Wales Home staff helps residents adapt to new reality

By Michael Boriero – Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Staff at the Wales Home assisted living and long-term care facility in Richmond, Quebec are staying vigilant, even with the Quebec government continuing to loosen health and safety measures.
Doug Perkins called the procedures at the home simple but stringent. His mother, Eileen Perkins, has been living there as an independent resident for 10 years. Since the facility reopened to outside visitors, Perkins said there are certain steps to take before heading in.
“They want to know when you walk in, the time, the room you’re going to and when you leave, and this is all for tracing if something happens,” he explained, adding that visitors must wear a mask, wash their hands and disinfect before entering the building.
During stage one of reopening, Perkins continued, visitors were given gowns to cover their outside clothes. They were personally escorted in and out of the building by a staff member. Visitors also needed to make an appointment before entering the Wales Home.
While appointments are no longer mandatory, people are asked to sign in and out, which is understandable given the circumstances, Perkins said. Visitors either need to stay in a residents’ room or meet outside. They must keep a physical distance and always wear a mask.
At the height of the pandemic, Perkins was calling his mother every day for nearly three months. He said that seeing her for the first time felt like a weight lifted off his shoulders. But he also noticed a change in her demeanour.
“In her case she took it pretty hard, she’s still not well from it, let’s put it that way,” said Perkins. “She had some health issues, and this was very hard on her, some people dealt with it better than others.”
It was hard on all of the residents, but more so for the residents considered to be mobile and independent, he added. They lost access to all of the home’s amenities and entertainment. They weren’t able to go from one floor to another, or head to the cafeteria.
“People that were used to being involved in all the activities these homes have because these homes have bingo, card parties, happy hour, well, that all stopped. That was what was the hardest on them,” Perkins said.
But he acknowledged that this is a different world, and everything they did through the peak of COVID-19 was necessary to keep the virus out of the Wales Home. He lauded the staff for wearing masks for eight hours a day and staying positive.
Perkins said that from his experience inside the Wales Home, the staff is staying sharp and working hard to keep the residents comfortable and safe. And that vigilance has kept one resident in high spirits, despite all of the negativity surrounding the virus.
Another 83-year-old resident, who asked to remain anonymous due to his hatred of the limelight, lives in an apartment with his wife. They’re both independent and active, so going into quarantine was a major change in their daily routines.
But it didn’t weigh as heavily on the elderly couple. They had to remain in their own units, which was upsetting at first, but he said the entertainment department has been working overtime for the last several months. They run activities in individual units, rather than groups.
“It’s just a relief that nobody has tested positive here,” he said during a phone interview. “The staff have been tested, a number of the residents have been tested; not all of the residents, I haven’t been tested but we’ve had no signs.”
The man added that residents are once again allowed to eat in the cafeteria, albeit respecting the two-metre distance rule. He and his wife frequently go on walks and look at the farm animals. While the situation still isn’t perfect, he feels safe at the Wales Home.
“Well, you must remember that the staff here is excellent, they go beyond the requirements, they’re always very pleasant with us and it stems down from the administration,” he concluded.



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