At Canterbury, we love to celebrate the journey of life.  The unique and fulfilling lives experienced by our senior residents, and the quality education and career paths are chosen by our highly skilled, dedicated staff.

This month we feature a very special health care worker, Pamela Azenabor, who is a new Clinical Coordinator at Canterbury.  Pamela has led a very interesting life filled with compassion and great courage that brought her to a new country, and eventually to the community of Canterbury. We have been especially grateful to be on the receiving end of her many talents during this past year dealing with the challenges of the COVID – 19 pandemic.

Pamela worked for many years as a health care aid and then graduated from Bow Valley College in Calgary as a Licensed Practical Nurse in 2015.  She moved to Edmonton and was hired to work at Canterbury in 2017.  Her friendly personality, genuine compassion and hard work did not go unnoticed, and she quickly worked her way up to her new role as Clinical Coordinator in July 2020.

“I love how we can grow within the company.  I just love working with my other colleagues and everyone is happy and helpful – it’s more of a community at Canterbury,” says Pamela. “And I absolutely adore and love seniors. I’ve been working with them since I was 19. They’ve done so much for their own communities; it’s nice to be able to give back.  Although I’m getting paid as a nurse I feel like I have that extra compassion in doing what I do.”

Pamela’s wonderful natural ability to interact with seniors comes from her strong tender bond with her Grandmother.

“I was actually raised by my Grandmother, Dora, in Nigeria before I immigrated to Canada in 2006,” explains Pamela.  Dora was a hardworking, successful entrepreneur; managing farms, growing crops and selling fruit. “She was the backbone of the family, always wanting to help people, sharing her faith, and paying for our school,” adds Pamela. “She was so kind, and did an amazing job raising me in a good home so I have a great connection with her and that resonated with me throughout my career. I have just passed that same love over to my residents.”

When Pamela was 14 years old, she left Nigeria to experience new opportunities and a new life in Canada.  She reunited with her brother and mother in Calgary, as her mother was already studying and living there.  The young teenager boldly took an airplane ride across the world by herself.  “I was scared and excited at the same time,” says Pamela, “but it was all worth it in the end.”

Pamela has taken this positive energy and drive and applied it successfully to her own health care career journey.  Currently, she works closely with Rosemary, another Clinical Coordinator at Canterbury, where they consistently visit and assess residents to ensure they are receiving excellent personalized care. She is also involved in hiring, and she supervises Canterbury’s 35 Health Care Aids, and works together with AHS case managers to help coordinate services like occupational or physical therapy for residents.

Pamela continues to visit residents in their rooms in the same way as she did pre-COVID.  With proper PPE in place, she checks in to see how they are doing, if they need any medication assistance, any help with daily activities, or if they are using the right walker for safety. She enjoys chatting with residents about their lives, what they’ve done in the past and what they need for the future to feel safe and happy.

“It’s fulfilling just being part of their lives,” she says.  “You know they see us more than they would see their actual family members.  Sometimes we are busy and don’t have all the time in the world; but to stop, talk and have those moments with them is very special.”

During the added stress of COVID, Pamela interacted with AHS and educated staff on all of the strict health care safety precautions and guidelines. She provided info on how to properly screen people before coming into the building.  And she led important interactive demonstrations for staff on how to correctly don and remove PPE safety masks, gloves and equipment.

“I worry every day about contracting the virus,” admits the Clinical Coordinator, “however I play my part of following AHS precautionary guidelines such as maintaining social distance, frequent hand hygiene and continuous masking.”

Pamela also coordinated the safe vaccination of all of Canterbury’s residents in February and emphasizes the necessity that everyone needs to continue to adhere to the recommended AHS protocols.  Under her guidance, there has not been one case of COVID in the entire facility.

Sometimes we get asked, “‘Oh, how come you are wearing the goggles?’,  I explain, it’s mandated from AHS so when someone else is speaking to us, we are not receiving anything through our eyes, it’s just a safety precaution,” says Pamela.  “They are very excited to know that we are doing all we can, so we can ensure to continue keeping all Canterbury staff and residents safe.”

In addition to following AHS guidelines, Pamela and her team have taken a step up, to further enhance safety.  “Our director recently had conversations with us because of the new variant that’s going on and suggested that we double mask.  It’s not a mandate from the AHS, but it’s an extra step that our organization took.”

This call to provide overall exceptional service for others in times of uncertainty comes with inherent risks. Courageous, compassionate and highly organized health care workers like Pamela – can simply be called a hero.

“I don’t know if I’m a hero, but you know it brings me great satisfaction to know that I am bringing value to whatever it is that I’m doing at Canterbury,”   Pamela says humbly.  “ We cannot do the job single-handedly,” she adds, “so I would definitely say that the health care aides – they are all heroes – they are more hands-on, ensuring residents are ready in the morning, getting them ready, leading all the activities; they are doing tremendous work, so they are definitely heroes too.”

As they wait for the second round of vaccinations for residents to take place in April, there’s hope for the future too. “Well, I do have a bit of COVID fatigue,” she laughs, “I’ve been waiting for it to end since last year!”  Pamela looks forward to a time when she can get back to interacting more closely with everyone.  “I really miss all of the activity that we did prior to COVID, and the fact that we could have BBQs, gatherings and visit outside with residents and staff together.”

Until then Pamela focuses on her strong faith and remembers the love, lessons and work ethic she learned from her Grandmother.  She is grateful to have a supportive family; as well as a good job, good health and good friends at Canterbury. “We have a great team, I love working at Canterbury, everyone is helpful, and in spite of COVID we all still try to put our best foot forward.  We come to work to do what we all enjoy doing; the end result is all of us have the same goal - to continue to provide person-centred care to our residents and just ensure that they are living in a place that they can truly call home.”

Thank you Pamela to you and all of your health care team members for your unwavering dedication of kindness, courage and service to our Canterbury residents, and for keeping them safe throughout the COVID-19 pandemic!