Connecting seniors in long-term care homes during the COVID-19 pandemic

OTTAWA — Residents at a long-term care home in Ottawa are taking an innovative approach to reconnect with family and friends during exceptionally difficult and lonesome times. 

At the Medex long-term care home on Baseline Road, they have managed to stave off COVID-19 cases among residents, but when quarantines are in place, it means families cannot visit and residents can no longer meet for their beloved activities and conversations. 

Beatrice Duncan and Barry Lemoine are co-presidents of the residence run counsel. The group along with other residents independently organize activities and fundraisers. The counsel also raises money to support initiatives within the home.

Living through a pandemic in long-term care can take its toll. Lemoine says it’s very lonesome when everything shuts down. Duncan agrees, adding the challenge is not being able to meet in a group. 

At the height of the pandemic when many facilities were locked down, even simple activities like going down the hall to visit another person became impossible. All you could do was wave hello. 

The council decided they would raise money to put a tablet in the hands of all 173 residents. They started a GoFundMe with the help of staff

“It’s for everybody’s benefit,” says Lemoine. “Not only are you going to be able to talk to people within the building but you will be able to go outside the building, not physically but technically, and talk to other people, your own family.”

Currently residents can take part in some activities like bingo but live entertainment is impossible. Recreation aid Teresa Craig hopes the tablets will help connect residents who are separated from loved ones, especially as the holidays approach. Craig says it will add much joy to be able to virtually see family members when they are eating and be able to share a meal together. 

For Duncan she wants nothing more than to see her daughter and 13-year-old granddaughter, who live in Toronto. 

“I would be quite happy to be able not only to speak to them but to see them.”

And as trying as the situation is for residents, Lemoine recognizes the efforts of every employee who works to keep them safe. 

“it’s incredible to watch on a daily basis they’ve gone out of their way whenever possible to change things they’ve done a darn good job.”

Donations can also be dropped off at 1865 Baseline Roador by calling 613-225-5650. 

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