Caring Is a Calling

Health Care Aide Nathan Piansay says everyone just wants to be treated with respect.

 Nathan Piansay says he loves to see the residents of Wentworth Manor smiling and laughing. Photo by Erin Brooke Burn

Nathan Piansay says he loves to see the residents of Wentworth Manor smiling and laughing. Photo by Erin Brooke Burn

It didn’t take Brian Henson long to warm up to health care aide Nathan Piansay. Henson, an 86-year-old resident of Wentworth Manor (a long-term care and assisted-living facility in Calgary run by the Brenda Strafford Foundation), sometimes found it challenging to adjust to new caregivers—but Piansay’s lighthearted approach and professionalism won him over.

Piansay laughs when he remembers his first days with Henson. “You have to prove to Brian that you know what you’re doing,” he says.

Fortunately, Piansay does know what he’s doing. After six years as a health care aide at Wentworth Manor, Piansay has also become its safety officer, and he helps to train casual staff.

His grandparents lived with him when he was growing up in the Philippines, and he remembers how lovingly his parents looked after them. “I’m far from home, and by working with seniors, I feel like I’m close to my parents,” Piansay says.

I’m far from home, and by working with seniors, I feel like I’m close to my parents.
— Nathan Piansay

According to Barbara Henson, Brian’s care partner and wife of 53 years, Piansay is unfailingly patient, respectful and professional, but he also has a lightness that cheers her husband up. “[Piansay] calls him Bri. He jokes around with him,” she says.

Henson has dementia and is recovering from hemiplegia (paralysis of one side of the body), the result of a 2010 stroke. As part of an initiative by Wentworth Manor, he recently had his care plan changed so that Piansay is his health care aide most of the time. “They said, ‘We’re going to make Brian happy. We’ll give him Nathan full-time,’” says Barbara Henson.

Piansay describes the caregiving profession as a calling. He makes an effort to be patient, both with residents and co-workers, and to brighten everyone’s day. “Everyone wants to be respected,” he says. His career is a passion for him, one he describes as challenging but rewarding. He says he gains a lot of knowledge from the elders he works with.

Knowing her husband has a talented, dedicated care worker gives Barbara Henson peace of mind. She says she knows her husband is happy each day in a comfortable home with attentive caregivers.

“I can’t say enough about how wonderful they all are. I’m just so impressed,” she says. But Piansay is her favourite — and her husband’s too. “I just love him,” she says. [ ]