Dementia Connections Feature Article
We are so grateful to have been featured in the Dementia Connections Magazine. Take a read below, or visit their website to read the full feature: Dementia Connections.
My Health Journals: Forging a path for everyone to have a say in their health
When Shelley McLellan was taking care of her brother Dwight, who was diagnosed with an incurable brain tumour in 2006, she was not aware that the experience would make a big change in her life and her family's life.
A couple of years later, Dwight passed away peacefully in his house, surrounded by his family and loved ones.
Shelley was beside him and it was then that she realized how important it was for somebody to be able to pass away at home–enveloped by the love of family and people dear to them.
That was why when Shelley was presented with an opportunity to pursue something she was passionate about, she did not hesitate to go back to school and become a healthcare provider.
For many years, Shelley served the community as a Health Care Aide and a Licensed Practical Nurse. This journey allowed her to develop a medical, technical, and emotional understanding of the critical role nurses play in somebody’s life and inspired her to start Aspen Care Health in Calgary.
Established in 2009, Aspen Care provides nursing services that help individuals live with dignity and remain as safe, comfortable, and independent for as long as possible.
As a nurse, most of her day is spent with clients–listening to their stories, taking care of them, and establishing a relationship with her client’s family.
With the hope of providing her clients with a better quality of life, Shelley would let them dictate how the day should go. There’s no schedule set and they have the liberty to be able to do the things they love to do–this was something that the client and their family really appreciated.
"I’m happy to be able to embrace this flexibility and maybe that is why people decided to stay with us. The Aspen House was a beautiful home for everybody. We had a huge backyard where people could spend time together with the community,” says Shelley.
Besides the daily nursing activities, Shelley’s day-to-day work would also include monitoring the slightest changes in her client’s health and reporting these changes to the family and to their doctors. This information is often stored in various folders, in various documentation, and now on various digital platforms.
A lot of previous health records and health tracking can get lost through the years. Shelley thought if there’s a more efficient way to perform her duty while nurturing her relationship with her clients, she was willing to be the one to pave the way for it. This concept then gave birth to My Health Journals.
When the pandemic changed the world in 2020, Shelley embraced it as an opportunity to serve the community better. She worked as a frontline LPN, COVID-19 swabber, and a travelling nurse. She used this time to pivot her company and officially establish My Health Journals, a division of Aspen Care Health. My Health Journals are designed to help individuals or even nurses take care of their clients on a deeper level. The Journals allow individuals to write detailed information about their likes or dislikes, food sensitivities, medical history, etc.
The content of these journals was developed by Shelley’s team of nurses at Aspen Care and was beautifully laid out by artist and designer, Kyra Weston, who also serves as the Marketing Director for the company.
“I’ve always had the desire to be able to communicate with my clients efficiently and on a more personal level,” Shelley muses. So, what started as a thick binder full of papers and documents, has now become one health journal that anybody could use.
The beauty of these journals is that they complement the goals of every individual who wants to take ownership of their health. A physical journal allows people to take control of their own thoughts and their time.
They are not exposed to distractions sent by mobile notifications or ads from browsing the internet, and their medical information is private, not sold to third-party data collectors.
The time they spend filling out these journals is genuine and raw. And because it is created by nurses, the Journal sections are more comprehensive and detailed as if you are being taken care of by nurses.
“My goal is to be able to send out these journals in every province in Canada and provide these journals to seniors in need. I think everybody, at some point in their life, is going to need it,” says Shelley.
When she has set clear goals and envisioned her small business as a driving force to a healthier community, that’s when Shelley realized that there are a lot of people who are willing to support her in achieving these goals.
To this day, a number of non-profit organizations have gifted these journals to their senior communities, the journals have been shipped in different parts of Canada and the U.S., and more media platforms are talking about this initiative.
“When I hear about what people think of these journals and receive positive feedback from the users, it just inspires me to keep going,” Shelley shares.
Her team is now in the process of producing a second edition, which they hope to release during the Fall of this year. “I’m excited to see where the second edition will lead us, I trust this year will take us to a place where when we look back a year from now, we will see how far we’ve come.”
Visit the Dementia Connections Marketplace for more information about My Health Journals.