Meet Barb, a member of the kind, compassionate Tea & Toast team!
In an effort to help our clients get to know our advisors, we interviewed Barb for this blog about her previous work history, her take on the retirement industry today, and why she loves working for Tea & Toast.
Learn more about Barb below.
What is your current job title?
I am a Senior Living Advisor.
What did you do professionally before coming to Tea & Toast?
My background is in marketing and advertising. I worked for 20 years in the media industry, and 10 years as a marketing consultant and virtual marketing director.
I also held senior volunteer positions related to helping people in the community. I was past President of the Board of Director of the Distress Centre of Ottawa; on the Board of Directors for the Alzheimer Society of Ottawa & Renfrew County; and past Chair of the Alzheimer Society’s Provincial Steering Committee—A Way Forward for Ontario.
Why do you enjoy working for Tea & Toast?
Because it’s a privilege to assist and support seniors—with their families—in finding a new home. I feel very blessed to have seniors and their loved ones trust me in guiding them through what can be a daunting and overwhelming task. There is no bigger reward than tears of joy, a big hug and a thank you, and someone saying “I don’t know what I would have done without you!”
When you know you’ve saved a family time, relieved their stress, and helped a senior have the best quality of life possible…it’s almost too hard to describe how I feel. You can see it in their faces—that appreciation.
What’s a current trend you see in Canada regarding senior care and retirement?
An increase in dementia. While on the Provincial Steering Committee for the Alzheimer Society, I was exposed to a plethora of information and stats about the ageing population, and the increase in dementia among the elderly. And today, I personally work with many families who have a loved one who has dementia. I see everyone’s struggles and frustrations—the seniors, as well as the families.
However, one positive aspect I see is that there are more specific activities and programming in retirement living to help support those living with the disease. Many residences now have ongoing staff training for those who are helping residents in their various types and stages of dementia. And more residences are offering memory wings and floors.
Moreover, understanding how to service and support this population is more top-of-mind with the government than in the past. For example, the Ontario Government now has a provincial dementia strategy to help and support those living with the disease and—just as important—tools and support for their caregivers.
What’s the one thing you would tell children of ageing parents—even if their parents aren’t yet at the age where they might need a retirement residence?
Don’t always assume you know what your parents want. Start having open conversations by asking what your parents want for the next stage of their life—and then help them plan for it using professionals who can support the family.
Don’t wait for the crisis to happen: many wait too long, and when it’s in crisis mode the options become limited. Part of being prepared is also ensuring parents have their health and financial Powers of Attorney set up in their wills.
What makes you really good at your job?
First off, I care! I care about my clients’ well-being, I care about them being happy, and I care about how their families feel about where they will be living.
Second, I ask really great questions—and I listen. Looking for your next home is like a puzzle. By asking key questions and discovering as much as possible about my client’s situation, this helps me “solve” the puzzle, getting a full picture of their life and needs so I can come up with a solution that fits each individual.
Finally, I have compassion and empathy for others—which makes my clients feel comfortable about sharing when I ask them detailed questions about their situation and what they want in a retirement residence.
What do you do in your spare time?
I’m quite active. I am club curler at the Huntley Curling Club in Carp. I skip a ladies league team, play third in on a mixed team, and have just recently started playing mixed doubles. I golf in the summertime at Loch March with the morning ladies league and various courses with my husband. I also enjoy gardening, cooking, and reading Maeve Binchy novels.
Meanwhile, I love spending family time with my husband and two adult daughters and—of course—babysitting my Husky “granddog,” Rocky.
As well, for the past 12 years, I have been a part-time professor at Algonquin College, teaching in the Advertising & Marketing Communications and Radio Broadcasting Programs.
Is there a mantra or words of wisdom you like to live by?
Love what you do!
I always challenge my students (at Algonquin) to dig deep to find their passion. That passion is what will drive them to have a great career that they will love—it won’t even seem like a job.
I live by this, and my clients see it too. I can’t tell you how many times clients have said to me, “Barb, I can tell you love your job.” And they’re right!