What You Do Matters – Bringing Empathy and Joy to Residents

April 25, 2022 | News

How did you decide what you wanted to do for a living? Sometimes choosing a career path is a long, strenuous process, but for Tonya Neufeld, a Care Aide at Menno Hospital, the choice was easy.

Ever since she was a teenager, Tonya felt drawn to the seniors in her community. Being in their presence and hearing their stories brought her joy and quickly cemented her decision to become a Care Aide. Now she gets to return the favour.

“The best part of my job is bringing joy, empathy, understanding and a listening ear to the residents, families and my coworkers,” Tonya says.

Tonya’s passion for those she cares for is obvious. Using a person-centred care approach, she always makes sure her residents’ needs are addressed with respect and compassion. Her empathetic approach helps build a connection with them. And it was this strong connection that has made the effects of the pandemic hit so hard.

“The biggest challenges for me in the past two years was seeing residents separated from their loved ones and the lack of physical contact. Staff members were told to social distance as much as possible—it was a struggle for me and felt unnatural, seeing the residents I cared deeply for and not being able to hug them. I saw anniversaries and a 100th birthday celebrated 6-feet apart with no physical contact,” Tonya says.

“Being in the presence of residents is a source of tremendous joy, it’s heartbreaking to distance yourself from those you care deeply about. Thankfully, protective layers such as vaccinations allow us to be closer but mindful,” she says.

Now working in a screener position at Menno Hospital, Tonya plays an important role in allowing residents to see their loved ones safely. In many ways, this position is an extension of the reason she became a care aide—allowing the community to be in the presence of seniors and hear their stories!