This is the seventh in a series of stories of a day in the life of a staff member at Ranch Ehrlo Society.
Sean Whitaker, personal support leader (PSL), values nutrition.
He has implemented a nutritious meal program at Birch Tree House in Regina and likes to talk about the benefits it brings.
“There is a significant improvement in the participants’ mood, behaviour, and sleep.
They are in a much more positive frame of mind when they are eating nutritious food. They’re also sleeping much better, and they just feel better,” explained Sean.
Sean works in the Supported Living Program which supports youth and adults with differing abilities by providing group living, educational, and vocational programs. His role as a PSL he describes as being a liaison between the workers and the program manager.
“I’m that support for the personal support workers. I’m also responsible for planning the programming and activities every evening,” he said.
The other PSL and Sean do most of the grocery shopping for the program as they are responsible for the meals. They usually go to the store every other day to make sure the participants always have fresh produce available.
When the adult participants In Birch Tree House arrive home from Ranch Ehrlo vocational programming, they enjoy just relaxing for a bit. Then it’s time to make their lunches for the next day. Sean makes sure they shower and shave before the staff starts making supper around 5 p.m.
“The guys will sometimes help with making supper. If we’re making pizza then they’ll make their own,” said Sean.
Around four nights a week, there is programming in the evening such as art therapy, horsemanship, basketball, or floor hockey. The participants also take part in other less structured nightly activities.
“Sometimes the guys want to go shopping to get snacks or whatever, so we’ll take them to the store. We have a pool table in the garage. We also have a basketball net and an area for them to play. Sometimes they’ll play a video game or watch sports,” said Sean.
Once the participants are in bed for the night, Sean will work on the paperwork and do chores around the home, and by then his shift is usually over. His shift is 3 p.m. to midnight except on weekends when it’s 12 p.m. to midnight.
Relationships in the home
Relationships are important for working through any issues and maintaining a healthy mood in the house.
“We all work together to support our participants in the best way possible. We bond with each other while we build positive relationships with our participants,” he said.
Sean said it’s also his responsibility as a PSL to keep a positive environment in the home. He explained that the participants will respond to the positive or negative energy of the staff.
Looking toward the future
Sean would like to see more youth and participants benefit from nutrition and would someday like to see a Ranch Ehrlo community garden established.
“It would be beneficial for all of our participants to have the opportunity to grow their own food, learn how to plant, and participate in tending the garden,” he said. “They could then reap the benefits of their hard work when they’re able to eat the delicious food they’ve grown. They would have a sense of accomplishment and pride in a job well done.”