Your Stories: A caregiver shares

Judy Polsfut is a strong, proud member of SEIU-West and if asked she will share her long history of care-giving experiences within the community of Swift Current. Judy was a Special Care Aide at the Palliser Regional Care Centre for over 35 years.  She began her care provider role in 1975 and she immediately understood her life’s work to be the most valuable part of the residents day.  She could wipe a tear, bring a smile or simply spend the extra minute reassuring a resident – whatever kind act she extended was always warmly appreciated.  Judy always considered the residents to be part of her extended family.

She chose to remain in her profession because she knew that her work was valued by those who received her care.  Over time, of course, the level of care for the residents has created a significantly heavier workload for care providers like Judy.  Unfortunately, they have not received additional staffing.

In January of 2011, Judy made the decision to leave Palliser.  She left for a number of personal reasons.  She was growing tired of having to complete her work with too few resources.  Unsafe staffing levels, crushing workloads and repeated overtime demands were too much for her.  She felt sad about the quality of care issues with staffing shortages occurring so readily. She did not feel supported by her employer – this is an employer who changed her master rotation from 2 to 3 shifts each week of eight hours each to as many as 6 or 7 shifts each week of six hours each.   She could no longer maximize her call-in to full-time hours …so she was taking a hit financially as well.  After all, who works as a health care provider and is able to make ends meet without that second job?

Fortunately, and unlike others, Judy has not left the health sector entirely.  She now has clients and she works in Home Care so she is able to work more than six hours each day.  She is able to work that second job and her quality of life with her family does not continue to suffer.  Judy knows that the residents will miss her and she worries about the continuing staffing shortages at Palliser.  She understands that the Health Region, in order to management recruitment challenges, has hired a whole host of untrained staff.  Judy worries about them too.  While she misses the residents and her co-workers tremendously, Judy, as with many other good staff, has left her care provider role at Palliser.

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