Career Profiles:
Blanche Durocher, RPN

Blanche Durocher

Blanche Durocher grew up in LaSalle, Ontario before moving to Windsor where she studied at the country’s southernmost university. Before she even obtained her B.A. in Psychology, Blanche had already started studying practical nursing at St. Clair College. But her education didn’t stop once she became an RPN. The accomplished academic and self-professed life-long learner also obtained her Post-Baccalaureate Diploma in Management from Athabasca University.

Prior to becoming an RPN, Blanche worked as a personal support worker (PSW). Her career has spanned acute care and long-term care (LTC). But once she started working in home and community care (HCC) for SE Health, she thought, “This is it!” She loved the flexibility the sector provided, especially considering she had a three-year-old daughter at the time, who she’d aptly named “Destiny”.

“That’s the beauty of [HCC],” she says. “I was able to take care of my daughter and go to work; it was very flexible. Being in community has really let me be a hands-on parent and balance being a nurse and being a mom; it allows me to be the best I can be in both of those worlds.”

Blanche started as a visiting nurse with SE Health approximately 22 years ago in downtown west-end Windsor before becoming a personal support manager. She began working closely with PSWs and became passionate about helping them develop.

“Working with PSWs helped me become more compassionate,” Blanche says. “From there, I just wanted to learn and do more. I wondered, ‘What else can I do? How can I put myself in a position to lift up personal support managers and workers?’ It’s really important for me to do well and bring people with me, so that we can be excellent together.”

Blanche got promoted to the position of interim regional director in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. She admits starting a new position during a pandemic was “tough”, but she also focuses on the positive aspects.

“Things were changing all of the time. The science was evolving, and we were trying to figure out vaccinations, what the appropriate amount of PPE was and whether we had enough for all of our staff.

There was a lot of stress, but there was also a lot of support from the senior leaders. People really came together. There was so much more communication; we started using Teams and understanding how technology could leverage not only our home support systems, but also our clients, who were afraid to have us in their homes.”

Blanche explains how the pandemic pushed her team to learn how to provide virtual care safely and effectively. “It was rapid learning all the time,” she says smiling, as someone who clearly loves learning.

Blanche and her team even implemented a new model of care during the pandemic called H.O.P.E., which stands for Home Opportunity People Empower. This holistic model of care emphasizes clients’ specific life-care goals while empowering home care staff, patients and caregivers, which, Blanche attests, has led to increased patient and staff satisfaction. H.O.P.E. enables nurses to get to know their clients better and provide them with greater continuity of care.

“I’m very blessed to work with a very supportive team of women. I work with RNs and rehab professionals. It’s a phenomenal interdisciplinary team working together to solve problems and introduce and implement new models of care. It’s a very collaborative team.”

Soon after rolling out this new model of care, Blanche was promoted to Director of Personal Support Care, working with the professional practice team. Reflecting on her incredible career, Blanche recalls, “From where I started 25+ years ago to where we are now, nothing is truer regarding RPNs than the infamous slogan, ‘You’ve come a long way, baby!’ In almost any kind of healthcare setting, I think the respect has grown exponentially, and I think WeRPN has a lot to do with that. I feel like when we have that professional presence advocating for our role respectfully, then we can all shine as professionals. … So I see the leadership that we have in place and the respect continuing to grow.”

Blanche hopes to see more nurses in leadership positions in the future and wants to help them get there. She has a knack for noticing and nurturing these skills in other nurses. “People need to feel good about the work that they’re doing,” she says. “And when you recognize them for that, they want to keep doing great work. Ultimately, the person who wins at the end of the day is the client.”

As for her own success, she attributes it to a lot of hard work, formal education and being prepared and ready to take on challenges. “If you are willing to put in the work, good things will happen,” she says. “There’s a world of opportunity out there if you’re willing to create that path. Just keep going. And if somebody throws the ring, be ready to catch it.”

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