“CHKC keeps consumers as independent as possible”
Christine Nichols admits that since COVID-19 she has felt more isolated.
A resident at Rotary Cheshire Apartments (RCA) in the Willowdale neighbourhood of Toronto for several years now, Christine has tried to make the best of her ‘new normal’.
A former nurse, Christine was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa in 1970. “I did not become legally blind until 1980,” she says, “And by 2000, 30 years after I was diagnosed, I had lost all my vision. It was a progressive loss.”
Christine was not aware she had difficulty with her hearing until after 2000. “There’s no treatment,” she reveals, “so I use hearing aids.”
Christine graduated from Wellesley School of Nursing in 1965 and in 1981, 10 years after her diagnosis, she started working at Goodwill Industries of Toronto.
“I developed the program evaluation system for the Vocational Rehabilitation Division of Goodwill Industries, funded by Ontario’s Ministry of Community and Social Services. It was challenging and rewarding.”
Christine says, ”Because of my failing vision through the nineteen eighties I had one of the first talking computers.”
It was at Goodwill Industries of Toronto that Christine met the love of her life, Peter. “One of the reasons I fell in love with Peter was because he understood, without being blind himself, what I was going through and what I needed to function.”
Christine adds, “He said, it does not matter how much you can or cannot see, what is really important is what you do with what you have.”
Progressive before it was fashionable, Peter and Christine lived together, common-law from 1981. They married in 2009.
When Christine’s hearing loss became a problem, Peter found CHKC through the Internet.
Sadly, Peter died of renal failure in 2016.
“I remember phoning CHKC sometime in 2014 and speaking to a woman named Marta. We spoke for 45 minutes about hearing aids. Then, after Peter’s death I called again and spoke to the same woman. She remembered me. Can you believe it? Two years later and she remembered me! Within a week she came to visit and provided information about Intervenor (IV) Services.”
Christine began receiving IV outreach services before she moved into RCA.
“As a resident there is a tremendous feeling of security in knowing if I need help it is here,” she says proudly. “CHKC keeps consumers as independent as possible.”
COVID-19 has brought more isolation because of social distancing policies. However, Christine helps maintain the Training Centre garden, and writes and edits the Willowdale Commentator. These interests keep her busy.
In addition, she still receives her 24 hours of IV services a week.
“Intervenor Services helps consumers to do what they have always done and enjoyed.”