Kelly Maloney remembers meeting Louise for the first time two years ago – “she was spunky, intelligent and had a sparkling light behind her eyes.” Louise was living in an apartment geared towards individuals with disabilities. Louise is deaf and has cerebral palsy. Louise’s sister Faith is her primary caregiver, managing her day-to-day living, and she also has an amazing extended family that supports her.
Kelly is a Recreationist in the Adult Day Program at VON Oxford, but also worked one-on-one with Louise through the VON Passport Program; providing additional support for Louise once a week. At that time, Louise could perform activities of daily living, do her own laundry and would get on the bus to go swimming at the YMCA.
Around May 2017, everything changed. They don’t know what happened, but all of a sudden Louise couldn’t do anything for herself. The light in her eyes went away. She refused to eat, couldn’t perform simple tasks, and lost weight. Louise was hospitalized and they had numerous tests done. Everything came back normal.
Her sister Faith, took her into her home, cared for her around-the-clock and made every attempt to make her well again but she wasn’t coming out of it. At one point, they thought they were going to lose her completely. After months of little progress, it was the Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) that recommended Louise participate in the Adult Day Program at VON Oxford.
Faith began to take Louise to the Ingersoll Adult Day program three days a week because Kelly worked out of that location primarily. She then started coming to the Woodstock location every Friday as well.
Kelly’s goal for Louise was to encourage independence. It meant structured activities and they worked on improving and strengthening all of her cognitive, social, emotional and physical functions “We would put a spoon in her hand as a starting point,” says Kelly.
Kelly believes that “structure was one of Louise’s main tools in her healing.” It took almost a year of the Adult Day program to see Louise’s light come back. She’s now back in her apartment and is doing her own laundry and dishes again. “She used to sit on the edge of the group and now she sits in the middle,” says Kelly. “Her spunk is back. Everybody in the group noticed the differences.”
“This is why I believe so strongly in care-giving and in recreation. Louise was able to find her independence again,” says Kelly. Kelly says that “We are just one piece of her healing – a great piece. But, it was Faith who never gave up on Louise. She worked hard and was her best advocate.”
Faith says “she can’t say enough about how VON staff assessed her needs and met her right where she was and continued to adapt to her changes. The whole team worked together incredibly well, always upbeat and positive.”