Family concerned over seniors in isolation
SUDBURY -- A local woman is raising concerns about the impact of isolation on her mother, a resident of a long-term care facility.
Monique Hardy is used to visiting her mother Colette, a resident of Sudbury’s city-run Pioneer Manor, multiple times a week.
With visitor restrictions in place, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hardy is worried about the impact this is having on her mother.
"All my mom does is cry," said Hardy.
"All she does is cry, she makes me cry and then I can’t sleep at night because that’s all I worry about, is her. I mean, I’m her rock."
Colette, who is 92 years old and suffers from dementia, is having a hard time adjusting to the changes in society over the last two weeks.
Hardy tried to explain to her on their last visit, it would most likely the final one for a while, but that message didn’t sink in.
"I worry about my mom because it’s not the coronavirus that’s going to kill her, it’s the loneliness. She cries every day and she’s barely eating."
In addition to frequently visiting her mother, Hardy volunteers at the facility.
She worries without frequent family visits, nobody will be concerned about her mother’s mental well-being.
"They have to be our voice. I’m my mother’s voice but they have to be my voice for her."
According to Aaron Archibald, director of long-term care services at Pioneer Manor, Colette is far from the only resident suffering dementia.
He says 70 per cent of residents have some sort of cognitive impairment.
In response to COVID-19, Archibald says new protocols have been put in place.
"We’ve also set up a list of families that want to schedule in time and have FaceTime with their family member and so we have a whole dedicated staff, we have been for a week and a half doing that."
The facility also recently purchased multiple new iPads to ensure all residents have an opportunity for video calls with family members.
Archibald says one was even donated by a random Samaritan, whose identity remains a mystery.
Staff that are typically dedicated to lifestyle activities have also seen a heightened sense of importance in recent weeks.
"We have dedicated staff that are there to just do life enrichment activities. Everything from painting and arts and crafts to reading, storytelling and what we do is we tailor make our one-to-one activities based off of the need and the medical diagnosis of our resident."
According to Hardy, she often struggles to reach nurses on staff and wishes there was a better system in place for communicating with family members.
"They need to reach to us," Harding says.
"There has to be somebody that’s going to reach-out to us to tell us your mother keeps crying all day. Should we put her on medication to calm her down or what?"
With many seniors homes across the country facing limited staffing resources, Anthony Quinn, chief community officer for the Canadian Association of Retired Persons, says it's not a simple solution.
"The care homes have a responsibility to make sure that they are doing their best to protect all of the residents…I don’t think it’s a situation where the employees are not doing their best work. It’s a situation where the system itself isn’t providing enough hours for the individual PSW’s or care workers or nurses to spend the individual time."
At Pioneer Manor, Archibald says they have developed new internal communication systems in response to the virus, including daily updates for the leadership team and frequently reaching out to both resident and family counsels.
He adds severe changes in health are immediately communicated through the proper channels.
"Every resident has a care plan and that care plan clearly delineates who is the power of attorney and who is to be communicated to and we have strict regulation in place from the province and we adhere to that, to ensure that at all times when there is a change that needs to be notified, the nursing staff immediately contact the power of attorney."
Hardy is hopeful that one recent positive phone conversation with her mother proves to set a new norm for the family.
"Just because they are old doesn’t mean they aren’t human. They need our love. They need our hugs."