Rainycrest Family Council looking for more members

Duane Hicks

While there has been a family council at Rainycrest for several years now, the newest iteration of the group has been hard at work taking a more proactive approach working with Rainycrest administration to ensure the health and welfare of long-term care residents.
Council chairperson Barb Duguay, who is joined on the executive by Shirley Crosby (vice-chair/treasurer), Bev Melnychuk (communications), Lynda Ahrens (secretary), and Nancy Cain and Renee McDonald (welcoming), said the group is trying to raise its profile and attract more members to better help the residents and their friends and families.
“As chair of the Rainycrest Family Council, I would like to invite all who are facing the challenges of a loved one to come out our meetings,” Duguay noted.
“Meetings are confidential, supportive, and educational.
“I’m proud to be a part of this enthusiastic and caring group of people,” she added.
Council members do not have to be relatives of residents—just people who are interested in the welfare of Rainycrest residents. After all, their loved ones or they themselves may be residents there one day.
The family council meets every third Tuesday of the month at 1:30 p.m. in the activation centre. Guest speakers are requested to attend meetings.
For more information, check out the “Family Council” section of the new information centre at Rainycrest.
Meanwhile, working in conjunction with Rainycrest administrator Edith Bodnar, the family council has been very busy.
The most recent project it spearheaded was an information centre, which was just put up last Tuesday (Nov. 24).
The project was supported financially by the Rainycrest Auxiliary, Rainycrest Resident Council, and Rainycrest Family Council.
The purpose of the wall, which consists of several bulletin boards side by side, is to provide a one-stop location for information, whether it’s a posting related to the family council, Rainycrest Auxiliary, resident council, Ministry of the Health and Long-Term Care, or pretty much anything else.
The family council also purchased a computer for residents and their families to use, thanks to a memorial fund.
The computer is located in the activation centre, and features Internet access and a webcam so residents can communicate with loved ones they may not be able to face-to-face.
Working with administration, the family council also helped establish a user-friendly protocol for all residents, family, and representatives for obtaining information, raising concerns, and lodging complaints at Rainycrest.
A representative from the family council meets with administration monthly to go over meeting minutes and take up concerns.
The family council also puts together welcoming packages for all new Rainycrest residents, with complimentary quilted table toppers made by the local Cabin Country Quilt Guild and a brochure explaining who the Rainycrest Family Council is and what they do.
As well, it commissioned local artists Pam Hawley, Sandra Brunetta, and Jean Richards to paint three doors in the special care unit with outdoor scenes to create a more aesthetically-pleasing environment for residents and their visitors.
The family council also continues to work very closely with food services at Rainycrest to audit meals, and a representative from the family council attends Quality Assurance Committee meetings.
The family council also reviewed a recent proposed draft regulation under the Long-Term Care Homes Act, 2007, and submitted input to the ministry as to how the province can improve the care of long-term care residents.
The family council also has had input into making the curbs outside of Rainycrest wheelchair-friendly for family and friends visiting residents, and is researching ideas for a recreational area on Rainycrest’s ground for picnics and barbecues—complete with a screened-in area during bug season.
Looking ahead to 2010, the Rainycrest Family Council already has a list of goals. These include liaisoning with the new chaplain at Rainycrest, working on creating “a home atmosphere” in respite rooms, and continuing work with nutrition and food services.
Council members also plan to work with the activation centre on having a pet therapy group, and assist the activation department by recruiting volunteers.
“If you are a student or someone looking to work with our older population, please contact the activation department at Rainycrest,” noted Duguay.
The family council also wants to have an identification board in all wings of the facility, which clearly would indicate to visiting families who is on shift and to whom they should report.
Duguay said many other family councils have reported that this is an issue at other long-term care facilities in Ontario.
And the family council is looking to put out a fundraiser coupon book in 2010, so the public is reminded to keep an eye out for that in the new year.
According to their mission statement, the family council is an organization of families and friends of residents of Rainycrest.
Its mission is to be a liaison between the residents’ families and friends and staff to facilitate communication, and to work with staff in the promotion and encouragement of programs and decisions for the ultimate benefit of the residents.
The council also exists to address a mandate under provincial legislation that all long-term care facilities have a body of friends and families, or those who have a sincere interest in the heath and welfare of residents.
It is one of a network of family councils across Ontario, which has a main headquarters in Toronto and regional office in Sudbury.
Duguay said the network is very helpful, and “we continue to call on our regional office for support and leadership.”
A family council newsletter is distributed three times a year, sharing information from across the province regarding what other family councils are working on and how they are addressing concerns.