A humble act of kindness and caring has had a positive impact on the residents and staff of St. Walburg Health Complex, northwest of North Battleford.
One morning in August, residents of the 30-bed long term care home came out of their rooms and began to notice individualized notes taped on their doors. The messages were simple and brief: “You are a gift,” “You are strong,” “Your smile is contagious.” The impact the notes have had has been amazing.
A note full of smiles for Rollande Desilets
Resident Rollande Desilets said she didn’t notice the piece of paper taped to her door right away, but when she did, she was really pleased with what she saw – a message that told her “You are an awesome friend.”
“I was pretty proud of that,” Rollande smiled. “I have lots of awesome friends here.” She is leaving the note right on her door where she can see it again and again.
Resident Isabelle Spenst, whose message said, “You are thoughtful,” was touched by what she read. She has taken a different approach to keep the words close to her heart.
“I didn’t actually keep it on the door very long,” Isabelle stated. “I wanted it to be a note between me and the workers. I appreciated it,” she added.
Staff member Kaitlynn Jesse noticed the notes when she came on shift. Like other staff members, she quickly stopped by each door and read each note.
“They brought a smile to my face. I can’t imagine what each person thought when they read their own,” she said.
Kaitlyn explained that each message was uniquely suited to its resident. She described each note as “very personal and very positive about each person,” and said the notes make the residents happy that staff know them so well and appreciate them as individuals.
This note’s been relocated to the side of its recipient’s nightstand, where the resident can look at it again and again.
So who is the person behind the notes? Why did he or she take the time and make the effort to perform this special act?
That’s the mystery. Staff have been busy trying to find out “whodunit.”
“I’ve seen a staff member go up and down (the hallways) with the master signature sheet trying to compare writing,” said Bethany Bloom, facility manager of St. Walburg Health Complex. “It’s turned into a game of CSI,” she added. “It’s fun!”
Bloom is proud of whoever is responsible for the notes and the impact they have had on residents and staff. She said the notes are positive and fit each resident very well.
“It keeps us focused on individual and resident-centred care, and reminds us of who our residents are and the life they had before they came to us,” Bloom stated.
Leonard Wegner, interim director of rural health facilities in northwest Saskatchewan, would love to see such random acts of kindness and caring spread through similar sites across the province.
St. Walburg Health Complex facility manager Bethany Bloom and interim director of rural health facilities in the northwest Leonard Wegner are thrilled with the note initiative.
“I’ve been in health care for many, many years. I’ve never seen anything like it before. I was just completely blown over,” he stated.
And what of our mystery person who created and posted the notes? The mystery has been solved by some, but the individual has chosen to remain anonymous. In an interview for this story, the person explained why they decided to complete this thoughtful act.
The inspiration came on a day that seemed difficult for the residents.
“I thought it would be nice for them to hear something good about themselves,” this person has stated. “I looked around and found a little note pad. I took 30 little pieces of paper from the pad and wrote out 30 messages. It took about 20 minutes to do after my shift. Afterwards, I went around and posted the notes on the residents’ doors. I even went out of my way to distract some residents who were in their rooms, so they wouldn’t see it was me.”
Our anonymous person is pleased that the simple act has meant something to the residents.
Neal Sylvestre, Executive Director of Continuing Care Northwest for Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA), was greatly impressed by the St. Walburg staff member’s compassionate and selfless action.
“These very significant little acts really contribute to a sense of home and family. A note, a smile, a touch... can totally make a resident’s day,” Sylvestre stated. He applauds the “exceptional act of caring” and the entire team at St. Walburg Health Complex.