Riverview Manor receives funding to determine benefits of social work in BSO program

Social worker Laura Johnstone, pictured above, is working with Riverview Manor’s BSO team.

Social worker Laura Johnstone will be working with residents and BSO team until the end of March

PETERBOROUGH, Ont. – As a social-work student, Laura Johnstone did her placement at Riverview Manor last summer and got to know many of the Peterborough long-term care home’s residents.

Having completed her studies in October, Laura is back at Riverview Manor, working with the home’s Behavioural Supports Ontario (BSO) team until the end of March to help determine the benefits of adding a social worker to BSO teams.

The position was made available with funding from the Central East Local Health Integration Network (LHIN).

Laura says she was a perfect fit for the position.

“It was ideal for me to get the position because I already knew a lot of the residents, so that really has helped,” Laura tells The OMNIway.

In her role, Laura is largely meeting with residents who are exhibiting behaviours to learn about their history. The objective, she says, is to better understand behaviours by better understanding the residents.

“Quite often, (residents) will come (into long-term care) and we know just the basics, but don’t always have an understanding of family relationships (or) the experiences they had in the community,” she says.

By learning about underlying issues and experiences residents may have, agitation and responsive behaviours may be prevented, Laura adds.

Laura also works as an advocate for residents and ensures their rights are protected. Because her job is not invasive, Laura is able to quickly gain trust with residents, which is important for this role.

“My role is very non-threatening; I don’t wear a uniform,” she says. “The residents will often tell me things they would not tell staff, and that’s very helpful to the BSO team.”

BSO is a provincial initiative to help enhance quality of life for seniors affected by dementia and other conditions that cause agitation. The funding, which is provided to long-term care homes through Ontario’s 14 Local Health Integration Networks, is largely put towards staff education.

– More to come

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