For Coreena Esser, a career in health care wasn’t immediately obvious.
It wasn’t until she was working at a K-Mart in White Rock that she realized it was for her, after a conversation with a customer inspired her to look into working with seniors.
“I questioned her a bit about it and then I immediately signed up for the course at the closest college to where I lived,” said Esser.
“As soon as I talked with that lady, I knew it, because she spoke with such love, I knew it was the right idea.”
From there, she moved back to Golden, where she took up a position at Durand Manor.
She initially started off as a health care assistant and spent time as a support worker, activity worker, adult day program worked and in housekeeping to build up seniority.
Now, she primarily works in recreation, programming things like bingo and craft nights for the residents, as well as overseeing the adult day program,
“I absolutely love my main job and the adult day program, it gives people in the community the chance to come and work with me for the day,” said Esser.
“When they come here, it can give some respite to their loved ones, or it gets them out of the house if they live alone and they can mix and mingle.”
Esser says her favourite part of the job is connecting with the seniors in her care, saying she loves the moments when you can see them light up.
She recalls one instance where she was reading a book about the Feuz’s and one of the ladies in her care became lucid when recognizing a family member. Another moment she fondly recalls is when they were able to take a resident on a train ride, saying that he immediately sparked up and spoke about returning to Italy to ride the trains.
“You get these moments with the residents where you get into their world and it’s just incredible,” said Esser.
As a fourth generation resident of the valley who grew up in Golden, Esser says she loves being able to share the history of the valley with the patients in her care.
“I find it amazing, because when I get the residents to talk about their history, I’m learning about my own history,” she said.
“So many of these guys are from the valley as well, so I can learn about myself too.”
For Esser, it’s all a part of being in the Durand Manor family, saying that the staff and residents have come together to form a strong unit.
Family is key to her, citing family as a primary reason she returned to Golden and the valley in the first place.
“One of the most challenging parts of our job is that I spend more time with these guys than my family at home,” said Esser.
“It’s been challenging, but the big benefit to the job is we have each other as staff and are supporting each other and the residents, it’s just amazing.”
The last year has been a challenge; with COVID, recreation has been hard to schedule, especially as the program is no longer accepting outside volunteers to better protect the residents.
However, Esser says that the family at Durand Manor has come together in the face of adversity to get through together.
“The staff is amazing, the support to be there for you and help you, if they have a couple extra minutes to spare they will,” she said.
“For me, family is always the driver, family for me is the number one thing.”