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A new normal

Contributor
Familiar sights and sounds are slowly coming back at our rural long-term care facility.

Long-term care (LTC) has been the most affected sector of healthcare in this pandemic.

Residents’ lives were turned upside down. Our once-bustling country long-term care home became strangely quiet.

There were no campfires, musical entertainments, sights of residents coming and going to appointments or shopping, no Saturday morning produce markets or the smiling faces of volunteers.

Residents had to wave to their family through the window while asking, “but why can’t they (families) come inside?” They did not understand it was all to keep them safe from a deadly virus. We implemented video calls, but it was a new technology that was unfamiliar to some of our residents.

Our recreation therapists, Personal Support Workers (PSWs), nurses, environmental workers, and even the maintenance folks in the home stepped up to entertain, comfort and keep our residents company. We rolled with the never-ending changes to policies and procedures. We sat for countless COVID-19 swabs and lined up for our vaccines as soon as we could. We did anything and everything to keep our residents safe. 

We are now seeing the light at the end of this long, bleak tunnel. Our efforts at keeping the virus out of the home paid off as we did not have a single COVID-19 case in our resident population. Our robust infection control practices continue, even though almost all our residents and staff are vaccinated.

Families are coming back to visit, volunteers are starting to come back for outside activities, and the sun is finally coming out again. Residents can go out to see the swans and their new babies swimming in the pond; one of their favourite activities.

We still must wear our masks, though, and smiling faces are what everyone misses most. Our smiles show care and love towards our residents, and they can’t help but smile back at us. Those with and without dementia respond greatly to a smiling face.

I know we are all greatly looking forward to the day we can remove our masks and smile at our residents again. If we keep persevering, that day will come. 

We are now seeing the light at the end of this long, bleak tunnel. Our efforts at keeping the virus out of the home paid off as we did not have a single COVID-19 case in our resident population. Our robust infection control practices continue, even though almost all our residents and staff are vaccinated.

Families are coming back to visit, volunteers are starting to come back for outside activities, and the sun is finally coming out again. Residents can go out to see the swans and their new babies swimming in the pond; one of their favourite activities.

We still must wear our masks, though, and smiling faces are what everyone misses most. Our smiles show care and love towards our residents, and they can’t help but smile back at us. Those with and without dementia respond greatly to a smiling face.

I know we are all greatly looking forward to the day we can remove our masks and smile at our residents again. If we keep persevering, that day will come. 

 

About Jessica Emmerson-Reidpath

Jessica Emmerson-Reidpath has been nursing for over five years at Wellington Terrace LTC in Fergus, Ontario. She graduated from Georgian College with honours in 2008 and from the Palliative Care course at Conestoga College in 2019. Jessica has always worked in long-term care as she loves caring for the elderly and especially those at the end of life. She is a life-long learner and is currently enrolled in a Medical Cannabis course through the University of Colorado Boulder.

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