“Seniors’ care has always been my number one.”

A Q&A with long-time Eldercare supporter, and current Board President, Jeanette Funke-Furber

How long have you been involved with Eldercare?
In 1985 I became a Nurse Administrator at the former Juan de Fuca Hospitals, which included Glengarry, Aberdeen, Mt. Tolmie, and Priory long-term care homes.

The Juan de Fuca Hospitals Foundation had been established three years earlier, in 1982, and was renamed the Greater Victoria Eldercare Foundation in 2001.

Working at Juan de Fuca was the best job I ever had. It was a challenging and wonderful experience. I’ve been involved ever since.

What was unique about the Juan de Fuca Hospitals?
Back then, gerontology was still a relatively new field. What differentiated us is that we had an educator and researcher onsite – Jessie Mantle – who created an atmosphere of enquiry and collaboration.
Jessie was the first Clinical Nurse Specialist in Geriatrics in Canada. She worked half-time at Juan de Fuca and half-time at the University of Victoria. It was a quite a big step for our organization to partner with a university to create this unique dual role.

Jessie involved staff (from nurses to building managers to pharmacists) and students in on-the-ground research and contributed immensely to better understand – and continuously improve – seniors’ care. Her motto was “Get yourself into the shoes of the person you’re trying to help.”

We were quite forward-thinking in those early days at Juan de Fuca. It excites me to see echoes of that time with Eldercare’s recent investment of $1M towards as a new model for long-term care in Canada, opening in Comox this summer. Providence Living at The Views, based on the Dutch dementia village model of care, includes a 5-year research initiative which Eldercare is thrilled to be involved in.

After all these years, why do you choose to support Eldercare?
I’ve seen first-hand the difference donations make and that’s a good feeling inside.

From the early days, the foundation worked closely with the care team to learn what the priorities were. The foundation was there for us, and we knew it. They gave us a future to count on.

When I retired, I believed so strongly that the foundation’s research initiatives must continue that my husband Robert and I created a research award for graduate students. We donated then, we donate now, and we even have Eldercare in our Will.

I give to other important causes, but seniors’ care has always been my number one. I think too often seniors are forgotten. Perhaps it’s because we don’t see ourselves as ever becoming a senior, or don’t want to need a high level of care in our later years. But most of us will.

What does the best possible care for seniors look like to you?
Simple. Treat seniors in such a way that they still have their dignity.

When caring for seniors we need to ask ourselves: what could I do better to help this person be the person they still want to be? We cannot say, well they have dementia, they don’t understand what’s going on. Yes, they do understand what’s going on. We need to appreciate seniors’ capabilities and support them, not just wipe them out.

Keeping active is also important. Maybe a senior with mobility issues cannot dance anymore but they used to love dancing. They may not be able to dance but maybe they can sway their arms back-and-forth while seated in a wheelchair. They can move where they can. And we must support and encourage that.

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