By Annette Dawm, WorkStory Ambassador
Since October 2015, Shelby Hamilton has been working as a Personal Support Worker at the Country Care Seniors Residence in Allenford, Ontario. This position also allows her to pursue an education via correspondence while working and raising her three children, Paige, Lexie and the newest edition to the family, Bryon. At the end of every day, Shelby goes home knowing that she has not only improved the lives of her clients but she has also paved the way for a brighter future for herself and her kids:
“I love helping people and I love how happy my work makes the seniors and how rewarding it is to see the smiles on their faces every day,” says Shelby. “I have been through a lot, and when I was pregnant with my son, I realized I wasn't where I wanted to be…. I wanted to help people and be happy and have a rewarding job that could also help me provide a better more rewarding life and future for my kids….” As a single mom who was left during each pregnancy, Shelby learned the hard way that she needed to be able to depend on herself, and her dependability has served her well in this career, knowing that the seniors count on her to be there as part of their daily routine.
Shelby’s work day begins at 7 AM and ends “after tea time” at 4 PM. “As soon as I get there I get the residents up and cleaned up, and dressed for the day, and get them all to the breakfast table.” She assists them with both their food and medication throughout the day. “After breakfast, I assist them to their rooms or the living room (or wherever they want to go).” Soon it is time for lunch, which she prepares, and then she helps the residents once again with their meal and medication. After the meal is over, Shelby cleans up once again and returns the residents to their room of choice. Before you know it, it’s time for tea!
Within the first few weeks on the job, Shelby realized that a lot of the people in her care did not receive many visitors, and there were hardly any young children coming in to say hello. With that in mind and Halloween coming up at the time, she took it upon herself to “brighten their day”.
“On the Wednesday before Halloween I got off work, came home, got my kids dressed up and took them out to Country Care! All the residents were so happy! They all had smiles on their faces! The only male resident who is 96 years old put Lexie (my 3 year old) on his knee and talked with her and then took Bryon (my 3 month old son) … and started to give him a horsey ride on his knee.” Shelby recalls another resident in palliative care with Alzheimer’s Disease, who also had a positive reaction to her children: “[She] very rarely smiles and very rarely speaks and she was smiling ear to ear and talking to the kids! It brought tears to my eyes to see how happy it made them and warmed my heart.”
For Shelby Hamilton, positivity and passion are two key things needed in this line of work for both those who are giving and receiving care: “The one piece of advice I would give to someone entering this field is that you have to have a passion for it. You have to love what you do or else you won't be happy and that will also impact the seniorsbecause they will sense that and it will have a negative impact on everyone, but especially the seniors suffering with Alzheimer's and dementia.” As for her own success, Shelby credits her children for giving her a reason to keep moving forward and for becoming a better person. She hopes to inspire other moms along the way as well, knowing that the journey in life is not always an easy one, especially when raising a family: “For other hard working moms out there, I would just like to say, tough times make you stronger, dark times will get brighter and sad times will get happier. Keep pushing forward, keep your chin up, make goals and reach for them. It will make you feel amazing and will make an amazing life for yourself and your children! My kids are my rock and are the reason why I am where I am today. I don't know where I would be without them.”