The Family Mentor Program at Baycrest is a volunteer peer-support program offered to family members of a new resident to the Apotex Jewish Home for the Aged. All family mentors are registered volunteers who have had a close relative living in the Apotex. They understand Baycrest procedures and address care and quality of life concerns from a family perspective.
The Family Mentor Program was created in response to gaps in the admissions process that were identified during a multidisciplinary review by staff, volunteers, clients and family members. The review identified the need to improve the way Baycrest prepared for and greeted new residents and their families to make the process more seamless, friendly and welcoming. Family members took a lead role in the design, development and implementation of the program, working closely with Volunteer Services, the Social Work Practice Chief and the Director of Care and Resident Experience.
The goal is to help alleviate the stress and anxiety that new families often feel when moving a loved one into the Home, by providing information, comfort and emotional support, answering questions and helping families navigate the system during the crucial first days and weeks. Mentors strive to have a positive impact on the transition for both the resident and the family; by helping them feel more confident, at ease and empowered to participate in their loved one’s care.
Family Mentors provide a broad range of support by phone, email and in person. Whenever possible a Family Mentor will phone the family member prior to admission day to discuss what to expect, any concerns or anxieties they may have about placing their loved one into Long Term Care and answer specific questions they may have about Baycrest. Mentors will share their own experiences if pertinent; explain how to navigate the Baycrest community and provide assurance regarding the services and care provided. Mentors may also meet the family member at Baycrest if requested.
The Family Mentor Facilitator is informed about all new admissions to the Apotex and assigns a Family Mentor who will contact the family member usually within one to two days. Between June 1, 2015 and May 31, 2016, Family Mentors were in contact with 107 families.
The program has had a positive impact on families:
“Gave me a better sense of how it all worked and what expectations should be. Really appreciated the call. Was relieved. Everything was working as it should.”
“Sharing her experience, affirming not to feel guilty”
“She was so sweet, put me right at ease. Very helpful, calming words of encouragement.”
With continuous review, evaluation and discussion, the Family Mentor Program has become embedded within the Apotex culture and integrated into the flow chart for the admissions process.
Title: Interim Director, Volunteer Services
Contact information: firstname.lastname@example.org