The Long Term Care homes have now become the front line of the Covid crisis ” Doug Ford April 14, 2020
This part of this crisis is breaking my heart. For several reasons. ( for this post I am making this all feminine to save words)
First of all I worked with LTC homes for 20 yrs of my career. It wasn’t my first choice but became one of my best choices. To be a nurse in LTC you have to have knowledge ( because you only catch the attention of a doctor for a few minutes in her busy day) , tenacity ( because sometimes there are the forgotten places in health care), compassion ( because you don’t just have a resident – you have her spouse, her daughter as your concern too), guts ( cause you fight to be noticed and given credence, sometimes even with your fellow nurses in acute care) and intuition ( for elderly people don’t always run the same fever, or the same symptoms of pneumonia and more than younger people). You MUST listen to the staff at the bedside for they know these residents as well as their own family. If they describe a subtle change you have to listen. It’s not easy nursing.
If Covid hits a long term care home it spreads. LTC residents don’t always understand “stay in your room “ or wash your hands. If you are fortunate to work in a home that has single rooms it’s a bit easier, but some residents don’t know their own rooms. I can’t imagine how it spreads in those with 4 bed wards. I know in MJ if in an influenza outbreak, “clean” staff could not work on the infected wing – or if spread to the entire home, cross between homes. That’s for everyone’s safety and hard on supply and budget. I have been there! Influenza outbreaks are common in winter in LTC. Staff knows how to handle it and moves into that mode quickly – but the reality of influenza was once 3-4 were tested positive, it was assumed the rest were. So if all are not tested for Covid, be assured the staff was busy elsewhere.
There is an assumption floating around that LTC has had Covid already in January and February because there were more deaths in those months. Friends, that is a sad reality of LTC. People in these homes are most often in their last year, and have more co-morbidities than in LTC homes of 20 yrs ago. More people stay at home longer so the LTC homes have the most vulnerable, and yes, they are often ill. Every year for 20 yrs that I worked there were more beds open in the first of the year than any other part of the year. And I don’t have to tell you how a bed opens. So this is normal. Christmas can be a sad and significant event. Family all gathers, and some of our dear 90 yr olds decide that they are ready for their heavenly home.
This doesn’t mean that the deaths in LTC are not breaking my heart. Each of those people are someone’s grandmother, mother, auntie, friend and beloved by the staff in the facility. These are sad days for our country. Families not saying goodbye. I know, if possible, a staff is there – for I have seen that. At Providence Place, when someone was dying, the staff got out the prayer book, if a Sister could not attend. It didn’t matter whether the staff had a faith base or not, those prayers were said, tears were shed, and you could feel the emotion palpable on the ward. The Sister’s no longer have a presence, but I know that, whichever home it is, the staff still are there..
And just as sad -Our respected elders not getting honoured with a funeral service
I have heard people dismissing deaths. “They were old anyways” This angers me.