Though the city of Maple Ridge has grown over the years, matching the pace of development in all of Greater Vancouver, in many ways it still retains the quaint, small town atmosphere that many of the residents who make their home at Royal Crescent Gardens recall from decades ago.
As a small, assisted living home, Royal Crescent Gardens itself mirrors that atmosphere and the 46 residents and the team members supporting them have become so much more than occupants of a retirement setting.
“Our place has a really close, family feel to it,” says Nurse Manager Leanne Graham- Wishlow, and that’s a great part of its charm. She started her career serving elders as a nurse in a large, long-term care home and she knows what an institution where relationships seem superficial and people don’t know each other fees like. “We’re like a 46-person family at Royal Crescent Gardens,” Leanne says, and it’s what makes the home so special.
It’s not uncommon for team members and residents to have strong relationships forged years before the move to assisted living was necessary. The depth of these relationships is one of the first things Leanne noticed when she took up her new position in early 2018.
“All of these people, they know each other,” Leanne says. “‘They’d say things like ‘I used to live down the street from this person,’ or some of the care aides used to be babysat by some of the residents.” This wasn’t just a ‘home-like’ environment; it really was home.
Leanne was welcomed with the warmth one would expect of a humble community, and she sees that warmth shared every day between residents and caregivers. All lives are enhanced as a result. Perhaps what is most inspiring to Leanne is how the relationships are truly reciprocal; just as team members are supporting residents they too are receiving support.
“The residents give you such perspective on life from someone who’s been here for a long time,” Leanne says, “and it doesn’t take long to develop strong relationships because you bond over things and you laugh together about things.”
They also help each other through tough times, for that is what family does. Leanne says she’s learned not to “sweat the small stuff,” thanks to the advice and friendship of the elders she’s come to know. She’s grateful every day that she’s able to come to home where those relationships can thrive and dignity, respect and even admiration are the roots of a proud community.