Social distancing and shelter in place orders are hard for us all but it can be especially hard on the residents of long term care facilities and retirement homes, whose residents are most at risk from COVID-19.
Cindy Parent, the manager of Carefree Manor, said that she and her team took early steps to prevent any possible infection weeks ago when the pandemic was first declared.
“I enjoy the interaction with the seniors, getting to know their history, so many of these residents have such amazing stories to tell about what they may have gone through,” Parent said. “We have a few that have been in this community for a number of years and it’s interesting to hear what 100 Mile House was like a number of years ago.”
The average age of most of the residents of Carefree Manors is right around 90, with their oldest resident sitting at 95 years of age, with 18 staff members tasked with looking after them. Parent said for her and many of her employees it’s just such a joy to be a part of their client’s everyday life, to the point where in some cases they become like part of their extended family for them.
The manor made its first efforts to secure the safety of residents around four weeks ago, Parent said when they restricted visitors to Carefree Manor, a move that has since been made at care homes province-wide. They’ve also begun serving meals in resident’s rooms as, unfortunately, their dining room is not large enough to house all their clients while social distancing. They’ve hired on a few new staff members to help with this effort specifically and have begun wearing PPE like gloves and masks, as well as changing clothes when they get to work.
Otherwise, they’ve asked residents to avoid going downtown or into public areas which she said has been really tough for the residents. The goal is to limit exposure to anyone outside of Carefree Manors, Parent said, beyond staff members.
“If family members want to drop off items we meet them outside and we sanitize anything that’s being brought into the facility so they get little goody bags or treasures brought by but that’s about the extent (of visiting) at this time,” Parent said. “Some residents and family members will go to a window and talk on phones back and forth so they can see their family members, but unfortunately that’s the only way we can accommodate visiting.”
To compensate for the lack of visitors, Parent and her team are starting to ramp up activities and events for the seniors to take part in. These include a balloon volleyball activity that a group of residents really enjoy, holding bingo sessions in larger areas where residents can spread out more and encouraging social time in rooms where they’ve removed some chairs so they don’t sit too close together.
Parent said they’re trying to think of some new activities for the seniors to do and while she hasn’t come up with any yet, she more than welcomes suggestions from family members and residents.
“For the most part, residents are very understanding as to why these restrictions are put in place. Of course, there’s frustration especially with those independent residents who would drive downtown and go and visit family members, so I totally get that frustration of that not being an option to do. As time goes on I can definitely see it being a bit more trying so we’re encouraging residents to come out of their rooms and sit in the courtyard, get some fresh air.”
As far as how long these restrictions will be in place, Parent said she wished she knew when they’ll be able to lift them. While she hopes for the best, she said she’s preparing for the worst and said it will be a least a month to a month and a half, though that guess is just a shot in the dark and will depend on how many new cases pop up in B.C.
Parent would like to thank the residents of Carefree Manor for being so understanding, even as their daily routines are turned upside down, and their families for being accommodating, especially those who used to come to visit on a daily basis. While it’s tough to do she hopes that with a bit more patience and time we’ll start to see restrictions ease a bit.
“This is definitely something that is uncharted territory for us all, something I never would have imagined happening in our lifetime, a worldwide pandemic, hopefully, it does not last too much longer,” Parent said.