Hamilton couple Matt and Paula took some time out of their busy schedule last week to give CONNECT Hamilton a five-star review.

Matt’s mother, Jean, moved out of CONNECT on Friday, October 15, and into an apartment at a retirement community. She had lived at CONNECT for just over a year.

Jean was living on her own in an apartment when she had a stroke in 2020. Matt found her 60-90 minutes post stroke. She spent some time at Hamilton General Hospital and then a few months at St. Peter’s. Once she plateaued in her rehab, Matt and Paula were offered some potential alternative places for Jean to go. CONNECT was one of those options.

“My mom went from being very mobile, taking care of herself, grocery shopping, to – I don’t know if she’s every going to talk again. She made progress at St. Peters, which was a bit hopeful, but it was clear she needed something else to get the tools to reinsert herself back into life.”

Matt and Paula said Jean’s progress accelerated at CONNECT and they observed weekly gains when they visited her.

“I wish I could remember all the names of the amazing people working at CONNECT,” said Matt. “Some of the ones that stand out are Gillian, Amanda, Melissa, Life Redesign Coach Matt, even Adam and Jamie, who I didn’t talk to that often, were always so helpful and kind. Sylvia is the best person on earth and incredibly patient, kind and helpful.”

They said it was tough at first because CONNECT had limited visitors because of COVID. However, there was a room set up so essential caregivers could visit their loved ones. Unfortunately, even that room was shut down when an outbreak forced CONNECT to stop traffic in and out of the building for a time.

“That happened the day before mom’s birthday,” said Matt. “So we organized a drive-by parade to celebrate her birthday and left balloons and gifts for her.”

He said CONNECT Leader Jamie Curran sent him a note thanking him for the parade and indicating that the whole building benefited from lifted spirits because of their efforts.

The family relied on phone calls to stay in touch daily during COVID, so Jean got a cell phone for the first time in her life. Part of her rehab was learning to use it, which required a focus on some of the fine motor skills she had lost because of the stroke.

“You could see her progress in her face – and the way she interacted with us. We always visited with her on the porch outside CONNECT. We noticed the improvement with her motor skills and her speech was coming back. Every other visit her word recall was improving.”

Matt said he imagines it must take a lot of patience and be incredibly difficult working with people with brain injuries, but the people working at CONNECT were always happy and helpful and working as a team.

“It was during the pandemic, so lots of people I only met over the phone, but I could tell they were smiling and happy to help. My mom had an incredible experience living there and really misses the people and socialization. I am so thankful and impressed. I tell anyone who will listen what a great place CONNECT is.”