where the client was living were unacceptable and unsafe. The RPN BSO was able to help the client find a better group home where a compassionate
caretaker can ensure he has a clean, safe and caring environment to live in with other residents. Now, the client finally had a sanctuary and a place to call home.
The caring and compassionate GAIN team member continues to see the client on a regular basis to follow-up on care and provide wellness checks. Today, the client lives a life that is filled with care and support because of the compassion and persistence of the GAIN team RPN BSO.