Re­gion re­de­ploys work­ers to as­sist at long-term care homes

Staff help­ing res­i­dents use iPads, Skype to con­nect with fam­ily

The Standard (St. Catharines) - - Local - AL­LAN BEN­NER Al­lan.Ben­ner@ni­a­garadailie­ 905-225-1629 | @aben­ner1

Ni­a­gara Re­gion long-term care home staff are work­ing to make the best of a bad sit­u­a­tion.

As re­gional pro­grams and fa­cil­i­ties have been shut down to con­tain the spread of COVID-19, dozens of work­ers are be­ing re­de­ployed to as­sist se­niors in Ni­a­gara’s long-term care homes who are iso­lated due to vis­i­tor re­stric­tions.

Ni­a­gara se­niors com­mu­nity pro­gram ad­min­is­tra­tor Carol Rudel said about 50 staff who typ­i­cally work with se­niors in the com­mu­nity have been re­de­ployed to help res­i­dents of the Re­gion’s eight long-term care homes stay in touch with fam­ily mem­bers and friends.

The ad­di­tional staff have been help­ing res­i­dents use iPads and com­mu­ni­ca­tions soft­ware in­clud­ing Skype and so­cial me­dia plat­forms to con­nect to fam­ily mem­bers.

“We’re see­ing peo­ple are happy at that mo­ment in time. They’re feel­ing sup­ported and a lit­tle less lonely,” Rudel said. “Cer­tainly, if you can’t have your fam­ily come in to visit, there’s a risk around lone­li­ness and I think this ef­fort has re­ally ad­dressed that.

“It’s been a proac­tive mea­sure to ad­dress the risk that could come from the lack of personal in­ter­ac­tion with your fam­ily.”

Fam­ily mem­bers, too, share a sense of re­lief see­ing their loved ones are safe.

Af­ter chat­ting online with her par­ents Bill and Fay Hud­gins, 93 and 94 years old, re­spec­tively, Lynda Des­marais said “it’s been re­ally hard not be­ing able to see them.”

“We are used to see­ing them a cou­ple of times a week,” she said. “The bur­den of not be­ing avail­able to them has been less­ened sig­nif­i­cantly be­cause of the help they are get­ting from the home.”

She said her brother, Reece Hud­gins, typ­i­cally shares a few jokes with their father dur­ing those vis­its to Gil­more Lodge in Fort Erie.

“He usu­ally reads them out loud dur­ing vis­its and they have a good laugh.”

Although Des­marais said her brother can’t visit their father per­son­ally, they are con­tin­u­ing to share jokes with the help of the re­de­ployed adult day pro­gram staff.

Joanne Vi­pari called it “in­spir­ing” to see the words of her mother Betty Jean Pauli, 86, shared online — re­as­sur­ing friends and fam­ily that she’s safe and happy de­spite be­ing un­der to­tal lock­down, un­able to have vis­i­tors or go out.

Pauli wrote that she and her fel­low res­i­dents at Deer Park Suites As­sisted Liv­ing “are do­ing our part to stay well, so hope ev­ery­one else takes care and does their part.

“To­gether we can lick this thing and maybe en­joy the nice weather com­ing. love to all my friends and rel­a­tives and keep well,” she wrote.

In an email, Vi­pari in­vited peo­ple who are “feel­ing in­con­ve­nienced by self-iso­la­tion and so­cial dis­tanc­ing” to put them­selves “in our el­derly pop­u­la­tions shoes.”

“If you don’t self-iso­late for your­self please do it for our nurses, doc­tors, all front-line work­ers and please do it for those like my mom,” Vi­pari wrote.

A memo was is­sued to the Re­gion’s early child­hood ed­u­ca­tors last week, telling them their “skills can be uti­lized to sup­port other ar­eas of com­mu­nity service un­less we have a di­rec­tive to re­open child care.”

They, too, may find work at the se­niors homes.

“We’re see­ing peo­ple are happy at that mo­ment in time. They’re feel­ing sup­ported and a lit­tle less lonely.” CAROL RUDEL NI­A­GARA SE­NIORS COM­MU­NITY PRO­GRAM AD­MIN­IS­TRA­TOR


Bill and Fay Hud­gins speak with their grand­daugh­ter, Naomi O’Brien, with the help of re­de­ployed adult day pro­gram staff at Gil­more Lodge in Fort Erie.

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