As a concerned child of an elderly person, I feel compelled to respond to the letter published in your Dec. 21 edition, “Health care and heartbreak.” I would like to tell the story of my father’s journey from independence to being a resident in the first retirement home discussed in that letter.
In April of 2012, due to circumstances only in the hands of God, my father lost his wife of 65 years, moved from his home and his well-loved dog within a matter of days.
The Eastern Health placement staff found a place for him at a care facility in St. John’s.
The caring staff there did everything possible to make Dad’s transition from his old life to this new dependency as easy as it could be. One of the staff even adopted Dad’s little canine companion and gave him a new and wonderful home with his own family with visiting privileges for Dad. The staff there provided emotional support, not only to Dad but to his family, during a very difficult transition time for us all. Their professionalism was beyond reproach.
Once Mom passed away, they had a single room waiting for Dad to move into rather than stay in the double room where he and Mom were intended to spend the rest of their lives together.
Such caring only comes from the heart.
I will not say that this was a perfect situation as that would not be true.
Most of the other residents were not as mobile nor as mentally fit as Dad. Though he made friends, he found the situation difficult for socialization. There were some minor administration issues that were settled with time and patience; however, the most important issues of Dad’s care and support were discussed openly and respectfully by the administration and support staff and were put into place quickly and efficiently. The food was not Mom’s home cooking for sure, but was tasty, nutritious and plentiful. There were always choices and Dad certainly was never hungry or dissatisfied with the meals.
Dad, however, was not happy there because he was away from his home in Conception Bay South and it was difficult for a soft-hearted man like him to see his new friends who were suffering in ways he found hard to understand.
After six months, he transferred to the very same facility where Yvonne Lundrigan’s mother later came to stay. While I cannot speak for her personal experiences, I can certainly speak for mine.
From before Dad’s arrival, he and his family were made welcome and to feel that my dad was the most important person in the world. Dad could choose his own physician, so he is now a patient of the doctor who looked after him and Mom for years before.
The management made sure that Dad was comfortable in his new surroundings, even helping his family hang family photos and art work to make his room as much like his old home as possible. They continue to discuss his needs with him and his family on a regular basis.
The kitchen staff do their very best to accommodate different likes and dislikes.
There is certainly a set menu (and yes, sometimes hot dogs are served — people like hot dogs), however if a resident doesn’t like or want what is on the menu, the kitchen staff prepare something else for them by request.
The housekeeping staff are the best around, as far as I'm concerned. Dad’s room and bathroom (as all others) are cleaned daily and more often, if necessary.
When he was sick, his room and/or bathroom were cleaned as often as five times a day and his bedding was changed as often as needed to make him more comfortable. His laundry is done twice a week and receives special attention when required, i.e. pre-soaking and hand washing.
The personal care staff are diligent in making sure he has his medications, as prescribed, are administered on time and in the proper doses. His personal care requirements are monitored and discussed with family members as needed.
If assistance is needed for anything — walking, bathing, shaving or anything else — he is accommodated.
Each and every staff member of this facility carry out their duties with a smile for everyone and with obvious love for their jobs and their charges. My father, for the first time since Mom passed away, feels at home. His family feel he is safe and very well cared for. The administration and staff of this facility deserve praise and thanks for the difficult jobs they do every day for the residents in their charge. One unhappy resident or family member should not be the measuring stick for what is certainly one of the best retirement care facilities in this province.
Glenda Bartlett writes from
Conception Bay South.