Ontario Shores Welcomes Former Nurse to Talk about Mental Health Care Past and Present

August 10, 2010
Dorothy AugustusOn July 29, staff at Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences (Ontario Shores) welcomed former nurse, Dorothy Augustus to the hospital and delighted in her eagerness to learn about how mental health care has advanced since she practiced here in the 1930s through 1960s.

Augustus worked as a nurse at the hospital, formerly known as Whitby Psychiatric Hospital, from about 1933 to 1937 and returned to work part-time from 1950 to 1966.

Visiting Ontario Shores gave Augustus, who will be 100 years old in January, 2011, the opportunity to reminisce about the past and learn about current practice in mental health nursing.

“There were about 75 patients in a cottage,” Augustus recalled. “There were two or three nurses working in the day and one at night, and we did everything, including the housekeeping.”

Augustus said the patients were quite sick when they came in, and they didn't have the medication or support systems that are available to mental health care providers today.

Nurses then were there to take care of people, but there was no expectation for recovery or goals to integrate back into the community as with mental health care today, she explained as she recalled taking a very sick woman to mass, describing how it brightened the patient's day. Later that afternoon the patient passed away, but Augustus beamed with joy as she retold the story. “Wasn't it wonderful that she came to mass! Those were the things we looked forward to. We weren't looking for people to get well.”

After viewing an historical slideshow and sharing stories about her nursing days, Augustus was introduced to Ontario Shores’ recovery-oriented model of care.

Under this model, patients play an active role in identifying their wellness goals in an environment that values strengths, autonomy and resilience. Ontario Shores staff work in collaboration with patients, families, other healthcare providers and the community to ensure patients reach their optimal recovery.

Augustus had an opportunity to visit the Psychiatric Rehabilitation Assessment unit, where she was greeted by staff and patients who showed her the recovery room created by patients and clinicians to foster education, sharing and support.

“Visiting with Dorothy was a pleasure,” said Debra Churchill, Interim Chief Nursing Executive and Director, Professional Practice. “I enjoyed hearing her stories and truly appreciated spending time with such a remarkable woman and nurse.”

For more information, or to set up an interview, please contact:

For more information, or to set up an interview, please contact:
Communications and Public Affairs
Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences
905-430-4055 ext. 4001