In honour of International Women's Day — Tuesday, March 8 — we're highlighting just a few of the thousands of incredible women who help us deliver exceptional care at Vancouver Coastal Health. Read about all of them in VCH News stories and see more photos on our VCH Instagram and Facebook channels.
For Carrie Willekes, working in a long-term care home is not just about providing excellent resident-driven care to older adults, it's also about creating a home-like environment for residents, families and staff.
Carrie, who has worked in health care for 28 years, is the Manager at Minoru Residence, a long-term care home in Richmond, where she leads a team providing care to residents and their families. She is very passionate about caring for older adults, something she says is due to the great relationship she had with her own grandparents.
“Growing up, they had endless time for me and showed me such love and support. They lived through times that most of us could not imagine and were incredibly resilient," she says. “I felt like they truly deserved to age well and receive the best support to maintain their dignity, a sense of personhood (as individuals) and quality of life."
Carrie supports people who can no longer live independently in their own homes and wants to provide excellent, resident-driven care. She says, “I was quickly inspired to further my education in hopes of influencing change in long-term care and improving the quality of life for residents."
Through her years in health care, she has held a variety of roles and has learned so much through the eyes of the many amazing patients and residents. She says she has worked with some fantastic teams and great colleagues who have all inspired her to further formal education.
With this year's theme for International Women's Day – Break the Bias – Carrie stresses the need to engage and support staff to break down barriers and bring a sense of personhood (dignity and as individuals) to residents in long-term care. As a leader, she says she's focused on creating a social model of care, and care homes and communities where residents want to live and where staff want to work, instead of the model of care that just sees a person's medical condition.
“What I've learned from my grandparents is to have a vision of an enhanced model of care where residents are recognized for their abilities and for what they can contribute," says Carrie. “Everyone has experience and a life story, and I want to engage each resident, honor their life story and create a place they can call home."
Carrie reflects on having a leader who had an incredible vision for long-term care. “She engaged and encouraged her leader to find creative ways to try new ideas and enabled us to dream a little with our teams."
She also has some inspiring words for women who are starting out in health care. “You have to take risks in order to create meaningful change. Be leaders in that change and find creative ways to try new ideas."
Spending time with animals.
Unwinding from the pandemic and feeling like I live in a city again!
Loud music in a dark room during my 6 a.m. spin class, or in contrast, a long, quiet trail run.
I would choose two women – my Grandma (who is no longer with us) and my mom, because the three of us always had so much fun together.
This year's theme and pose for International Women's Day is Break the Bias. Posing with arms crossed in solidarity shows commitment to challenge inequality, call out gender bias, question stereotypes and help forge an inclusive world.