A Sidney health care worker has won a top individual award for her work.
Lisa MacKenzie, a health care assistant (HCA) at Sidney All Care Residence, won the 2020 BC Care Provider of the Year in the category of long-term care as awarded by the BC Care Providers Association representing non-governmental operators of care services in British Columbia.
“It’s a real honour to receive the award because of what that award represents, and I know that there are so many people deserving of that award,” said MacKenzie, who has been in the field for 17 years, five of them at Sidney All Care Residence. “So I was really honoured and I really appreciate being chosen. I feel like it is such a privilege to support seniors. Not only is it a job for me, but it is an honour and a passion of mine.”
It is a passion with a distinct personal history.
“I have always been very close with my grandparents and my great-grandma,” she said. While still at high school, she volunteered at the Saanich Peninsula Hospital to work with seniors, painting nails, giving hand massages and visiting with them.
“I just felt it was a really good fit for me. I just love being with seniors.”
MacKenzie received the award Oct. 20 during a virtual ceremony held during SafeCare BC’s Hearts and Hands online conference for health care assistants.
One of MacKenzie’s strengths is her ability to connect with patients, while working in her role as a bath aide. “I like to make it a spa experience, but it is so much more than that to me,” she said. “It’s connecting with the person. It’s all about the person that I care for, getting to know them, connecting with them at whatever stage of life they might be at.”
This process may involve learning something about patients by way of their family members or connecting through a piece of art in their place of residence.
“You get close with each resident, as you get to know them over time,” she said. “It’s a really special experience being able to be there for them,” she said.
MacKenzie said this process depends on the respective cognitive abilities of the patients, which might mean that the only connection happens through a touch or smile.
COVID-19 has of course made this more difficult. It has not only led to enhanced screening prior to the start of work and cleaning procedures while at work, but also forced MacKenzie to wear a mask. While necessary, it has changed interactions.
“I love to smile and they (patients) cannot see my smile,” she said. “But it’s amazing. Even though I am smiling underneath the mask, I often see them smiling back at me, because may be they can see it in my eyes.”
This unspoken level of commitment and caring by MacKenzie also shines through in comments from Sheila Minten, vice-president of Sidney All Care Residence.
“There aren’t enough wonderful words in our language to accurately describe a person like Lisa,” said Minten. “She is the true definition of a caring individual. Not only does she go above and beyond every single time she’s at work to make our residents feel safe, loved and well-cared for, she also extends this caring nature to her teammates.”
COVID-19 has drawn a lot of attention to the essential work of individuals like MacKenzie. She though, draws attention to the collaborative nature of her work that starts with the patient themselves, includes other staff, and extends to family members.
“It’s a real collaborative effort to make our residents’ lives enriched,” she said. “I love supporting the person and learning to communicate with them at whatever stage of life they may be at, supporting them emotionally, listening to them, understanding them, encouraging their abilities and their strengths, so I can promote their independence.”
In other words, the job goes beyond mere physical care and individual one-on-one care. “We will love and support your loved one, like our own family when you aren’t able to be there — working together as a team to enrich their lives and provide the best possible care,” she said.
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