Family atmosphere makes Wildwood Care Centre a great place to work: Staff

Long-time staff looks back on careers at the home

Last week, Wildwood Care Centre celebrated its 20th year at its current site in St. Marys, Ont. Several longtime staff members say it’s the family-like atmosphere and supportive management that’s kept them there.

After completing high school, Starr Miller went looking for a job and soon found herself working at Wildwood Care Centre. That was 19 years ago, and she’s still working at the home — and she says she would recommend Wildwood to anyone considering a career in long-term care.

Miller, who works in the dietary department, says she identifies with the close-knit, sense of family among residents and staff. The home, she says, provides a “friendly and caring” environment for residents, their families and staff members.

“It’s been an incredible experience,” she says of her career. “It’s very family oriented here. When I started I was 19, and I grew up with no elderly people, so it was a change for me (to work with elderly people), but it’s so much fun.”

Miller adds that the home’s small size — there are 60 beds — adds to this tight-knit atmosphere.

Like Miller, personal support worker (PSW) Judy Conn says she has always found Wildwood Care Centre to be like a family.

Conn has worked at the home for 23 years. She started when Wildwood Care Centre was at its original site. What has kept her at the home is simple: she enjoys her work and, like Miller, she likes the family atmosphere.

A native of St. Marys, Conn says she has personally known residents living at Wildwood, including relatives.

“Wildwood is very much a family,” the PSW says.

Conn adds that if any staff member needs support the home’s management team is always there to help. She recalls how supportive administrator Scott Walsh was when her father became ill suddenly.

“I can’t say enough for Scott and how he supported me,” she says.

Prior to starting her career at Wildwood, Conn worked in a factory and also drove a school bus. It was her parents that suggested Conn work in long-term care after noticing how well she interacted with seniors. So, she took their advice and went to night school to get her health-care aide qualifications.

Wildwood Care Centre has been managed by OMNI Health Care since 2013.

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