The Big Move – Volunteers give comfort during major changes


Moving is stressful at the best of times. Now imagine moving 376 people from a place where many have lived for years and called home.

Having a helping hand from somebody – or many somebodies – can make all the difference!

From September 18 to 19, 2014, 84 volunteers assisted staff at the Hoyles Escasoni Complex to do just that. They gave comfort and crucial support to our long-term care residents moving to the new St. John’s Long-Term Care Facility.

Hoyles Escasoni Complex, Eastern Health

Hoyles Escasoni Complex, Eastern Health

Where do you start?

“The most important part of any move is the comfort and wellbeing of the people, in this case, our residents,” said Judy Cook, coordinator of volunteer resources, long-term care.

“Involving volunteers who had been at the Hoyles Escasoni Complex for quite some time, helped the residents through this major change. These volunteers were already part of the culture so it was a very natural fit to have them involved. In fact, they were excited to participate!”

Once the volunteers were secured, Judy prepared them for the big day. She assigned tasks to each volunteer, and as the move crept closer, gave them an orientation to the new facility. After four-years of planning and many long hours, they were ready for the big move.

The St. John’s long-term care facility. Photo by Greg Locke Photography, courtesy of Marco Services Limited.

The St. John’s long-term care facility. Photo by Greg Locke Photography, courtesy of Marco Services Limited.

The Big Day

On September 18, 2015 the volunteers showed up bright and early to assist the staff with moving and supporting the residents.

To make the move run smoothly, the volunteers were spilt into different groups or teams and were given tasks and specific coloured t-shirts to distinguish them from other teams.

Volunteers welcomed residents and assisted with unpacking their personal belongings once they were settled.

“Moving can be tough for anyone,” Judy said. “So for our residents we made sure people were with them every step of the way.”

Two of those volunteers were Brian and Patsy Whelan. Typically, Brian and Patsy are volunteers with the Spiritual Journey program where they play music for the residents, but for those two days, they put down their instruments and helped the residents they came to know so well.

“After volunteering for about 13 years, I came to know each resident by name,” Brain Whelan, volunteer with Eastern Health said. “So, I decided to help with the two day move.”

Brian and Patsy Whelan with Walter Lawlor, resident at the St. John’s long-term care facility

Brian and Patsy Whelan with Walter Lawlor, resident at the St. John’s long-term care facility

Volunteers helped the residents get settled in their new home. They did anything from unpacking to comforting the residents.

“We did whatever they asked, even if it was just to keep them company,” Brian said. “I remember one of the residents loved being read to at night, so before I left, I read him a story.”

Judy said that throughout the two day move, she witnessed a lot small acts of kindness like Brian’s. The volunteers helped to make the two day move a success through their hard work and dedication.

Carol Ann Mason, clinical lead for the move, echoed Judy’s thoughts by saying, “having the support of our volunteers during the move was wonderful!

“They were able to help some residents with their unpacking, and at other times, just by offering their time and company, they helped make the transition smoother.”

After two long days, the big move was complete and the sun set on a new chapter in the lives of the residents and volunteers at the St. John’s long-term care facility.

The St. John’s long-term care facility. Photo by Greg Locke Photography, courtesy of Marco Services Limited.

The St. John’s long-term care facility. Photo by Greg Locke Photography, courtesy of Marco Services Limited.

For more information on Volunteering with Eastern Health visit: http://www.easternhealth.ca/WebInWeb.aspx?d=1&id=832&p=53

This story was written by Brandi Roberts, a public relations co-operative education student with Eastern Health’s Corporate Communications Department.

One response to “The Big Move – Volunteers give comfort during major changes

  1. Thank you Ms. Roberts for a very interesting and enjoyable article, The volunteers should be very proud of themselves. I only hope that I would receive such kindness if I was ever in the same situation.

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