Herb Basset getting ready to celebrate 30 years

Jodi Schellenberg
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Preparations are under way for the 30th anniversary of the Herb Bassett Home.

Gary Gunville, a resident who has been in the Herb Basset since it opened in 1984, sits with his favourite nurse, Jocelyne Howland on Wednesday.

A come and go tea is planned for Friday at 2 p.m. to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Herb Bassett. On Wednesday, staff and residents who have been at the home since it opened shared their stories.

Gary Gunville is one of the residents who has been at the Herb Bassett Home since it opened 30 years ago.

“Gary has been in the home probably 40 years between the two facilities,” Nurse Linda Perlitz said. “He was already there when I started and this is my 34th year so he has been in the home close to 40 years.”

Gunville was a little shy and did not want to talk until nurse Jocelyne Howland was in the room.

“They are all part of the Herb Bassett family and Gary is special because he has been here a long time,” Howland said. “Gary calls me Momma Nurse he has a special place in my heart.”

While Howland was in the room, Gunville said he enjoys the Herb Bassett Home because of the activities they do downtown, listening to the entertainment and sitting outside watching the trucks.

The home is not just special to the residents, but the staff as well.

“It is a challenge, it is rewarding,” Perlitz said. “When I started, I didn’t expect to be here 30 years later.”

Since she has been there since it opened in 1984, Perlitz said she has seen a lot of changes.

Before the Herb Bassett opened, the residents were located in the Victoria Lions Nursing Home, at 18th Street and Central Avenue.

“There have been a lot of changes that have happened over the last 30 years -- health care in general has really changed over the last 30 years,” Perlitz said.

Although things have changed throughout the years, Perlitz said she has always wanted to work with the elderly in a nursing home.

“This is where my calling was because someone needed to be there to give them the dignity that the elderly deserve to have in their last days,” Perlitz said. “A lot of our residents don’t go out the front door, they go out the back door. You want to make sure they have the best quality of care they can get while they are in their final days.”

There are 144 residents in the home, with 48 residents in each pod, Perlitz said.

“On Golden Hill, the majority of our residents are cognitive and geriatrics,” she said. “Paradise Path is more Alzheimer’s and Lakeland Trail is more your heavier care residents.”

In the past, the average age of the residents was over 70, but in recent years that has lowered quite a bit.

“We are getting a lot more younger people now,” Perlitz said. “When we first started it was more seniors with just the odd young person, but now we have a lot of younger ones because of the conditions that are now coming out -- younger people are getting conditions (that we had not heard about) when we first started in the field.”

Some of those conditions are Parkinson’s Huntington’s, Lou Gehrig’s and some acquired brain injuries, she explained.

“The age group is a lot younger. We have a lot of 40 and 50 year olds,” Perlitz said.

Since she has been there since the Herb Bassett Home’s inception, Perlitz is coming close to retirement.

“I am hoping to retire soon and move on to something else after all these years but I do love what I do and it will be a sad day when I walk out, for not only me but the residents will be sad when I leave,” Perlitz said.

After working so many years with the residents, she will miss them most.

“You really get attached to them. When you work with them on a day-to-day basis, they become probably close as family -- probably closer than your own family is to you because they are the ones you see all the time,” Perlitz said. “Every time you lose a resident, you lose a little piece of yourself and that is the hard part. That is the part I’m finding difficult now as I age.”

The staff is all looking forward to the 30th anniversary celebration on Friday.

“A lot is through word of mouth for us. We are just passing on (saying), “Hey, come back if you want to and reminisce a little bit about the good times and the bad times and what we have done in the past,’” Perlitz said. “It should be fun.”

Geographic location: 18th Street, Central Avenue, Golden Hill

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