Google “Humanitarian:” Social Work St. Lawrence-style

Kim Slaney figures the seed for her social work career was planted in Grade Five. As a schoolgirl in the Burin Peninsula community of Lawn, she has a vivid memory of one of her teachers showing slides from a mission trip to Peru and thinking, “I’d like to do that!”

That memory and the desire to help others stayed with her through her teenage years as a member of Allied Youth – and when she graduated high school, social work was a natural choice. Her primary ‘mission’ field is on home territory at the U. S. Memorial Health Centre’s long-term care residence in St. Lawrence.

U. S. Memorial Health Centre, St. Lawrence

U. S. Memorial Health Centre, St. Lawrence.

“I love people – and everything about them,” says Kim. “It’s about kindness, and kindness is built in to what I do.”

A social worker in a long-term care setting gets lots of opportunities to help people with all kinds of needs and challenges.

Kim says she helps with residents’ assessments and provides counseling to help the men and women adjust to their new surroundings. Many long-term care residents struggle with dementia and their families also need help adjusting to the relationship losses that go along with that. She helps to make appointments with doctors or lawyers; she helps with telephone hook-ups and sometimes even shops for clothing and personal items.

She sings to those who like music…and when someone has no family, she helps to plan – and even takes part – in the funeral service.

If that sounds like going above and beyond the call of duty…well, it is – kind of! But Kim says social work is a little different in a small community and she tends to do whatever needs to done.

‘We’re like a family and we take a lot of pride in our facility here at U. S. Memorial. Our goal is to make our residents happy and comfortable.

“We’re advocates for residents and I take that role very seriously. And we will never have anyone die alone.”

(l-r) Long-Term Care resident Frank Patton,  Social Worker Kim Slaney, Long-Term Care resident Thomas Scott.

(l-r) Long-Term Care resident Frank Patton, Social Worker Kim Slaney, Long-Term Care resident Thomas Scott.

But the main focus is on living….and making life in a long-term care home as much as possible like the outport life they were used to. With that in mind, the long-term care staff worked with the Burin Peninsula Health Care Foundation to mount a ‘Caring Hearts’ campaign.

The result: a flower garden out behind the nursing home – and an old-fashioned clothesline – so when they look out their windows, or spend time outdoors, they’re able to see and smell freshly-washed clothes blowing in the breeze!

Not your typical job description, for sure, Kim says with a laugh!

“Then again, it doesn’t feel like a job to me. It’s not about the money; it’s about kindness – and you don’t charge for kindness.”

The flower garden at U. S. Memorial Health Centre

The flower garden at U. S. Memorial Health Centre.

Those kinds of decisions are obviously Kim’s own choice, but her caring nature, communications skills and team player approach make her a valuable asset to U. S. Memorial, its residents and fellow staff according to Rosalie Dupre, the manager of Resident/Patient Care at U. S. Memorial.

“Our residents light up every time Kim walks into their rooms or stops by the living or dining room,” Rosalie adds. “Whether it’s for a quick little word, or a lengthy interaction, each visit is always accompanied by a gentle hug and a beaming smile. She’s caring, respectful and knowledgeable.”

“I challenge anyone to leave a visit with Kim not feeling that there is hope, a way to resolve their problem or with a follow-up meeting to find a way through their dilemma!”

Helping others is way of life with Kim. Maybe that’s why she often finds herself Googling “humanitarian” on the internet – in search of other ways to be of service. And, why in February of this year, she realized her Grade Five dream, and went on a mission trip to India to offer counseling and leadership skills to villages there.

“The people in those villages were financially poor, but so rich in spirit,” Kim says. “They radiated love and gratitude and I returned home feeling such gratitude for what I have.” A gratitude that she continues to ‘pay forward’ in her home base, as well.

Social Worker Kim Slaney with Long-Term Care resident Frank Patton

Social Worker Kim Slaney with long-term care resident Frank Patton.

Kim says the simplest of gestures to the men and women she serves in St. Lawrence can make all the difference, and often turns out to be the biggest thing you can do for them.

“A smile. The touch of a hand. Be present for them – and you’ve already accomplished 95 per cent of what you’re trying to do,” she adds.

“It’s a privilege to serve people who can’t do for themselves in a safe and respectful way. It gives them dignity and honour – I’m blessed to be the employee that gets to be there for them.”

This story was written by Deborah Collins, a communications manager with Eastern Health, based in St. John’s.

34 responses to “Google “Humanitarian:” Social Work St. Lawrence-style

  1. Caring for others is very rewarding and takes a special kind of person like Kim to do it right! Good job Kim!

  2. I want to commend Kim Slaney on her wonderful work with patients/guests in her area. Knowing Kim it sounds just like her and it is always nice to hear that her work is ‘COMMITMEN’ to those she works with and it doesn’t sound like a job.

    Congratulations Kim!

    Sister Betty Morrissey
    St. Clare’s Mercy Hospital

  3. Thank you Kim for all you do for the residents and their families at USM. You are a true humanitarian. Your infectious smile and the loving way you care for the residents is remarkable. You go far beyond your “job” we consider you family. A hug, a smile a gentle touch is just all in a days work for Kim! A truly beautiful spirit!! Congratulations,

  4. Congratulations, Kim! What a beautiful story to read about kindness and what would seem to be a ‘simple’ gesture to you can mean a world of difference to another:)

  5. Kim is a very caring person. My Mom was a resident at US memorial so I saw what a Beautiful and Caring person Kim is and the kindness she shows to the residents and their families !!!!

  6. KIM is a caring, kind and beautiful Lady ,She is one who enjoys her work and goes beyond so many times ,to help anyone , she is like that a life time ,i known her as a kid ,ys she is a true humanitarian,U.S Memorial is blessed to have her on their staff!!!!

  7. Congrats Kim , my precious dad is at your facility, please give Harvey
    Strickland a big hug from his daughter…..thx Dot

  8. A great story about an excellent social worker during social work month! Kim, you promote the belief that people are truly ageless! Congratulations on the great work you do!

  9. Congratulations Kim you are a very kind & loving person my mother in law & father in law was a resident in us memorial and we could see what a beautiful kind & loving person you are to residents & their families !!!! Hugs to you Kim

  10. Kim, to say that you go above and beyond the call of duty is truely an understatement!!! You are an exceptional person!!!
    My dad, Thomas Scott, is a resident at US Memorial, and although it is one of the most difficult decisions that our little family has ever had to make, you made the transition and acceptance for him and my mother, as easy as it could possibly have been. Your loving care and attention, and all the “little things” you do are VERY MUCH APPRECIATED! You have made a huge impact on our lives and knowing that I am able to call you and talk to you about my father’s needs when necessary is very comforting. THANK YOU FOR BEING THE SPECIAL, CARING PERSON THAT YOU ARE!!!

  11. Our Mom was a resident of U.S.Memorial Health Centre & when Kim said that their goal is to make their residents happy & comfortable well they sure did that & much more for Mom.Thank you to Kim & all the staff for all they do.

  12. Congratulations Kim!! Your loving spirit, kindness and willingness to be there for others are just a small part of what makes you the wonderful person you are 🙂

  13. I have not met you , Kim, but it would be a pleasure to do so. Hope you can continue to do the good work you are doing.

  14. Kim you are a blessing to all the people you work with. God Bless you for all the kindness you show to others.

  15. Kim, to say the least it was a hard decision to make for my husband to go into a nursing was at the point where I could not manage on my own . when I walked in the USM for the first time and saw you there and how caring you were with the people that were there it made it much easier for me. . Tom speaks highly of you. your smile and kindness tells all . Kim your kindness makes you the wonderful person you are . we will dance again with the residents next time we are both there together. God Bless YOU IN YOUR WORK !!!!!

  16. Congratulations Kim!! You truly are one of the kindest people I know!! Your smile does light up every room!! Keep doing what you are doing as you are proving that one person can make a huge difference!!

  17. Such a good news story.All too often we only hear of the other.. However today its all about Kim and the wonderful kindness and motivational spirit of this lovely humanitarian.She is an inspiration to so many loved ones and has touched a multitude of hearts along her journey.Kim I commend you,Indeed you are a shining star.My tribute to you comes from an ancient poet.

    Drop a stone into the water
    in a moment its gone
    But there are a hundred ripples
    Circling on and on and on
    Say a word of cheer and Splendor
    in a moment it is gone
    But there are a hundred ripples
    Circling on and on.
    God Bless.

  18. Great story!! Kim is an amazing person and perfectly ties together multiple aspects of support and caring – at home and abroad. A few years ago she supported a senior who hoped to make a difference internationally; the project and partnership was a success!

  19. Awesome story! I don’t beleive I have ever seen Kim without a smile on her face. She does great work and it is a pleasure to work with you. I, like you, wated to be a social worker right from my early years of life and it is truly a rewarding profession. Keep up the great work!!

  20. Kim What a lovely tribute to you. It makes me very happy to see so many people showing thier love and respect for. I too want to share my respect for you.
    I remember a session here at the Burin Peninsula Health Care Centre put off by Kim for any staff member who wanted to attend and I was fortunate to be there. Your gentleness, your smile and words of wisdom stuck with me all these years. Don’t strees yourselves was the gest of the session and your advisce to us was, Before you can help anyone you have to fill your “self tank” first. Thank you for that and thank you for being you. Angels do exist God Bless

  21. We are blessed to have Kim working with us at USM. Staff, Residents and Residents’ families all benefit from her presence here and we really do know how very fortunate we are….

  22. I have worked with Kim over the years and she has always given 150% to everything she has ever been involved in. She is an inspiration!

  23. As someone who knew Kim from her Allied Youth days it is no surprsie to me that she is the giving and caring person that she is. Kudos t you Kim and the many kind throughst and thanks exprssed by others says it all.

  24. I have seen your kindness to my mom Mary Walsh Kim and we as a family are very thankful to you Kim for being the person you are. Kindness and attention are what all human beings look for every day of our lives and the residents at USM receive this and more from you. It was so very hard to put mom in a home and it’s still hard to leave her when we visit and the time arrives to go home, but we know also how blessed we are to be leaving her with such caring care givers such as the staff at USM, You Kim and the staff at the home are second to none. Thank you for the care my mom is receiving and the genuine love you give to her.

  25. Great work Kim !! You truly are the real essence of a true humanitarian and treat all that are fortunate enough to know and work with you with great dignity ,respect and caring thoughts . Keep up the great work, the world needs more Kim Slaneys.

  26. Kim. My sister Shirley and I will never forget your caring attitude and good heart while our Mom was a resident at U.S. Memorial for the two short weeks she spent there. Your friendly smile meant a lot. You definitely chose the right career by following your dream. You make a big difference in the daily lives of these residents. Hats of to you Kim for always going that extra step to make everyone feel better during those difficult times. Love you❤️

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