Covid-19 weekly update as of May 18th, 2020
The Gift of Covid-19 to our Family
My husband and I are from a small town in Manitoba. My husband’s 93-year-old mother-in-law and siblings are still there. Prior to March 15 when the lock-down in Manitoba started, my mother-in-law underwent a procedure that left her feeling unwell. The family felt that she could not go back to her Retirement Home where she resided in Independent Living. My brother-in-law and his wife agreed to have her stay with them while she was recovering for the next few days. What happened after that was short of a miracle. As she continued to recover, they began to notice that she was not herself. The family soon realized that she might be taking too much medication and it was causing her confusion. They began to adjust her medication under a doctor’s supervision and over the next two weeks her confusion diminished. She became more involved with helping prepare meals and perform general household duties like sweeping a floor and folding laundry. It is now seven weeks and she is still at their house. My mother-in-law is much more engaged in life, energetic and happy.
André Picard, writer for the Globe and Mail, wrote an article on April 2, 2020 called “If you can get your relatives out of seniors’ homes, try to do so as fast as you can.” The article encourages families to consider taking their loved ones out of LTC and Retirement Homes during the pandemic. Our initial goal was to help my mother-in-law recover and keep her safe from Covid-19. The real miracle however was the opportunity to see that she is much happier and living a fuller life when supported by family members nearby. We are blessed to have witnessed this miracle!
Covid-19 weekly update as of May 11th, 2020
The medical reasons for social/physical distancing are understandable in the current COVID-19 pandemic. However, for those of us who have familiarity with daily life in long-term care, the social-psychological implications to residents, families/friends, and staff of enforced isolation are a related, significant cause for concern. What is already a challenging environment in relation to keeping an older adult socially connected and participating in the broader community has been made harder in ways that as a society we have not imagined. Evidence of gestures to reach out and connect with parents, grandparents, aunts, cousins and friends are seen across this country, aided by digital technologies and inventive face-to-face visits, through protective windows and sliding doors. In daily news updates on COVID-19, the brutality of current restrictions has become glaring; it is increasingly hard to witness images of older adults being separated from loved ones, even as we appreciate the medical necessity. While we understand the gravity of public health and the need to protect the most vulnerable members of society and those who provide care, we also need to strive to create safe and welcoming spaces that balance safety, risk, and the right for social connection.
Going forward, co-housing might well be a leader in the quest to design and support housing and care approaches for older adults who would like the option to age in place. This objective is driven by the desire to remain socially connected, a desire we recognize to be shared by a growing proportion of the older Canadian population. Although the definitions of co-housing vary in gerontological literature and practice, models tend to share a commitment to scale and philosophy that will allow for flexibility, continued community involvement, and social innovations that will be vital to changing the nature of care environments post-COVID-19. Because we can’t turn back the clock, and don’t want to return to the status quo, we all need to take responsibility for meeting and responding to the challenges ahead. These challenges are multifaceted, involving ethical, legal, economic, political, medical, social, and other related concerns. In the immediate future, Canadian society will watch and learn from small, innovative approaches similar to the one Memory Lane is developing.
Elizabeth Kelson, PhD
Covid-19 weekly update as of May 4th, 2020
Covid-19 weekly update as of April 27th, 2020
Another week into Covid-19 and the Long-Term Care sector continues to make the front page in newspapers. Yesterday, I listened to a CBC interview with Pat Armstrong, a professor at York University, discussing a study of Long-Term Care that she was part of called “Reimagining Long-term Residential Care.” She and her team studied Long-Term Care (LTC) in seven countries.
Armstrong’s study shows that Private, for-profit Organizations do not belong in Health Care. The studies she conducted demonstrate that for-profit corporations result in more hospital transfers, more bed ulcers and less staffing than Municipal or not-for-profit homes. Armstrong mentions that the best LTC home models are from Norway, Sweden and Germany. Germany has a moto: put life into years, not years into a life.
We at Memory Lane Home Living have replicated a cohousing model of living for seniors with dementia from Germany. These not-for-profit homes are part of an organization called Friends of the Elderly. Friends of the Elderly have successfully operated their small, cooperative houses for over twenty-five years. Their original six houses have inspired replication of over 5,000 of these homes throughout Germany! The gentleman who oversees the original six homes—Mr. Klaus Pawlteko, advisor to our Board of Directors—said that he has never had a lawsuit or a fire in his cooperative homes. This is something noteworthy.
I had a conversation with our German cohort last Thursday. Klaus mentioned that the LTC system in Germany is struggling with Covid-19 outbreaks and that this virus has taken the lives of many of their seniors in Germany’s LTC facilities. I asked if Friends of the Elderly’s original six homes were struggling with a Covid-19 outbreak. They are not! Klaus is humbled by this, but at the same time cautious.
Friends of the Elderly are not motivated by greed or economies of scale. The purpose of Friends of the Elderly homes is to support quality of life for their seniors by offering them freedom, respect and purpose in a home environment. They house no more than 6-8 seniors with a full-time shift of support workers 24 hours/day. Families and volunteers help the support workers. Klaus mentioned that the families and volunteers are respecting physical distancing during this time and, to date, no Covid-19 outbreaks have occurred in these homes.
This shows that families of loved ones in LTC are willing to point out a broken system. This is something we have known about for years. Are we willing to try something new here in Canada?
Covid-19 weekly update as of April 20th, 2020
Last week, Long-Term Care (LTC) made headlines. The news is reporting that approximately 50% of all Covid-19 deaths occur in LTC. Our provincial government announced that they would begin testing staff and residents in LTC. (April 15, 2020, COVID-19 action plan: long-term care homes).
This is reasonable. However, I wonder if the government is acting on this? It would appear that unless an outbreak occurs, tests are not being administered. Bradford Valley Care Community Nursing Home has had over 7 deaths, and 33 cases testing positive for Covid-19. They tested all employees and residents. Southlake Hospital helped administer 500 tests. Unfortunately, this is a reactive approach. Perhaps if we were proactive in the testing it would be less costly in terms of deaths that are occurring, as well as lowering the cost to our health care system.
I spoke to a PSW working at a LTC home this morning. The facility she works at is only doing the screening. She says they have no Covid-19 cases in their home. How does one know conclusively without testing? I find this unacceptable on many levels. The death statistics in long-term care defend the need for proactive testing. Undertesting is not attracting employment opportunities to replace staff shortages due to “fear of the unknown.” It has been well documented that many of our LTC seniors are dying of neglect because of staff shortages due to health care workers not willing to risk their lives for “the unknown.” At the end of the day, it is our beloved seniors who suffer at the hands of our government. It will take a country to come together and be a voice for our seniors.
I was informed of a grass-roots organization called change.org which created a petition to support health workers. It was created by families in LTC who are crying out for change as they witness their loved ones dying. I went online and signed the petition and passed it on through our Memory Lane Home Living Inc. Facebook page. I would encourage all of you to stand behind the petition. Just like all of us, the government needs some guidance and direction from the people it serves. Here is our chance!
Covid-19 Weekly Update, for the week of April 13th, 2020
We are closely monitoring government Covid-19 updates, as well as information from other news sources.
This past weekend was an opportunity to reflect on the “big picture.” We are certainly living in unprecedented times!
Did you know, however, that a little over 100 years ago when the influenza pandemic of 1918—the Spanish flu—broke out, people were unable to conceive of the sheer amount of losses that would ensue. An estimated one third of the world’s population became infected, and more victims succumbed to this pandemic than those killed in World War l. This is because the health sector and medical services that we enjoy today did not exist in the previous century. Nations were still recovering from losses incurred during World War I when the Spanish flu hit. The world moved forward after the pandemic in spite of the tremendous loss it presented.
Easter weekend may have left you wondering, Where is God in all of this? CNN interviewed Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life, What on Earth Am I Here For? and founder of the Saddleback Church, on Thursday, April 10 th. Rick believes that we can see God in the hearts of people helping on the front lines. God is also in the same place he was when his son died on the cross; in the thick of humanity, in the midst of our pain, grief and perplexity.
You may also wonder, Why does God allow this pandemic to happen? Rick Warren explained on national television that this is not heaven, but earth. Earth is not supposed to be perfect.
I think that the current pandemic offers an opportunity to explore, and better understand, the “big picture.” In that broader context, we will get through this difficult time just as out forefathers before us got through war, influenzas, polio, tuberculosis, depressions and recessions. If we look back in history, we are inspired by those who moved forward in spite of setbacks.
Let’s do the best we can in this challenging time and leave the outcome to God.
Covid-19 Weekly Update, for the week of April 6th 2020
In light of the current Covid-19 situation we are following the guidelines set out by our provincial and federal government. We have suspended our programs, until we hear differently from our government. We would encourage you stay home in an effort to stop the spread of Covid-19. This is our message to support the hospitals and their health care workers. We would also like to express our gratitude to all the health care professionals and more; thank you also to the store clerks keeping the grocery stores open, the truck drivers transporting supplies, the drive-through restaurants that service the public and bring food to seniors, the food banks, the companies that are transforming their businesses to help produce medical supplies necessary for this pandemic and those who are staying at home and working from home. Thank you for doing your part in these times. #staysafe #covid19