A Caring and Compassionate home: St. Michael’s Centre
December 12, 2021
In 2018, Patricia had a conversation with Brittany from Fraser Health about the possibility of transitioning her 96-year-old mother, Helen Brown, from their family home in Burnaby to the nearby St. Michaels Centre. Even though she was extremely healthy for her age, she wanted to make sure that there was a convenient place for her mother to go, should they ever need to make that decision. Patricia had a consultation with her mother in early 2020, but she was adamant about not wanting to move anywhere.
Circumstances changed when Helen was admitted to Burnaby Hospital 8 times, including for 23 days in April 2020, when she experienced back-to-back falls. They felt lucky that a spot opened up in St. Michaels Centre in April, close to her home, and it was frankly quite a relief for Patricia when her mother agreed to relocate.
Helen moved into her new home at St. Michaels Centre during the pandemic, and in the long months following this momentous shift, Patricia kept in touch daily, through the phone and FaceTime, and, when the situation allowed, standing outside the fence at the patio or outside her bedroom window.
“Katrina, one of the staff members at St. Michaels, is especially kind to my Mom and would hold her hand and give her little pats on the back during our FaceTime calls – she knew how much the lack of personal touch was affecting my mother. Mom even said that she wanted to adopt Katrina! I was a tad jealous to hear that.”
She remarks that the many staff members she encountered were stellar in accommodating her and her family’s scheduled visits, receiving clothing and toiletries at the front door, and just always welcoming any guests in a friendly manner. The staff also helped facilitate a festive 99th birthday earlier in 2021, where they invited RCMP officers, firefighters and a bagpiper visit the entrance of St. Michaels Centre, which brought her mother so much joy.
“I have gotten to know the staff at St. Michaels Centre very well and it is the little personal touches that stand out the most. The Therapies team were fabulous in making all the arrangements so that my Mom could talk and see her friends and family in-person. She also found a conversation partner, Doca, who speaks fluent Ukrainian – her second language – and they can be found many days swapping funny stories.”
Patricia shares that she chooses to donate to St. Michaels Centre multiple times because of my experience with their amazing staff and facilities. She found that the staff treat all of the residents with the utmost safety, dignity, and care. Her mother enjoys the many activities and outings, as well as beautiful private spaces such as a Rose Garden, resident garden and outdoor patios where residents can sit with their loved ones.
“This facility is a precious community resource and needs to thrive, especially with an aging population in Burnaby. The building is 40 years old and I have seen the maintenance staff so busy. The facility is really clean and well-maintained, but there’s still so much to do. St. Michaels is a wonderful long term care home and the only one with a hospice so that your loved one would only need to move once. The stress of one move was unbelievable, and to have to move a loved one multiple times would only compound the stress.”
Helen and her late husband, Don Brown were staples of the Burnaby community for many decades. Don was a School Board member, Councilor and Burnaby Freeman and they committed countless hours to giving back to the Burnaby community. They volunteered for the Burnaby Historical Society, Burnaby College for the Retired (president), Burnaby Metro Club, Lawn Bowling Club, Old Orchard Bowling Club and Pacific Open Heart Association (president). Together, they were an excellent team and the first couple voted as Burnaby Citizens of the Year in 1992.
Fun Fact: Don and Helen actually attended the opening of St. Michaels Centre and their invitation hangs inside the current facility!