Since VHA’s President and CEO Kathryn Nichol began her new role in March 2021, she’s been connecting with people across the organization to learn more about their stories, perspectives and journeys in home care. In this video, Kathryn sits down with Amr Elimam, a Client Partner and Co-chair of VHA’s Client and Carer Advisory Council to talk about what it means to deliver client-centred care, volunteering with VHA, and his experiences as a family caregiver.
Kathryn: So Amr, you have been a caregiver partner to VHA for about four years and the co-chair of our Client and Carer Advisory Committee for most of that time.
You’re also caregiver to your sister Dina who who is a client of VHA and your contribution is really very appreciated and highly valuable and I want to know, what is it that made you want to be a caregiver partner to VHA and what motivated you to give us your very precious volunteer hours?
Amr: It was a complaint actually. My sister had been a client of VHA for a couple of years but at that point in time I wasn’t really her caregiver. My mom was and after my mom passed away I became a caregiver. I was struggling with a lot of new caregiving issues and there was one day I was frustrated about an issue at VHA and I picked up the phone and asked to speak to the CEO and the line was transferred right to the CEO. It was suggested that ‘hey maybe maybe you can think about joining. I had no idea what it was. I started to be open to the idea you know, nothing hurts in trying, and I participated in one conference call and then I remember that because in that conference call there was a whole bunch of caregivers on the call and I was really lonely and isolated. I felt I was the only person in the world having uh dealing with these new caregiving issues and all of a sudden when I heard these people talking it was like just like ‘oh my god there are people like me.’ And there aren’t even words to describe how I’m feeling and what I’m going through so that kind of got me in the door to say hey maybe there’s something in it for you. The second part which I found as time grew by is that I can actually influence what’s going on, so rather than sitting at home and be upset about something or wish there was something that would be different, I can actually make changes.
Kathryn: So I’m still very much on a learning curve, and I think that what I need to know from you is what do I need to keep top of mind to ensure our care and service is client and family focused?
Amr: For me I always think about it. It’s all about the person sitting at home on a Sunday morning waiting for someone to take them out of bed. This is what it’s really all about so coming up with innovative solutions to the current shortage of talent, that’s that’s a big one for me. Something else, like virtual care, is ways that we can utilize the resources we have better to reach out to people maybe who can receive certain types of care at home without having the resources travel. These are these are things I think could be of immediate benefit and I’m advocating for that. It’s not to say that the view on the long term is not important- it’s just as important, but to me, who I care about is my sister sitting at home and the care she received today.
Kathryn: So you have just joined our Quality Improvement and Risk Management Committee of the Board. What is it that made you want to take this fairly big commitment and what is it that you you’d like to contribute?
Amr: Through the time I’ve spent engaging on the Client Advisory I’ve come to appreciate and respect what VHA is about. You’ve got a great management team. There’s a true commitment to people like my sister. I feel that there is a real keen interest to deal with things and and get things right for the client. It made me more interested to be able to join and be able to influence the bigger decisions. I want to use this chance to mention my colleagues on the Advisory Council. These are clients and caregivers who bring a very excellent perspectives to the table and representing other clients and caregivers who work extremely well together extremely, well with VHA management not being shy about voicing their opinion but maintaining a positive environment and working for the benefit of all the clients and caregivers and these folks have really been doing an amazing job and and I think that the Advisory Council is a great initiative by VHA.
Kathryn: Thank you for being part of it and yeah we’re always looking for folks to show interest in being part of that council, continuing to grow it as people move on to other roles like the board. Thank you.