Couple chooses home first

Clifford and Shirley

For nearly 60 years, Clifford and Shirley have faced life together with humour, hardwork, creativity and determination. It’s this same approach that has helped them handle their health issues in recent years.

“Where  there’s a will, there’s  a way,” said Clifford, who was left without the use of his right arm and leg following a stroke four years ago. Around the same time, Shirley lost her left leg above the knee due to poor circulation. While the couple knew it wouldn’t be easy, they never considered leaving their home.

With the help of a supportive family and health care professionals, Clifford and Shirley manage most of the daily activities and chores that allow them to remain at home. She does the laundry, while cooking duties are shared. Shirley  handles peeling and prep, and Clifford is in charge of cooking and baking.

“They are extremely motivated,” said Janelle Knickle, an occupational therapist who first met the couple four years ago when they were patients at the Arthur H Paterson Centre for Restorative Care in Lunenburg. Now working with the South Shore’s community-based rehabilitation services team, Janelle continues to provide recommendations and support to help Clifford and Shirley with daily living activities, equipment, and therapeutic home exercise programs.

“They certainly haven’t let their challenges get in their way of living full lives,” says Knickle, who continues to be inspired by the couple’s ingenuity.

Clifford and Shirley’s level of independence is supported through Nova Scotia Health Authority’s continuing care services and the use of mobility aids. Care co-ordinator Brenda Peters has arranged for home care workers to visit the couple three times a week to help with personal care needs and basic housekeeping. On the mobility side, they both recently received new wheelchairs through Continuing Care’s Seniors Community Wheelchair Loan Program.

Shirley wears a warm smile when she talks about the support they receive from the health system and from family, friends and neighbours who pitch in to help whenever needed as well.   

“We couldn’t get better care and support.”

The couple likes to keep busy. In addition to Clifford’s many hours spent maintaining the lawn, splitting and piling firewood, and smoking fish in the back yard,  he focuses on coming up with ideas, tools and techniques to help him and Shirley do the chores and hobbies they enjoy. His most recent creation was a device to bundle his kindling, which he brings inside using a wagon attached to the front of his power wheelchair.

“You have to have it in your mind to get up in the morning and say this is what I’m going to do today,” he said.  “I feel better when I’m working.”


For more information and access to Continuing Care services call 1-800-225-7225.