Sometimes a thank you card says so much more than just thank you. The Foster family were so grateful for the care, kindness and compassion their mother, June “Peggy” Foster received during her time at Mt. Tolmie Hospital that they prepared a card to the staff titled “Song of Praise.” It included a photo of their mom and heartfelt comments from members of the family.
Wayne Foster first noticed a shift in his mother’s health while she was living on her own. He said the fact her case manager, Mary Kiselbach, took the time to observe and track changes the family had noticed, even though her symptoms weren’t always apparent, was much appreciated.
“Mary listened to mom, she was easy to reach and worked collaboratively with us to prepare for the next steps as mom’s illness progressed,” he said.
After a serious fall caused his mother’s condition to deteriorate rapidly, the family realized she needed more care than could be provided in an independent living setting. They struggled with what would be the best steps to take, unsure about the level of care and the differences in care facilities.
Kiselbach had to continually adjust to the changes during that period of his mother’s rapid decline, and she did that “extremely well,” Foster noted.
Kiselbach met the family when they brought their mother to the hospital as well, Foster said. A team at Mt. Tolmie long-term care facility were there to greet them when they arrived once their mother required palliative care.
“We could see immediately that the staff knew how to manage mom’s care and the family’s worries and concerns,” Foster said in an interview with the Saanich News.
“We were very surprised in a good way with the level of care in a public facility. The staff always made time to treat my mom and every resident as an individual. Whether it was bringing her tea in the garden or providing company and conversation during a sleepless night, we always felt the warmth of their personal connection to our mother and were treated like partners in her care.”
June “Peggy” Foster died on Sept. 9
Foster, who recently led a study that examined health care systems in 15 countries, wanted to share the family’s praise for Mt. Tolmie in the hopes it may assist people struggling with the choice between public and private care.
“Our family’s experience reinforced on a personal level why B.C. finished near the top of the study,” he said. “The system here is full of gems and angels.”
Wayne’s brother, Garry, summed it up succinctly in the thank you card with: “This is a profession that must be one of the highest on the planet…you experience humanity at one of its deepest levels.”
Mt. Tolmie manager Norma Sorensen said everyone at the facility was moved by the Fosters’ gesture.
“We were so gratified to receive the Song of Praise,” said Sorenesen, who has been at Mt. Tolmie for the past four years. “That they took the time to do that meant so much to our staff.”
“The care Peggy received is the standard staff strive for all patients because they all deserve that,” Sorensen noted. “One of our values is to aspire to provide the highest degree of quality care for all of our patients, and staff does that constantly.”
That is achieved by creating an atmosphere that fosters guidance, education, improvement, training and positive processes, Sorensen explained.
“It meant the world to us when the family said they were treated like partners in their mother’s care,” she added.
Mt. Tolmie is one of five Vancouver Island Health Authority long-term care facilities on the South Island that provide around-the-clock care for people ranging from young adults to more than 100 years of age. It has nine private rooms, nine three- or four-bed ward rooms and 14 semi-private rooms. The one-storey building has two garden accesses, lounges, on-site parking and handicapped parking. Special recreational opportunities are provided through the therapy department.
Mt. Tolmie has 72 residents cared for by 33 regular staff, 35 casuals and a dedicated group of volunteers.