Image Credit: Saskatchewan Polytechnic
Image Credit: Saskatchewan Polytechnic

Nursing students team up with Ashley Homestore to help leave a legacy

The nursing profession demands the ability to care for those in need. Recently, a group of nursing students belonging to a Saskatchewan Polytechnic and University of Regina collaborative program completed extracurricular activities in that area by helping revitalize a long-term facility in Regina. 

While in her third year of the Saskatchewan Collaborative Bachelor of Science in Nursing (SCBScN) program, Rylei Janzen and her classmates were introduced to an initiative that gave them a chance to leave a lasting impression within the community, beyond the call of duty as nurses. 

“I would describe the demand for furniture on this long-term care unit prior to this project as crucial,” says Janzen. “It was evident that the current furniture was broken down, worn, and simply not suitable to the resident's physical needs.” 

After starting their rotation at the facility in Regina, the students identified some things they could help with while they studied and worked there. The kinds of projects that would improve other people’s lives beyond the daily care that nursing is most notable for. 

“It was our orientation day there, and we all noticed the state of the furniture and immediately thought that we would not want to use them ourselves and could not imagine being a resident living there, and that being the only option in the common area,” says Sarah Kalmakoff, now in her fourth year of the SCBScN program. 

Using a connection she had with furniture retailer Ashley Homestore, Janzen reached out to see if this was something they would be willing to assist the students and the healthcare facility with. 

“I instantly knew that this was a significant initiative and we wanted to be a part of it”, says Christine Francis, a Director with Ashley Homestore. “Being able to support our health care and provide a clean, comfortable place for patients to spend quality time really just made sense”. 

Knowing they had the unwavering support of a supplier gave the students the boost of confidence they needed to continue to plan forward. 

“Without hesitation they agreed and the planning was under way. I have never been part of this kind of proposal before, but I have to say this is something I am very proud and honored to have been part of,” says Janzen. 
 
But Sask Polytech and U of R instructor, Cindy Kuster Orban says the project entailed more than simply picking up the phone and asking for a donation. 

“We conducted comprehensive scholarly research that supported our reflections - there is increased rates of recovery, optimism and self- esteem with a positive, inviting and esthetically pleasing environment.” 

The students included their research in their proposal to help advocate the positive effects that an improved environment can provide.  

“Rylei and I worked together to draft up a proposal asking for a donation of furniture or a reduced price in order for us to fundraise for it,” says Kalmakoff. “We highlighted important points to improve the physical environment of the unit - and our hope was, in turn, to see a reflected improvement in the mental well-being of the residents. We found this was especially important as long-term care residents are often bound to their living environment, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.” 

Once the proposal had been approved by management of the facility as well as the Saskatchewan Health Authority, the class looked through the Ashley Homestore catalogue to find suitable materials, height and firmness for a couch that could provide comfort and longevity for the common area. 

“We initially requested for a donation of a couch... it was Ashley Furniture who asked us to choose a loveseat and chair as well, as a donation to enhance the lounge. I am still overwhelmed by the generosity and kindness,” says Kuster Orban. 

The sofa and loveseat are already being put to good use by the residents of the Regina facility and the recliner is scheduled to join them in the coming weeks. Whether or not students of the SCBScN program find themselves working in the facility after graduation, they can be confident knowing they’ve left it a better place than when they started their first days of their rotation. 

“To see how happy it made the residents is a feeling I won't forget,” says Janzen. “This project made me feel excited going into my career as a registered nurse. I know there will be many opportunities for me going forward to promote change and well-being within my community. I want to continue to find areas where I am able to make a difference - and as Cindy would put it - leave a legacy." 

Interested in making a difference in health care? Learn more at www.sasknursingdegree.ca.  

Six individuals from nursing clinical group standing in a line


Saskatchewan Polytechnic is signatory to the SDG Accord. Sustainable Development Goal alignment is one of the ways Sask Polytech is leading the rise of polytechnic education.

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Published May 2022.