Social Service Worker - Gerontology
Graduation Year: 2010
As a volunteer at the Trillium Health Centre’s continuing care unit in Mississauga, Christine Longo saw first-hand the stress and confusion experienced by families trying to navigate an often complicated system.
“Staff were overwhelmed and could not provide as much time and care that was needed to walk families through the next steps for their loved one,” she says.
An Outreach Counsellor for the Alzheimer Society Peel since 2010, Christine now helps health care providers with this process and, more significantly, offers an ear and a shoulder to support seniors and their families through a difficult time.
It is a vital role, she believes, due to the increase in the number of seniors requiring care and support in the coming years.
“I feel that seniors are a neglected and forgotten generation,” explains Christine. “Providing comfort in the last stage of life is hugely important to me and a way to give back to those who provided so much for this current generation.”
Much of this support involves listening to the wide spectrum of life stories told by individual seniors and their families – often a challenging and emotionally draining experience, but ultimately a very rewarding one.
“Their experiences humble you and your own story. I have learned so much from my families,” Christine says. “How can I complain about little annoyances, like milk not being on sale for example, when these families have survived war time, rations, starvation and confinement? The families I work with make me stop and appreciate the simple things in life.”
In fact, it was a desire to make the most of her life that led Christine to Sheridan. Sparked in part by the events of 9/11, which she calls her “turning point”, she chose to pursue a career in the social service field.
“I realized that I had my whole life ahead of me and could not wait to accomplish things, since I had the privilege of being in a safe, Canadian environment.”
In 2001, after her children were enrolled in school full time, Christine rejoined the workforce. Although she had spent many years in administrative roles before the birth of her children, she was keen to retrain in an area that would complement her Psychology degree.
Sheridan’s program did more than prepare her to enter the social service workplace with confidence. “The information that I gained from Sheridan, even beyond my diploma, has helped me in mentoring my own children, as well as several past and current students.”