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Image of Wayne Yan and his mother
Wayne Yan and his mother, Mee Sin Wong,
Seniors + Healthy Aging

Companionship a constant for MSJ’s elder residents


Three loyal sons take shifts to stay close to their mother

In the fall of 2010, Wayne Yan came home one day to find his 82 year-old mother, Mee Sin Wong, sitting on the floor. He rushed to help her up. She seemed okay. In fact, she was fine that evening, as well as the next morning.

Later the following day, however, Wayne found that his mother didn’t seem her normal self. He promptly took her to Mount Saint Joseph Hospital, where doctors informed Wayne that Mee Sin had suffered a minor stroke.

Wayne and his two brothers were stunned at this news.

While treated for her stroke at MSJ, Mee Sin was now no longer able to walk. It was decided that she should enter extended care and the family wanted her to be at MSJ.

A concern for Wayne and his brothers was that their mother spoke no English. They were worried that the language barrier would impact her care. If she needed to communicate something quickly, how would she do so?

It was at this point, from his first interactions with the elder care team at MSJ, seeing the effort they made to enhance and improve communication for non-English speakers, that Wayne could see his mother was in the right place.

In addition to having Mandarin speakers on staff, English speaking staff members have a number of pages of Mandarin words and phrases they use on days when the Mandarin speaking staff are not working. The members of the MSJ care team created this homemade phrase book themselves.

“They are always trying,” says Wayne of the staff at MSJ, “and over the years it has improved and I really appreciate that. It helps to know that my mother is able to communicate with her caregivers. It means a lot to our family.”

Wayne says his mother is very sociable and enjoys spending time with her fellow residents, many of whom have become her good friends. And while Mee Sin Wong has issues with her kidneys that require ongoing pain management, on most days Wayne says his mother feels good physically. He also says that, cognitively, she is as lucid as she has ever been, for which Wayne and his family are grateful.

Wayne appreciates how the care team at MSJ allows him to be involved in his mother’s care, sharing with him many details which Wayne chronicles in a journal he keeps in order to share information with his other family members.

Wayne and his brothers believe that family support plays a vital role in Mee Sin’s health and well-being, which is why he and his brothers are very attentive: Wayne, a retiree, is usually at MSJ five days a week, from 4pm until his mother goes to bed; one of his brothers covers the other two days during that timeframe; while the third brother comes in earlier, usually around 1PM, and stays with Mee Sin until Wayne or his brother arrive to take over.

Like Wayne and his brothers, the MSJ care team sees the important role that companionship plays. To ensure that no resident is ever left out when it comes to socialization, as part of its ongoing Residential Care for Me project MSJ has developed a “buddy system” for residents who may lack family support or receive few visitors. These residents are paired up with a staff member who becomes a constant in their day, engaging with them to keep loneliness from creeping in.

The buddy system is just one more innovation in elder care at Mount Saint Joseph that means so much to residents and families, and thanks to Residential Care for Me it is one of the many steps that Providence Health Care is taking as it moves from the traditional institutional model of residential care to a social model of care.

Friends of St. Paul’s Foundation are encouraged to support these innovative residential care programs that span six sites across the PHC Network. You can lend you support by making a gift now.