St. Teresa Place staff and residents continue Mother Teresa’s legacy
September 12, 2018
By Tessia Verbeek
Staff and residents at St. Teresa Place know that performing small acts with great love makes a difference.
It’s a fitting way to approach life as they work and live in a site named after St. Teresa.
“St. Teresa is one of the most recognizable and recent saints,” says Becky Vink, a Chaplain at the Calgary centre. “She set the bar for all of us working in health care and with vulnerable populations like seniors.”
The Calgary supportive living facility has 250 residents and includes one floor dedicated to specialized dementia care. It was named in honour of Mother Teresa, a Nobel Peace Prize winner known for her courageous leadership and faith. She was driven to help the neediest and most vulnerable of the world. She died in 1997 and was declared St. Teresa of Calcutta in 2016.
Her quotes are found on several photos that adorn the walls of the care facility. Her efforts to help others are an inspiration to many at the site, and we share just a few of their stories.
“Love is a fruit, in season at all times and within reach of every hand.”
Becky Vink, Chaplain
Becky sees hope all around her.
“Hope comes from bringing connections and stories to one another,” says the Chaplain. “It’s those things we do to help a person see themselves and see life is worth living.”
As people age and find their health declining, many struggle with their identity, Becky says. Moving and making new friends is a challenge at every age, but especially so for seniors who may have lost loved ones over the years.
“We want our seniors to feel they are worthwhile and an important part of our community,” she says. “I help our residents find common ground with each other, one connection at a time.”
One way Becky spreads hope is by serving breakfast to residents on the third floor. It’s an inspiring way to start her day.
“I observe our residents becoming good neighbours, helping and advocating for one another,” says Becky. “For example, one resident who struggles to speak will get his food order correct through the voice of his table mate. Another resident will cut the food for her table mate whose hands are too shaky some days.”
Those acts of caring are important, says Becky, who talks of her love for each resident at the site. Love is the main ingredient necessary to bring about the miracle of hope and healing in one another, she says.
“Years ago, as I was training to work in the field of spiritual care, I learned that hope is not something that I can bring or give to another person,” says Becky. “Love, on the other hand, is something that can be freely given and received by everyone.”
“Let us always meet each other with smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.“
Neeta Sharma, Resident Assistant
Neeta loves learning about the residents and finding ways to be kind to them.
“It is my hobby to notice everything about the residents around me,” says the Resident Assistant at St. Teresa’s Place. “Their grooming habits, food choice, I even know how much of each ingredient a resident wants in their tea.”
The interest comes from her upbringing, she says. “I’m from India. We have big families and we know how to take care of each person. It’s in my nature!”
Neeta knows a simple smile or a kind word goes a long way.
“I picture myself with my own father,” says Neeta. “These are somebody’s parents. I know how it feels when your parents need you. That’s what I feel when I care for someone. That is what I love.”
“Joy is prayer, joy is strength: joy is love, joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls.“
Gurpreet Kaur, Registered Nurse and Case Manager
“We know the significance of little things that bring joy into our lives,” says Gurpreet. “When residents move into our facility, we do everything we can to give them independence and help them maintain their dignity.”
The Registered Nurse and Case Manager from Alberta Health Services is based at St. Teresa Place and meets with each resident when they move in to determine their healthcare needs before developing a care plan.
“Our focus is providing care with love and compassion because it makes our people happier and our relationships stronger,” says Gurpreet. “We laugh, cry and dance together. We share these moments with our residents.”
Gurpreet remembers a day when residents and staff were quietly watching TV together. Someone suggested the show was boring and started to sing.
“People retain music,” says Gurpreet. “We all started singing together. You are my sunshine, my only sunshine!”
Helping residents feel like they are home is important.
“Our residents bring us as much joy as we bring to them,” she says.
“I want you to be concerned about your next-door neighbour. Do you know your next-door neighbour?“
Dayah Ramdhaine, Resident
Dayah looks after the people around her.
“In my home country of Trinidad, it comes very naturally to know and be concerned about my neighbour,” she says.
She finds grace in helping others, whether that is helping other residents navigate their wheelchair through doorways or getting a glass of water for someone.
“Small, simple things can mean a lot,” says Dayah.
Toyin Isaac, a Licensed Practical Nurse on Dayah’s floor, says, “Our values at Covenant Care mean we serve and treat others as we would wish to be treated, with a special concern for those most vulnerable.”
St. Teresa's quotes are found on several photos that adorn the walls of St. Teresa Place in Calgary. Her words continue to inspire many at the site.