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Alberta health care aide steps in as hairstylist for seniors

Click to play video 'Health care aide steps in as hairstylist for seniors' Health care aide steps in as hairstylist for seniors
Long-term care worker Rommel Arguelles is helping residents at Covenant Health’s Youville Home feel a little more like themselves through the power of a good hairstyle. As Morgan Black shows us, love is in the "hair" thanks to one healthcare hero – Feb 19, 2021

A health care worker is tapping in to the power of a good hairstyle.

Rommel Arguelles is a health care aide at Covenant Health’s Youville Home in St. Albert. He works on Unit 5, helping residents with daily activities like getting dressed, eating and bathing.

However, on top of his regular work roles, Arguelles is also acting as part glam squad for residents. Many living facilities have restricted visitors due to COVID-19, so hairdressers are not able to enter.

Read more: ‘It felt like he had been seen’: Edmonton continuing care residents captured in portraits by staff member

“I’m not cutting their hair, but I’ll brush their hair, comb it out. Maybe do a ponytail or a braid,” he explained.

One resident, Inge Small, is a former hairdresser, but she prefers to have Arguelles style her hair.

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Rommel Arguelles and Inge Small in an undated photo. Courtesy: Covenant Health
“I’ll do a hairstyle I saw on TV earlier in the week, something like that….just to make her look her best,” he said. “I make sure I always put her in front of the mirror [to watch] and make her feel comfortable.”

Arguelles said residents are already feeling lonely because they can’t connect with family members — a little conversation while he styles their hair goes a long way.

Click to play video 'Alberta offering COVID vaccine to all seniors 75 and older' Alberta offering COVID vaccine to all seniors 75 and older
Alberta offering COVID vaccine to all seniors 75 and older – Feb 19, 2021

“It’s simply being with them or having a chat…with the pandemic, we can’t have family visitations,” Arguelles said. “It’s all about the small things.”

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Arguelles said he picked up some hair styling skills when his daughter was a child, but he has also been seeking out hair tutorials on YouTube.

“Just little things that would help me do some new styles, that make residents look and feel good about themselves.”

He doesn’t do elaborate styles on most of the residents, but the health care aide said anyone who comes in to have their hair brushed or combed leaves with a smile on their face.

“I hope that [those conversations] make a difference for them. It’s a big thing for me,” he said.
The Unit 5 teams poses in Youville Home. Courtesy: Covenant Health

The part-time hairstylist said he’s not the only one going above and beyond for his residents.

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“It’s everyone who works here. We are like a family here. We care about the people who live in the facility,” he said. “I love to come to work. I love these people.”