Sense of family perseveres and spreads


Reconnection with family strengthens relationships for residential care worker
Monday June 6, 2011 — Ryan Rogers

Residential care worker Anne Simons has been working with Deb through the Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion (BACI) since 1988, and she’s become like a member of Anne’s family. Anne says she’s become an “adopted” member of Deb’s family, too.

For a period while Deb was institutionalized, she had lost connection with her family, though she’s always had a very strong sense of what family means to her. Anne began supporting Deb after she left the institution in 1988, and has been working with her ever since.

After becoming involved with BACI, Deb was drawn to children, and “adopted” two from two different families. “One family calls her ‘Auntie,’ and the other calls her ‘Grandma,’” says Anne.

She was worried when the children began calling Deb “Grandma” because she might be sensitive to the connotations around age, but “she just didn’t care, because grandma is a part of the family, and she just wanted to be part of a family.”

“She’s just been lucky that I’ve stuck around as long,” says Anne, after working for 23 years with BACI. “But I really love her. She’s like part of my family,” she adds. Anne knows what it’s like to be apart from family. Hers live in the Netherlands.

Now that Deb’s back in touch with her family, she spends Christmas at her father’s. Anne travels with Deb to lend support on Christmas Day.

“I’m there to be her support person, and then we celebrate Christmas together. We’ve been doing that since she’s been reconnected with her family. They’ve kind of adopted me,” says Anne.

Anne also takes Deb out to her sister’s house in the B.C. Interior at least once a year.

“We take a trip up there and she goes camping with her family out in the middle of nowhere, without running water and electricity, which is quite a feat because of Deb’s health issues on top of her physical issues,” says Anne.

“She loves hanging out with her family, and will do anything to be part of their life,” says Anne.

If you have feedback on this story, please call the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 29, or e-mail ryan(at)

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