Life Support

Wendy Johnstone offers solutions for seniors.

Her mentor was her grandmother with whom she had a wonderful relationship. At an age when most young ladies are out on the town, Johnstone spent many a Friday evening playing crib with her grandmother simply because she enjoyed her company so much.

“I had an incredible relationship with her and she really provided me with such a lot of knowledge and experience,” says Johnstone, adding that before her grandmother died she gave her some money and asked her to use it for travel or study. At the time Johnstone was an undergraduate in Toronto working at the renowned Baycrest Centre where she was providing fitness programs for seniors.

A colleague suggested that Johnstone take a Masters in Gerontology. There were various locations to do this but she opted for a two year course at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, thereby satisfying her grandmother’s two wishes—travel and study. It was also where she met James, who became her husband seven years later

During her training she started a consulting business, which could be defined as providing evaluations and gaps analysis for organizations serving seniors. She carried out research primarily focusing on community development, which was concerned with the promotion of quality of life, particularly in subsidized housing. Working for non profit senior organizations in Vancouver and during the four years she has lived on the Island, it became very apparent to Johnstone that there was a need for eldercare planning services—already a big business in the US.

Her past experience had given her skill sets in research, working with seniors and that vital awareness of keeping seniors linked with the community. The wealth of knowledge she has amassed in this area has allowed her to become a specialist and, despite other job opportunities that were available, she felt the pull of this vocation.

Johnstone feels that as an independent she is more comprehensive in the service she offers—it is very much concerned with how people function in their own home and creating opportunities for elders to stay in their home while maintaining meaningful quality of life. She also feels it is important to have intense periods of time to allocate to each client, and working on her own allows her the freedom to spend that type of time with her clients.

Running her own business also has plus sides for her family. Her work periods are flexible, allowing time to be with daughter, Carly, who is almost two. Despite this juggling—nothing new to working moms—Johnstone feels very blessed with her life at the moment.

“I knew it was going to be crazy when I started the business, but as long as I feel my workload matches what I’m able to put out then I am happy.”

Johnstone’s compassion today comes in part from her mother, who she says is “an incredibly generous and caring person” and continues to be a huge influence on her. She used to take young Johnstone with her to visit elderly neighbors. Johnstone found it quite amusing when she realized that she was doing the same with her own daughter, as she occasionally takes her to meet seniors for brief visits. “To have empathy is a good quality and it is so nice to pass that on to future generations.”

Looking to the future, Johnstone has several aspirations; she hopes that when the family moves to a larger home she will have an office with a separate entrance; she also hopes for more opportunities to teach people what eldercare is all about and to train someone else in the business.

She is already working on the teaching aspect. In the fall she is putting on a series of workshops for caregivers, providing the tools and resources for these people to do the best job they can. While she can provide the tools, “nobody is taught to be a caregiver” Johnstone says. “It just happens.”

She would also like to go into the workplace and help people who are struggling with not only caregiving, but their own jobs, families and much more. “Time just does not allow you to put life on hold,” she says.

Aging is something that will affect us all in one form or another, and Johnstone’s goal is to help by making people prepared and becoming informed.

For more information contact Wendy Johnstone at 250-890 0277 or the Solutions for Seniors Eldercare Planning web site.