Get to Know Us: Lorna’s Story

Lorna puts compassion first at LOFT’s Crosslinks Seniors Housing and Support Services – Shoreham Hub

“There’s never a dull moment at LOFT,” says Lorna, a Senior Personal Support Worker at Crosslinks Seniors Housing and Support Services – Shoreham Hub. Employed at LOFT since 2008, Lorna’s introduction to health care began while looking after her grandparents. With no formal experience assisting seniors with mental health challenges, she was inspired to pursue a career in the field.

“It was an eye-opening experience,” she says. “My studies led to a Personal Support Worker bridging program where I learned about working with the elderly. At LOFT I was provided with training on how to handle difficult behaviours and other senior-specific support.”

For Lorna, compassion always comes first. Her top priority is ensuring that her clients are safe and well. She keeps track of their progress and is responsible for their personal care, supporting them with their medication, meal preparation, and other day-to-day activities. “I work with an amazing team and Case Manager who are always available to support me,” says Lorna. “My Director, Samantha Chhom, is my role model.”

At the start of the pandemic, Lorna was frightened for both her clients and her family. “Honestly, it was overwhelming,” she remembers. “Everything was new, and we didn’t know what was going on.”

“I once had a client with multiple health issues who was showing serious COVID symptoms,” she says. “After convincing him to seek care in hospital, I called my family and asked them to leave a change of clothes for me in the backyard. I showered and left my work clothes outside in an effort to keep my family safe. I was scared that I might bring the virus home.”

The reality of dealing with the pandemic remains. Lorna’s job necessitates direct contact with clients, and the dangers of contracting or spreading the virus are real. After receiving more information and direction from LOFT, Lorna feels empowered to work with confidence and compassion. “I now have the strength to face this challenge,” she says. “I can see how isolation has impacted our clients. As a Personal Support Worker, I do my best to cheer them up.”

Lorna and her colleagues at Shoreham Hub are also helping combat the virus by joining #TeamVaccine, facilitating vaccination clinics at Toronto Community Housing sites. Most clients at Shoreham Hub have already had the opportunity to get vaccinated.

Lorna is an active member of her Filipino community. “I’m a member of a Filipino church and we have a very diverse membership,” she says. “We like to connect with the broader community in order to celebrate different cultures.”

This May, for Asian Heritage Month, Lorna is encouraging people to try some traditional Filipino dishes. An avid baker, Lorna loves cassava cake and rice cake. She also recommends trying Pancit, a noodle-based dish served on special occasions.

LOFT’s Crosslinks Seniors Housing and Support Services partners with Toronto Community Housing to offer assisted living services to seniors 24 hours per day, seven days per week. These services ensure that seniors have access to the support they need to manage their health and address social isolation, while living independently and with dignity.