Working for Village Green is like working for family, says long-time employee

Mary Esterbrook, pictured above, has been serving Village Green residents for 38 years.

Mary Esterbrook, who has worked at the home 38 years, also says she has learned a lot and has seen many positive changes

Mary Esterbrook says one of the reasons she has remained a Village Green team member for 38 years is because working at the Selby, Ont., long-term care home is like working for family – literally.

Mary, who works in the housekeeping department and has been at Village Green longer than any other staff member, has not only had close family members live at the home, she has discovered connections to residents she didn’t even know were part of her family.

“I have family coming in and out of here all the time,” she tells The OMNIway. “I don’t even know half the time that we are related, (then) a resident comes in and we get talking, and they say, ‘you realize that we’re related? We’re distant cousins.’ Or ‘your mum knew my mum.’ ”

The area around Selby and Greater Napanee is a large farming community, with many families living in the region for generations, so it’s not surprising how many people are in some way related, Mary says.

Mary says she has seen a lot of change at Village Green and in the long-term care sector over the decades. One important change she notes is that all staff members today are trained to work with residents who have dementia.

She says when she started working at Village Green in 1980, staff members, other than nurses, health-care aides and personal support workers, were not trained in how to work with people who have Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.

Today, all OMNI Health Care team members are trained in the Supportive Measures program to help them understand what dementia is, how it affects people and what can be done to prevent agitation in people living with the condition.

It’s training Mary says she also uses in her personal life, as her dad is living with dementia.

But Mary says what energizes her most is the impact she knows she can have on residents. Often, it’s little things she can do to enhance a person’s quality of life.

“If a resident is having a down day, I give them a hug. They appreciate that, the extra attention I try to give them,” she says.

Village Green is celebrating 40 years in the community of Selby in 2018. Throughout 2018, The OMNIway will be featuring stories and videos about home’s residents, staff members and volunteers.

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