I’ve been with the LHIN (formerly the Community Care Access Centre) for 19 years. Other than spending two weeks as a team assistant, I’ve been on the communication team.
I work on social media, websites, plan public and corporate events and do outreach in the community representing the LHIN at community events and forums. I talk to a lot of people –many of whom don’t know anything about our services. In fact, before I joined the organization, I didn’t know anything about home and community care.
It’s part of my job to share information as clearly as possible so that people know about the services that are available to them when they are needed. I always share what I hear from people in the community, both the good and the bad. After all, we can’t improve the system if we don’t listen.
I was at a newcomer fair where there were a lot of families that had just arrived in Canada, and who didn’t speak English. They had no idea that help was available at home, or how to find it. I met one couple that had an elderly mother at home. When they heard about how we could help them, their faces lit up. Those moments make it all worthwhile. Even if they didn’t need help right away, they had the information so they could call when they were ready.
It’s all about getting the word out that we are here to help people navigate the system. The process can be extremely overwhelming for most.
On the phone or at community events I meet people who are upset with a process, information, or the care they or a family member are receiving. I remember one man in particular who I spoke to early in my career that was very angry about changes that were happening to his wife’s care. He ended up in tears. He talked to me about his wife and their marriage would be impacted and how her declining health was taking a toll on him. He was devastated that he couldn’t care for her anymore. He was terrified that the changes would mean she’d be taken from him and put in a long term care home.
His story touched my heart. It changed how I reacted to all of the stories I heard and how I work every day. It is difficult to hear emotional and sometimes angry people talk about their frustrations. But he really made me stop and think of how I could listen and do my best to understand and find out how I could help. It made me think about how I would feel in his position. How would I want to feel heard? What can I do to show I am listening and doing what I can to understand their situation and help them? Have I been in a similar situation with a family member? Turns out that yes I have had challenges too, it made me more empathetic and sympathetic to others.
Many times, the people who work here have gone through similar situations in their own personal lives. When patients or their families share their experiences, often the person on the other end of the care understands. The people who work at the LHIN are listening. They want to make it better, and the stories we hear do help make things change. It may not always happen quickly, but it does happen.
It’s a great feeling to know that what I do in communications helps to connect people to the services and providers in the health care system that can help them and their situation.
I come to work each day eager to share my knowledge about a system that is here to help.