Forest Hill remembers resident Joan Leclaire as a ‘true inspiration’

Joan Leclaire is seen here with the Lifetime Achievement Award she received from Forest Hill in September.

Residents, families and staff are saddened by her sudden passing

Joan Leclaire is being remembered as a much-loved Forest Hill resident who was a “true inspiration” as an outspoken advocate for others living at the Kanata, Ont. long-term care home and as someone who made a profound impact on people.

Joan died March 21, and her sudden passing has “deeply saddened” her fellow residents, their families and staff members, says Forest Hill administrator Susan Bell.

Susan says Joan’s work as president of the home’s residents’ council resulted in many positive changes at Forest Hill.

“Joan was a true inspiration to work with in her role as residents’ council president, but she was also a huge inspiration to everyone she came in contact with (for her) commitment and dedication to advocate for residents and Forest Hill,” Susan tells The OMNIway.

“There really is a true feeling of sadness around the home with the residents, staff and family members, because Joan made an impact on everyone she (met) with her positivity and her spirit for living life to the fullest.”

Shortly after moving into Forest Hill in 2014, Joan was unanimously elected as the home’s residents’ council president. She used her position to offer suggestions to the home to enhance quality of life for residents.

For instance, Joan played a large part in the remodelling of the tub room in her unit earlier this year. She told Susan that the tub room, with its clutter and outdated furnishings, gave the home a “facility impression,” so working together, they set about to make improvements.

Joan chose paint colours. She suggested new photographs for the tub room’s walls. The sink and cabinets were changed. A new clock was brought in. Three silver plant pots were placed on the window sill with succulent plants and cacti added. A wicker blind hung from a black iron curtain rod and white sheer linen curtains flanking the window were the final touch.

With her suggestions and input, the room was transformed into a bathing area that promotes relaxation and has improved residents’ bathing experience.

Joan was retired from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, where she was responsible for the input of formal reports for long-term care homes between east Toronto and Pembroke.

Working for the ministry and being a long-term care home resident provided Joan with unique insights.

During the Ontario Long Term Care Association’s Better Seniors’ Care 2015 letter-writing campaign, she penned a “very strongly written letter” to the ministry, explaining the need for increased funding for more front-line staff in the province’s long-term care homes.

“The PSWs are wonderful people. The nurses are running off their feet providing care. I feel that they don’t get the funding they need,” Joan told The OMNIway in May 2015. “All in all, I feel that the funding (needs to) promote the actual hiring of staff and what they need.”

For her dedication to residents and Forest Hill, Joan was presented with the home’s 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award.

But Susan says it’s Joan’s friendship to everyone at Forest Hill that will be missed most.

“She was just a wonderful person with a big heart and we will all miss her,” she says.

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