CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – It all began on a farm in Morell.
Growing up, Shirley James, along with her four younger siblings, was expected to help out with the daily chores on the family farm.
James said school was important, but she can remember her father always saying ‘you fellas get your lessons done now’ so they could help milk the cows, clean out stalls and pick fresh produce.
“I’m a good ole country girl,” said James who now lives in Sherwood. “I get my work ethic from living on a farm.”
The registered nurse (RN), who works in the Harbour Unit at Beach Grove Home, was recently recognized for not only her work ethic, but also for her outstanding person-centered care.
James received the second annual Provincial Shelley L. Woods Excellence in Person-Centered Care Award during the Making a Connection Conference in Summerside recently.
The award is presented annually to a long-term care staff member who most embodies and reflects the spirit of person-centred care through their work and interactions with residents.
“I was totally flabbergasted,” said James. “I was just blown away, I’m still blown away by it.”
Andrew MacDougall, director of long-term care for Health P.E.I., said James is widely respected by her peers and by residents at Beach Grove Home.
“She is known as someone that quietly, but resolutely and effectively, gets things done and moves the residents agenda forward,” said MacDougall.
James was the valedictorian in the first graduating class of the P.E.I. School of Nursing in 1972. She went on to work at the Charlottetown Hospital for 10 years.
“I was the assistant head nurse on the surgery floor and I learned a lot, especially from Dr. Kenny Grant,” said James. “He was a great teacher and mentor, so I had a great start there.”
Then life happened. She had her oldest daughter and worked on-call shifts for about five years at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, which opened in 1982.
In 1987, she took some courses in gerontology, got her certification in geriatrics and started working at the Sacred Heart Home.
“I fell in love with it,” said James.
After the Sacred Heart Home closed in 1995, she went to work at Sunset Lodge. She worked as an RN for a year before becoming the director of nursing. She stayed there until it closed in 2001.
She then moved on to the Notre Dame Convent until it closed in 2013.
She began working at Beach Grove Home in 2013 and has been there ever since.
“It’s been great,” said James.
She praises staff and colleagues as well as the programs and activities that go on at the facility for its residents.
“We really try to make this end of their journey as pain free and as much fun and as respectable as it possibly can be.”
James says she finds joy in helping residents at Beach Grove Home and gratification in seeing people improve as well as building a rapport with families.
She also has a soft spot for those who don’t have any family or have family that live far away.
Looking back, James says she no regrets on becoming a nurse 45 years ago.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed every job that I’ve had,” said James. “There (were) different riches and benefits that came out of them all, and it made me a better person all the way around.”