Caregivers Need a Helping Hand
Christina Pilgrim found her dream job before she even graduated. As a student in adult development, she began a one-year practicum at St. Joseph’s Health Centre, where she worked with elderly participants in the outreach program.
“When I did my practicum, I thought this is it. This is where I want to work,” says Pilgrim, B.A.Sc. ’04. “Before my practicum was over, I was offered a job.”
She is now a clinical resource worker at the Fergus Day Out program, a satellite of St. Joseph’s Health Centre. The program gives caregivers a break from caring for aging family members, while giving participants a chance to socialize.
“I work mostly with caregivers of the participants at the day program, providing them with support, advocacy and counselling to help with things at home and make sure the participants are accessing the services in the community that are available to them,” she says.
The program also helps keep the elderly out of long-term care facilities. “Most people want to stay in their own homes, and they need their caregivers to be in optimal health,” she adds. If caregivers don’t take care of themselves, they can’t take care of others.
Pilgrim says the textbook knowledge she gained in the first three years of her program at U of G came to life during her practicum.
“It was absolutely fascinating that what I was learning was actually applicable to the career I chose. My learning curve just went sky-high in the last year of my university degree because of that placement. I got to apply so much of what I learned in the classroom.”
Pilgrim is also a community volunteer and was recognized by the City of Guelph in 2010 for her work with the Alzheimer Society. During the 2009 Ascent for Alzheimer’s event in support of the Guelph-Wellington Alzheimer Society, she raised nearly $18,000.00 for the organization.
She was part of a team of climbers, doctors and guides who donated their time and experience to raise funds for the organization by climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. Her devotion to the cause was in memory of her grandmother who had succumbed to the disease. In fact, she was so inspired that she funded the travel costs herself.
Over the course of the year leading up to the climb, Pilgrim also inspired others, motivating her family, friends, the broader community and local businesses to get involved; she raised nearly $18,000 for the Alzheimer Society.