Helping Hands began as, and remains, a family owned and operated business. It was initially opened by Harvey and Marlynn Swallow in 1995, and since purchasing the home in 2001, their daughter Heather Monaghan has continued operating the home with the same standards of excellence, as well as with many innovative ideas.
The Swallow era…
In 1995 Marlynn and Harvey opened their family home in Regina’s Walsh Acres to residents in need of personal and/or nursing care. They named their business “Helping Hands Personal Care Home. Their daughter Heather was working full time as a teacher and decided not to be involved with the business at that time.
As Helping Hands grew to have a stellar reputation in Regina, there were more requests for care than there were rooms in the home. In 1996, Marlynn and Harvey purchased a home in Regina’s Normanview West at 226 Hansen Drive for the purposes of opening a second Helping Hands. The home was renovated to accommodate 10 residents, while retaining its home-like qualities.
In Summer of 1997, Heather agreed to watch over Helping Hands while Marlynn and Harvey went on a month-long trip to Europe. Heather found her time at Helping Hands that summer to be extremely fulfilling, and realized that she did in fact have a calling to work with seniors. She took a leave of absence that fall from her teaching job to enter the Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) Program. After completing the LPN program while working part time as a caregiver for Helping Hands, Heather began managing the Walsh Acres Helping Hands. Marlynn managed the Hansen Drive home, and oversaw both homes.
In 2000, Marlynn and Harvey began looking to the future. Harvey was retiring from teaching, and he and Marlynn wanted to be free to do some traveling. They decided to sell the Walsh Acres house to Marlynn’s sister in 2000, and in 2001 sold the home on Hansen Drive to Heather. This left them free to pursue hobbies, traveling, and other vocations. Marlynn retained involvement in Helping Hands until 2016, when she retired as their consulting registered nurse and as their Palliative Care Specialist.
The Heather era…
Heather Monaghan has owned and operated Helping Hands at 226 Hansen Drive since 2001. She strives to consistently offer the highest quality care, and this has not gone unnoticed by those in the Regina-Qu’appelle Health Region. Indeed, we are often told that Helping Hands has the best reputation of any personal care home in Regina, and our home is routinely recommended by physicians, nurses, and health care professionals. Helping Hands has maintained this reputation by consistently adding value to our residents, and by thinking “outside the box” to do whatever necessary to provide care to all residents, regardless of the complexity of their care, or the difficulties they may initially present with. “If Helping Hands can’t manage this person’s care, then no personal care home can,” is often a phrase we hear repeated to us from residents’ families who have been referred to us by health professionals.
Heather’s commitment to staffing excellent and professional development for herself as well as all of the Helping Hands team is evident. As an instructor of the St. John’s Ambulance Personal Care Worker Course, Heather ensures her own staff as well as caregivers from other homes are thoroughly trained in the field of senior care. She also serves as a guest speaker for the Alzheimer Society of Saskatchewan, as a board member for the Saskatchewan Association for Safe Workplaces in Health, and as the president of the Association of Personal Care Home Operators of Saskatchewan. Heather has become an expert in the field of senior care and personal care homes, and brings that knowledge to Helping Hands, which benefits the residents as recipients of the highest quality care, and benefit the staff in the expansion of their knowledge and abilities, and in support for their professional development.
The Original “Intergenerational Environment”…
Even before it was “on trend,” Helping Hands provided an intergenerational environment for our residents. *Insert pictures of Brea on walker* When Heather initially purchased the care home, her 2 children, Brea and Sydney, were very young. Heather created comfy bedrooms and a playroom for the girls in the downstairs area of Helping Hands, and her “mother’s helper” watched over Brea and Sydney at the care home. Brea and Sydney regularly participated in crafts, activities, and meals with the residents, which was of great benefit to both them, and the children. In 2005, Shaemus was born and joined the family business with much celebration, and was even the guest of honour at a baby shower attended by staff, residents, and their families. All three children have grown up taking part in both work and play at Helping Hands. Brea is now working and attending University of Regina in the Computer Science field, so she has no time to join Mom at work these days. However, Sydney helps out with office and book-keeping tasks and comes to visit the residents frequently, and Shaemus loves to come to Helping Hands and play checkers or cribbage with the residents who enjoy games. Residents’ grandchildren and staff’s children are always warmly welcomed and invited to join in with activities, baking, meals–whatever is going on at Helping Hands on the days they visit–and staff are able to bring older children with them to work who interact with the residents. In addition to our “young visitors”, Helping Hands participates in many community programs that bring high school students, childrens’ dance and music groups, and church youth groups into our home. The teenagers who visit us are fantastic with helping residents with our Wii sports games, ipod music downloading for our personalized music program, and Skyping their families who live out of town. We also facilitate opportunities for our residents to be involved with local school programs, reading to young children and helping with homework. *Insert picture of Rose reading to schools students*
Since she purchased the business in 2001, Heather has steadily increased and improved the features available at Helping Hands. During the time she has owned Helping Hands, Heather has:
- completed further renovations to the home to create 10 completely private rooms (previously there were 8 private and 1 shared rooms), and added many special touches that truly make Helping Hands an enjoyable, comfortable place to be for residents, their families, and the staff.
- added to the staffing component a full time house manager, who ensures continuity of care and keeps the home running in fine-tuned fashion
- enhanced the activities provided at the home by adding to the team a dedicated activities coordinator who plans entertaining, meaningful activities and outings on a daily basis
- taken the meals offered at Helping Hands from great to excellent by hiring a Red Seal Chef to create nutritious, consistently mouth-watering meals and desserts (did we mention our Chef specialized in pastries during her culinary education? Yum!)
- begun employing several Registered Nurses and Licensed Practical Nurses on contract basis to work with clients who have specific medical needs and also to provide bi-weekly nursing monitoring of residents’ health, and regular medication reviews.
- expanded the business to provide Helping Hands’ clients with many more options with regard to care and assistance, including providing staff who will visit to assist in clients’ own homes, in long term care facilities, in hospital, or in hospice. This is known as Helping Hands Bridging Program, which has a dedicated Bridging Coordinator who is available 24/7 to answer calls for service and put services in place immediately as needed.
- created an accessible Day Program at Helping Hands that enables clients to visit the home for part of the day to participate in activities, enjoy meals, and to get assistance with bathing in our accessible jet tub.
- Implemented staff training and program development certifying Helping Hands as the first “Music and Memory Facility” in Saskatchewan. Music and Memory is a personalized dementia-friendly strategy for improving the quality of life of seniors which utilizes music as a tool to reach those with memory challenges
- Helping Hands Personal Care Home is extremely family oriented, and offers all levels of care in a small, homey atmosphere where residents and their families feel at home, comfortable, and welcome to stay and visit anytime. Please come and see us, and experience for yourself that requiring assistance with daily living need not prevent any resident of Helping Hands from living in a beautiful, home-like, caring environment, nor from living the quality of life they choose to lead. We invite you to experience holistic care and assistance for you or your loved ones in a normalized, family-like structure and environment. Visit today and meet Heather and our extraordinary team!