Every day, VHA caregivers create opportunities for more independence for the clients and families they serve. Each year, we invite clients to nominate their caregivers who have gone above and beyond to provide spectacular care for VHA’s Barbara Blackstock-Cody Client Choice Awards. Earlier this year, before COVID-19 made its footprint on history, we took the extra step of mailing our VOICE client newsletter to client’s homes to make sure as many client and family members were aware of these awards as possible. The response was once again overwhelming with over 300 nominations with stories of extraordinary efforts and tremendous passion and commitment.
A selection committee made up of representatives across VHA, as well as a client partner, embarked on the rigorous and thorough task of selecting this year’s 10 winners. Join us in celebrating the 2020 Client Choice Award winners:
Aliya Bhaloo, Nurse
“Aliya’s connection to my daughter and her professional knowledge really embody excellence in nursing care,” says Alison, the mother of one of Aliya’s clients. “Many people underestimate children with disabilities or talk to the adult instead of the child – not Aliya. She connects with Gavi, listens to her, and cares for her,” adds Alison. Alison remembers when Aliya accompanied Gavi on a school trip to see a play. “The employees at the theatre wanted to make Gavi sit by herself without her friends in a wheelchair section because ‘that’s the rule’. Gavi was quite upset at being isolated and Aliya found a staff member and convinced them to let Gavi sit with her friends. Aliya had done the right thing and made sure that Gavi was treated with the kindness and respect she deserves. We are very lucky to have Aliya as Gavi’s school nurse!”
Annette Hall, Extreme Cleaner
Annette’s positivity and motivation are exceptional. “I was continually struck by Annette’s unfailing ability to maintain her humanity while fearlessly and tirelessly delving into some fairly unpleasant tasks. She was thorough, detailed and reassuring in her approach,” says one client. Annette always takes the time to make sure her clients feel empowered throughout their extreme cleaning journeys together. Once client noted that Annette even went the extra mile to bring their neglected plants back to life at the end of a long day of cleaning. Her clients say that Annette’s work has changed their lives for the better, and they feel thankful to have met her.
Amleset Tewelde, Personal Support Worker
“When I talk about Amleset, I get tears in my eyes because she takes such good care of my mom,” says one of Amleset’s clients. Her other clients share the same appreciation for the care Amleset provides on a regular basis. Amleset is the sunshine in many clients’ lives. She takes the time to make sure all of her clients have a positive visit, doing more than her regular duties and sitting down with her clients to truly listen to their needs. Many of her clients see Amleset as part of their family, one even refers to her as their sister. They all feel so lucky to have Amleset in their lives.
Buu Vien Ho, Occupational Therapist
“Buu Vien Ho was like a light at the end of a very long, dark tunnel,” says Suzanne, the primary caregiver for her mother Shirley, a VHA client. “She gave us her all and more.” Buu Vien Ho’s clients say her exceptional skills and assessment, and ability to educate as an Occupational Therapist (OT) has helped them live with overall improved mental and physical health, and helps them feel safe, secure and comfortable in their day-to-day lives. One client shared how Buu Vien Ho helped her apply for funding for equipment and another noted how she checks in even when a visit isn’t scheduled. As one client puts it, “One could say that going above and beyond to assist with things relating to my health and independence is her job, but to go above and beyond as she did to support my dreams is something else entirely, and I will be forever grateful!”
Dawattie Sankar, Personal Support Worker
Dawattie makes a significant impact on the families she cares for. Domencia’s two sons required personal support care when they were in their early 50s. “Needing a Personal Support Worker to help you perform daily functions could make one feel like ‘less of a man’, but not with Dawattie around. She had such a way of making my boys feel no different than any other person, she treated them with such respect and dignity that they forgot about their illness when she was there.” Domencia now needs care herself and her family feels grateful that Dawattie is caring for her. “Dawattie is amazing at dealing with any issues and knowing when to involve me”, says Domencia’s daughter. “She is amazing at her job, kind and caring. We feel like she is part of our family and we don’t know what we would do without her.”
Dusanka Kalabic, Nurse
When client Rosa was discharged from hospital last year, her daughter Maria found herself overwhelmed with a long list of conditions to learn about to ensure her mother could stay safe and healthy at home. Dusanka’s care made a world of a difference to their family. “It was such a scary time for me as the sole caregiver for my mother,” says Maria. “Dusanka had a way of not only providing care to my mother, but she also made time for me.” Maria recalls one moment she confided about her worries to Dusanka, tears in her eyes. Dusanka’s response gave Maria the comfort and strength she needed. “She said ‘Don’t worry, all you have to do is call me and I will come to help.’ Dusanka really helped us through that difficult time and my mother recovered beautifully.”
Janette Blas, Personal Support Worker
“Janette brings calm, humour, warmth and a sense that all will be well when she is with my parents”, explains the daughter of a husband and wife that Janette takes care of. Janette’s warm personality radiates from her as she brings happiness to each of her clients. “She tends to me every morning with a sweet singing tune and a quiet competence,” adds another one of Janette’s clients. Janette goes above and beyond when completing her tasks and makes sure I am fully taken care of before leaving for the day. “I wish that all PSWs were like her. She is the best PSW I have ever had.”
Maria Lercy Del Sole, Personal Support Worker
“I have never met anyone with a more caring and compassionate work ethic,” says the daughter of one of Maria’s clients. From bathing, meal preparation, grooming and everything else that comes with the job of a PSW, Maria’s clients say the way she goes about her job and her positive nature always brings a sense of calm and relaxation to their day. It is clear to Maria’s clients that she loves what she does, they can feel her happiness when she is caring for them. “Maria brings joy to my life. I eagerly await her arrival and I’m sad when she has to go. She has renewed my will to live,” says client Rosalinda.
Petra Purcell, Personal Support Worker
Petra is a godsend for her client Lori, who can still remember the day that Petra came into her life. “On that first day she walked in, she knew exactly what needed to be done for me, and how to do it without being asked. All I had to do was show her once where things were and she never forgot,” remembers Lori. “Petra even created a schedule of chores she can fit in during her visits, including laundry and setting out the bedding like it was in a department store!” Lori knows she is very lucky to have Petra in her life. As her late husband summed up, “Petra, I want you to know that you are not a PSW to us, you are a member of our family.” Lori can’t imagine anybody who is more deserving of the Client Choice Award than Petra.
Sangeeta Maharjan, Nurse
Sangeeta brings such extraordinary passion and professionalism to her role as a nurse that she was nominated for a Client Choice Award by an incredible 27 clients! Many clients have shared that Sangeeta’s amazing work ethic and kind nature brings them peace and comfort during their recoveries and regular care, even when they are going through particularly challenging or painful moments in their lives. “I’m holding back tears when I talk about her and how she has taken care of my father,” says Katarina, the daughter of one VHA client. “She’s a very loving person, and we wouldn’t wish for another person to do her job,” says another. All of Sangeeta’s clients have one thing in common – they think she’s simply the best and can’t wait to see her win a Client Choice Award.
We recognize that 2020 has been a challenging year for all of us, and yet, it’s clear that exceptional client-centred care remains shining at the heart of VHA even under unfamiliar and unprecedented circumstances. In addition to those listed above, we know there are many more VHA heroes who go above and beyond every day working on the frontlines of home care or supporting our teams remotely or from the office. Thank you for your continued dedication and excellence in all that you do. We remain hopeful we will be able to celebrate our 2020 winners in person later this year and if not, we will come together virtually to honor their efforts.
Congratulations to our winners and nominees!