Personal touch to care attracted DOC to Almonte Country Haven

Susan Abernethy brings 30-plus years of nursing experience to residents and staff

Susan Abernethy says she’s always had a passion for working with seniors, so when there was an opening for the director of care (DOC) position at Almonte Country Haven last autumn she decided it was time for a career change.

Susan had worked as a registered nurse in hospitals – largely in emergency rooms – for more than 30 years. While she enjoyed the work, by 2020 she felt “it was time for a change,“ and applied for the DOC position at the Lanark County long-term care home.

She became Almonte Country Haven’s DOC in November.

“I’ve always had a soft spot for working with seniors,” Susan tells The OMNIway. “The timing was just such that I felt I needed a change, (and) I happily accepted the position here.”

Unlike in hospitals, where patients are typically short-stay, long-standing relationships are built between residents and caregivers in long-term care homes which provides a unique atmosphere in health care, Susan says.

From her first day as Almonte Country Haven’s DOC, Susan says she wanted to embrace this personal touch to care. That meant getting to know each of the home’s residents on a first-name basis from the get-go.

“When I first came here, my way of getting to know the residents was to go into the dining room every morning and see how many people’s names I could remember, and that helped me fit right in,” she says.

“I wanted to get back to that nurse-patient relationship that is more human versus clinical.”

Working with Almonte Country Haven administrator Carolyn Della Foresta for the past four months has created “one of the best job circumstances” Susan says she has experienced.

What Susan says she is finding at Almonte Country Haven is an environment with exceptional leadership where everyone is fully dedicated to the residents they serve.

This dedication, she says, results in outstanding resident care.

“Carolyn is fully invested in the home in every sense of the word. She’s very passionate about the residents getting the very best care, and that filters down to the residents and staff,” Susan says.

“When you have someone who is integrating themselves into the care of residents in the way that Carolyn does, it has a positive effect on everyone else.”

– This is Part 1 of a two-part story

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