Through home-cooked meals at St. Joseph's Heritage, Pauline Swanson and Darla Young-Premack (seated) have forged a special friendship, based on trust and compassion
THUNDER BAY, ONTARIO, --- March 24, 2015 ---Two eggs, sunny-side up. Sounds simple, but for Darla Young-Premack and Pauline Swanson, it’s much, much more than just a nourishing breakfast. It’s about trust, friendship and support.
The two women met about eight months ago, when Darla moved into PR Cook Apartments at St. Joseph’s Heritage. Following a brain injury, the 64-year-old isn’t comfortable in her kitchen anymore, and isn’t capable of cooking for herself.
“I decide I want to cook something, then I get to the kitchen and I can’t remember why I’m there, or what it was I was looking for,” she said. “I just can’t do it.”
So, nearly every day, she heads down to the café on the main floor of the Heritage, where Pauline serves her a hot meal, usually breakfast. The two swap tales and poke fun at each other. It’s the sort of intimate banter usually reserved for long-time friends or family.
“Being here settles me, this is my family,” said Darla on this particular morning, glancing up from a hefty plate of French toast, cooked ham and hash browns. “I feel safe and calm here. Not to mention she’s a damned good cook. I give her a hard time, but I mostly just want to give her a big hug.”
Pauline has been a cook at the Heritage for nearly two years. She says Darla is like an adopted granny.
“I worry about her all the time,” the 33-year-old said. “I am here to make sure she gets a homemade meal, and it’s very gratifying to be able to cook for her. It’s almost like having her in my home. Darla is me in 30 years; she’s sassy and feisty.”
The relationship between Darla and Pauline is typical of the bonds that form between employees and the tenants, residents and clients they serve across the Care Group, says Heidi West, Manager of Long-Term Care Housing and Support Services.
“Our food services staff are the unsung heroes. Pauline is a natural caretaker, and preparing nourishing meals for Darla is her way of providing comfort and care in a compassionate way,” she said.
Did You Know?
St. Joseph’s Care Group serves more than one million meals a year to clients, tenants and residents.