Tracy Adams is one of the two managers of Abbeyfield House in Port Alberni, which offers affordable accommodation and companionship for seniors. Those who live at Abbeyfield have their own private living quarters, but eat in a group dining room. The house managers make sure everything runs smoothly, from mealtimes to entertainment in the common room.
The mother of two children, son 23 and daughter 28, and married for 33 years to her paramedic husband, Adams worked for 29 years at the Bank of Montreal before coming to Abbeyfield.
“I was born in Port Alberni in 1968 and I have lived here most of my life,” said Adams. She was the only child in the family. Her parents did all sorts of social and recreational activities and she was included in most of them.
“After leaving the bank, I thought I would retire, but, here I am, working with seniors and enjoying the many aspects of the job.” Her duties are varied and challenging, and along with her co-manager, she spends many hours with the residents, individually and in group settings. She takes part in social activities and connects residents with the larger community through bus trips to local functions whenever possible, and following public health orders.
“I truly value the time I spend with them, this being the reason that I came to work at Abbeyfield. I must say that my position here is unique because in addition to my social and recreational endeavours with the residents, I do normal management duties.”
The pandemic has affected many, especially the seniors who live a communal life in homes like Abbeyfield. Without volunteers and visitors several regular programs, such as music sessions, crafts, and other forms of entertainment, plus the regular activities and calendar event celebrations, have decreased substantially in the home. These factors have had an impact on the social milieu of the life of the seniors who rely on house activities and on the outside support for social engagement. But, thanks to the managers like Adams, who has committed to providing meaningful activities aimed to make their living conditions meaningful, their lives has become more normal.
Despite the setbacks created by the threat of the COVID-19 virus, Adams said there is a strong bond between staff and residents. “We laugh a lot and have a lot of fun together. Each and every one of them is very special and I have learned a lot from them in a very short time. Abbeyfield is where I feel like I was always meant to be!”
Recently, Adams and a board member attended the B.C. chapter meeting of the Abbeyfield Society of Canada. The meeting served as an informative source to learn how other Abbeyfield houses are doing in these uncertain times created by the pandemic, along with other issues that affect the senior population. “By attending the meetings, not only did we meet lots of people (we) got to see first hand how committed all of them are to the Abbeyfield movement.
“Also, it made me realize that we are extremely lucky here in Port Alberni by not having to struggle to survive like many other Abbeyfield homes have,” she said. Adams gives credit to the hard work the board of directors has done for the success of Port Alberni’s non-profit Abbeyfield home.
“I believe that is the reason we are doing so well now,” she added.
A number of residents expressed appreciation for the job Adams and the board are doing to keep Abbeyfield Port Alberni a special place for the senior population.