Elderly Care | Island recipe

The Magdalene Islands’ English-speaking community has developed a unique approach in Quebec to allow seniors to stay home with good support. At the heart of the initiative: relatives who help them at home are paid by CISSS. The success is that the elderly residence had to close due to a shortage of patients.

Posted at 5:00 a.m

Mathieu Perrault

Mathieu Perrault

(Gross-Ile, Quebec) When Keri Dixon’s mother began to feel less well, at the age of 95, he began spending all nights by her bed, at the family home where he grew up. That was in 2019.

“I spent the evening with her, on my way home from work,” says the 64-year-old hairstylist from Gros Isle, one of the two English-speaking islands of the Magdalen Islands. At eight in the morning, my mother’s cousin arrived. I slept a little and went to work. »

Photo provided by Keri Dixon

Keri Dixon and her mother

Cousin received this money from L’Essentiel, a socio-economic organization in the Magdalen Islands. This scenario is common in Grosse-le, where elderly people end up nearly all of their days at home – unlike what has been observed elsewhere in Quebec.

“A few years ago, the only elderly residence in Grosse-le closed because it was not fully occupied,” explains Helena Burke, executive director of the Conseil des anglophones madelinots (CAMI).

Photo submitted by Helena Burke

Helena Burke

In any case, no one from Grosse-Ile lived there. Here, people want to age in their place and their loved ones organize themselves to make it happen. Since today there are fewer children per family and women work, we have to organize ourselves to find paid help. Often the extended family, and CAMI works with CISSS to make it work.

Helena Burke, Executive Director of the Anglophone Madeleines Council (CAMI)

The Center for Integrated Health and Social Services (CISSS) pays a large portion of these people’s salaries.

Grosse-le’s privacy extends to the funeral. The dead are buried in their homes, and the community digs the graves themselves. The only store on the island was closed during the funeral, and until recently, the school was also closed.

Photo from the tourism website ÎLES-DE-LA-MADELEINE

Anglican Church in Gros Ile

A quarter of Gros Ile’s 460 residents are over 65, and year after year, 50 to 75 of them receive assistance from CAMI. Only two elderly Gros-Els reside on another island in the archipelago, due to severe dementia that makes home care so heavy, according to the woman.I Burke.

“When CAMI recommends that someone get paid to help an elderly person, we give them a few days of training,” explains Roméo Deraspe, general manager of L’Essentiel, located in Cap-aux-Meules. L’Essentiel supports approximately 400 Madelinots, including 5 to 15 in Grosse-Île, depending on orders and deaths.

It is a frequent case that one of the children of the elderly in Gros Ile, often a girl, lives with them and gets paid rest from L’Essentiel to go shopping. Many people in Grosse-le work nine weeks a year, usually at a lobster canning factory.

This is the case of Jane Clark, who lived for five years with her mother Irma, 92.

Photo provided by Jan Clark

Jane Clark and her mother

“During nine weeks of working in the factory, someone comes every day to take care of my mother,” says Ms.I Clark. The rest of the time I get help from my sister when I have to go out to run errands. And for social life? “We are quite a few friends in the same situation. We meet up with our moms for card games. For the holidays, it’s even more difficult. Last year, I was lucky, I was able to have two people who stayed alternately for a week with my mom. I went to see my brother in PEI. »



Entry Island


Entry Island

CAMI also looks after dozens of elderly people on Entry Island, the only one in the archipelago not connected to others by road. “I go there by boat or by helicopter when the seas are bad,” says Robin Aitkens, a CAMI volunteer who takes care of Entry Island. “Generally we find people from their families to help them stay at home. For example, I have an 80-year-old who still lives in her house with her daughter. Her niece, paid for by L’Essentiel, comes to shower and keeps her daughter company when she has to. her daughter to go to Cap-aux-Meules. »

Photo provided by Robin Aitkins

Robin Aitkins in a helicopter, flanked by the pilot

Two nurses and a secretary from the CLSC de Grosse-le complete the organizational chart for this unusual approach in Quebec. In the county, 20% of people over 75 and 40% of people over 85 live in residences or reception centers. “We have two nurses, each working a week in a row, says MI Burke. One lives next door to the Grande-Entrée, and the other lives in an apartment above CLSC during her week. The secretary also helps a lot with scheduling and translation. »

The following challenges are teaching hospital caregivers and CHSLD hospital caregivers to communicate with their single-language English-speaking patients, and hiring home helpers from elsewhere in Canada.

says Mrs.I Burke. For employment elsewhere in the country or abroad, one of the problems is housing. People here build themselves, we don’t have a lot of rental apartments. And recent restrictions on buildable areas complicate matters. »

read more

  • 695
    Number of English speakers in Ile de la Madeleine

    Sources: Statistics Canada, CAMI

    The population of Ile de la Madeleine

    Sources: Statistics Canada, CAMI

Leave a Comment