The angels among us

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My father died a couple of weeks ago after an eight-year fight with dementia.

It's been a long, rough road for Dad and our family as the disease slowly made a 220-pound man disappear.

For me, his final nine days were the toughest part of the journey.

He spent that time in palliative care and my family kept a round-the-clock, bedside vigil.

Dad was so weak everyone expected him to pass within three or four days, but the tough old bugger hung on well past that.

The longer he lasted, the more trying it became.

It was emotionally and physically exhausting, and I can't even begin to think what it was like on my father without going completely numb.

He couldn't talk or move, but he knew we were there.

There was one bright light that shone throughout the ordeal - it came from the staff on Partridgeberry Place South at the Corner Brook Long Term Care Facility.

It's hard to put into words what the nurses, licensed practical nurses and housekeeping staff there did for us.

During Dad's almost two years at the home, the staff were always super to him, as well as to my mother and sister, who live in Corner Brook and visited a couple of times every day.

But when death was near and imminent, they raised their game. They embraced my family and became our angels.

Not because of their selfless and constant offers to help and get us anything we needed, which was really, really appreciated.

No, they became our angels because of their care, concern and compassion.

The staff made sure Dad was as comfortable as possible through medication and ensuring he didn't stay in the same position too long.

They kept him clean, groomed and in fresh clothes and bedding.

Most importantly, they spoke to him with love and respect.

For my family and I, the crew at Partridgeberry Place South stopped to smile, to listen, to comfort and to share their experiences with palliative care.

They were a constant presence and quickly became part of our extended family.

Some of them even cared enough to take time off work and drive to Dad's funeral 50 kilometres away in Deer Lake.

I filled up when they walked in, and the waterworks are starting again as I remember the sight of them coming through the door.

My sister acknowledged them during the service, saying things didn't feel right until Dad's other family was there.

It takes a special person to work in long-term and palliative care. The staff we encountered were very, very, special.

I'm sure, for the most part, the women and men who work in homes and hospitals across the province are the same.

It's important we acknowledge that and the support they give, because none of us know when we'll need them to help us through a difficult time.

 

Reach Steve Bartlett by email at sbartlett@thetelegram.com or follow his tweets at @TelegramSteve.

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Recent comments

  • marjorie lpn,
    April 04, 2013 - 18:33

    so nice to see the families post such kind words about the staff, ive worked in a long term care home for 15 years, and the love and kindess that i get every day from the residents i care for it warms my heart. and to see that the families know how much we truly care for their love ones makes our jobs so much easier

  • Ada Campbell Chow
    April 03, 2013 - 16:25

    So sad about your father but a very beautiful tribute to some truly deserving people.

  • maxine park
    March 29, 2013 - 12:07

    I'm proud to say i have 2 daughters working there and a grand daughter.....so nice to see people appreciate the hard work they do..and they enjoy every moment !!!

  • Carolyn Winsor Pittman
    March 29, 2013 - 10:56

    When I read this article, I couldn't help but be reminded of when our family went through the same with our dad - dementia (and again a year later with our mom - cancer) and experienced the same kind of care and compassion from all the staff at the Green Bay Health Care Centre, better known to us as the 'Springdale Hospital' - they showed to us why it is so important to keep these facilities staffed as they are....everything they did for us came so natural to them! Thanks again - you're awesome!!

  • Christine
    March 29, 2013 - 09:23

    So beautifully written... you brought tears to my eyes! God bless!

  • CbRN
    March 29, 2013 - 09:05

    Thank you for sharing this story, it warmed my heart, and brought tears to my eyes. Glad to hear these angles were able to ease your sorrows, even if just a bit, in your time of need.

  • gladys blundon
    March 29, 2013 - 05:28

    My mom is on this same floor....she suffered a stroke back in 2009...she was in the hospital until being moved to this facility on june 26 2010....Since then, our family have come in contact with a wonderful and caring bunch of people from administration,cleaners , doctors,nurses and pca's.. The people that our family have encountered as been like our rock and comfort thru an uphill and downhill battle...We bought mom home for her 75th birthday via ambulance, as all her mobility was lost when this disease hit her.. One of the nurses volunteered to give up her day and make the trip home for the day with mom as she couldn't be released without a nurse to assist her for the day..This special angel as become a true part of our family and we all love her to pieces.. At one point throughout mom's birthday party;I looked through the window and saw one of the cleaners and her husband pull into the garden and upon getting out of the car, she said " there wasen't anyway was I not going to be part of her special day". Here are two examples of compassion and caring staff from this facility. Our family have been so blessed in this respect, where we can leave our mom in the care of those fantastic people, who have become such an important part of our family and whom we all love so much, including mom herself.. God bless each and every one. The Cumby families

    • gladys blundon
      September 16, 2013 - 23:41

      well mom finally passed a week ago tonight..and the care, compassion, love and devotion were still the same as given her in the beginning...Today I even received a personalized sympathy card from Dr. Nagi Boulash...Those people are truly angels on earth......and to walk out of the church behind the casket and see two of mom's caregivers standing in the side lines made the funeral more beautiful, if there's any such thing as a beautiful funeral..To all those at the long term care facility, you will always be anels on earth to our family and we love you each and everyone..

  • Debbie Pike
    March 27, 2013 - 20:39

    I am so proud to say my two sisters worked there.... One is now retired and the other is now working in the western.

  • Mary Ellwood
    March 27, 2013 - 19:19

    I know from first hand experience that these wonderful people who take care of our seniors are angels on earth. God bless everyone of them. I hope they have somebody wonderful to take care of them when they get to that stage too.

  • brenda connors
    March 27, 2013 - 19:01

    I work on housekeeping in a long care facility for the past 31 years and i hear you. we as staff become family to our residents and their families. I love seniors and spending time with with them and their families during good time and bad.. Anything that I can do, I do it. It is only comes natural. I have went to many a funerals during my years there. I wish that I could have been there for you too. Take care and God bless.