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Debra McLellan is the recipient of the 2018-19 Award for Accountability – one of the highest honours of Circle of Care’s employee recognition program, Champions of Care.

Providing a Better Quality of Life to Those in Need

As the first point of contact for caregivers and community members desperate for answers and resources, Debra McLellan’s voice on the other end of the line can’t come quickly enough.

“I have heard many times that I’m the first person who took the time to provide information and answer their questions. I hear a lot of relief over the phone, too,” says Debra. “That is still my best reward. I’m providing information that can seem trivial or commonplace, but to a caller who has no options or knowledge, it can be a lifesaver.”

Sharing life-saving knowledge and resources with the community

Debra pulls from an abundance of home care knowledge and experience as an integral part of Circle of Care’s Information and Referral department. Debra and the rest of colleagues listen carefully, answer questions, and offer solutions to the wide array of questions and concerns that they hear on a daily basis.

“On one phone call, I can be cheerfully talking to someone who is looking for a ride to a medical appointment, and then my next phone call can be a somber one with an older adult who has no money or food. It’s really different from call to call, and sometimes I can be dealing with real crisis situations,” Debra says.

Debra finds her role extremely satisfying because she’s able to help people on a consistent basis. “We have such great services at Circle of Care, that it’s a joy to be able to refer people into the various programs that they never even knew existed.” And when there are situations with no easy in-house solution, Debra relies on her Social Worker colleagues to help as much as they can with community resources or programs.

Collaborating together through a rich variety of backgrounds

Debra joined Circle of Care twenty years ago, and has watched the Information and Referral department grow and change over the years.

“We all have different cultural backgrounds and language abilities,” says Debra. “The variety of skills we each bring to the role allows us to ensure that we are providing our callers with the best possible experience.”

One of the unique and important populations that Circle of Care serves is Holocaust Survivors, many of whom are Russian-speaking. A few of Debra’s colleagues speak Russian, and Circle of Care offers the ability to make appointments for Russian-speaking phone sessions.

Celebrated for her contributions to accountability

In May 2019, Debra was honoured with the Champions of Care Award for Accountability. The Award for Accountability is given to an employee who is trusted by clients and families, helps to provide them with a better quality of life, and showcases integrity and transparency in their role.

Debra was nominated multiple times by her manager for a variety of cases she helped to resolve.

In one instance, she assisted a woman who was rightfully concerned about her elderly neighbour, who lived alone and felt isolated. Debra provided the woman with resources and information, allowing her to advocate on behalf of her neighbour. As a result, the isolated woman was able to receive additional services and help. The neighbour later called back to say “Your insistence really helped me, and your kindness was invaluable. Thank you!”

In another case, she received a call from Ontario 211 near the end of a busy day regarding an older adult who hadn’t eaten for two days, and didn’t have any food. Debra worked with the transportation department to facilitate the delivery of emergency meals right away, and put in an urgent referral to our social work team, who sent out a social worker the following day to conduct a home visit.

“My recent recognition was a surprise and honour!” says Debra. “Receiving the Award for Accountability has helped me to renew my motivation and to recognize how worthwhile the work I do is at Circle of Care.”