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Patients Residents & Families

COVID-19: Designated Care Partner and Family Stories

Next year, there will be two birthday cakes!

Written by Diane L - Designated Care Partner - Saint-Vincent Hospital

 

My 84-year-old father, was very recently diagnosed with cancer and it was a shock to our entire family. My father has never been ill and has always been active, he enjoys his walks, he is a great cook and is an amazing gardener. My father is a wonderful man, a kind soul, who loves his vegetable garden that he starts from seedlings and gradually brings them outdoors until they are ready to be planted in his garden. He also has the most amazing red dahlias, that almost look like roses, they are admired by all the neighbours and have been for many, many years!! My father’s diagnosis was much more difficult due to Covid-19 restrictions, my mother has not been able to see him since just after Christmas, they have been married for 56 years and have never been apart. Their daily phone calls always put a smile on my father's face, and he misses her dearly.

 

My father's 1st day at St. Vincent Hospital, was his 84th birthday, the staff made the day extra special for him, they made my dad a card and everyone signed it, it warms my heart.  He talks about the card and it was a simple gesture, however, it meant the world to our family. We were sad that we were not able to be with him to enjoy some cake, but we all tell him next year, we will get 2 cakes!!!  birthday cake

 

The 14-day quarantine was difficult for my dad, he couldn't leave his room and for a man that loves to walk and chat, it was especially challenging. Thank goodness, he has a lovely room with 2 bright, sunny windows!  And again, the staff, was amazing during this time, they would remind him, that every day is that much closer to the last day of the quarantine. My father would say that he felt like a bird in a cage and all he wanted to do was go for a walk!  He now enjoys his daily walks and chatting with his friends he has met there.  

 

In the past, visiting a family member in a hospital was welcomed by all, it was beneficial for the patient and for their loved one's, to hold their hand, to hug, to cry or simply to share a smile! With Covid-19, you are likely unable to visit your loved one, which makes it quite lonely for everyone. I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to be a Designated Care Partner at St. Vincent Hospital and I am immensely grateful. I can now visit with my father, seeing him through my mask & shield, he cannot always see my tears, they are happy tears, that I can spend time with him, talking about his beloved garden and how he will soon be able to tend to his dahlia's again!!!  He recently asked me to give him a haircut, it was a little difficult while wearing gloves, shield and mask, but I managed!  In these few months, while in hospital, my father had grown a beard, I have never seen my father with a beard and when he asked a staff member to shave it off, he didn't hesitate, he plugged in that electric shaver and before I knew it, my dad looked like his old self again....

 

For the next few months, my father will call Saint-Vincent's home and the staff there is like family and when you cannot visit with your loved one's, that takes on an even more meaningful role, my father tells me every day, how kind, respectful and considerate everyone there is.

 

I am at a loss of words for the outstanding care, kindness and support that has been provided to our family at St. Vincent Hospital.  The entire staff is exceptional, always ready to assist and offer a helping hand, which means the world to us, they genuinely care and love their jobs.

 

An invaluable role in providing care to a loved one

Written by Ruth S. - Designated Care Partner - Saint-Vincent Hospital 

 

The DCP has had an extremely beneficial impact not only on Al, but also on myself and the lives of our children. When the first wave of COVID hit and we were unable to come to Saint-Vincent’s to see Al, it was devastating. He is non-verbal due to his tracheostomy and we felt disconnected from him in that we could not just pick up the phone and talk to him to ask him how he was feeling. The nurses and support staff did a wonderful job of taking care of him, and I would be remiss if I did not mention how much we appreciated the work done by Lindsay who organized FaceTime calls so that Al could hear my voice and I could see his face. Not only did Al feel isolated and alone, but so did I. This was the first time in 55 years that we had been separated.

PPE

 

As a DCP, I am able to contribute by providing a lot of the daily care for Al which then frees up some time for the nurse assigned to him. As he is non-verbal and does not have a device to assist him with communicating, I can interpret a lot of what he is trying to say by being there in person.

 

I have been told by many of the nurses and other support staff that Al’s engagement level and demeanour has greatly improved since I have been able to be with him. The nurses have repeatedly told me that Al was disinterested, sad and just not engaged during the first stage of COVID. Since then, many have commented that he is much happier, more engaged and more like himself. I cannot stress enough that being separated due to COVID, although necessary, created stress, anxiety and depression for our whole family who have always been extremely close. We are so grateful for the opportunity to once again be together.

 

Because I am with him for six hours a day, I can bring things to the attention of the nurses that otherwise might not be picked up on right away. An example of this would be something that happened on Tuesday, March 2nd.  Al had not had a temperature first thing in the morning. Around 11:00am, he looked flushed and was pointing to his belly. He was able to let me know that he was experiencing discomfort. I rang for the nurse and she responded immediately, and I was able to explain to her the symptoms that he had presented – looking flushed, feeling warm, complaining of abdominal pain. She reacted immediately and contacted the doctor, resulting in tests being ordered. This is particularly relevant as he was hospitalized in June 2020 with cholangitis.

 

Having been with Al every day since his stroke, I have lived through this horrible disease with him, have the knowledge of what he has been through and how he has previously reacted/responded, and I can tell when he’s just not himself. I acknowledge that his medical history is all in his file, but the nurses will have to go looking through the file to find the information. I have been able to work together with the nurses as a team with respect to Al’s care.

 

I am grateful for the opportunity to participate in this program it has made a huge difference in Al’s and I’s life.

 

Benefits of the Designated Care Partners Program

Written by Kevin - Designated Care Partner - Saint-Vincent Hospital

 

This past year dealing with COVID and support to elderly parents has been a challenge for us all. Restrictions designed to protect our loved ones often meant isolation and loneliness as well as the family feeling helpless and disconnected. Recently, my stepfather was placed at Bruyère’s Saint-Vincent Hospital.

 

To date, I have been very impressed on the approach at Bruyère. First, they have implemented a Designated Care Provider (DCP) program which allows 2 people to be designated in this role (family member, friend etc.). Before being accepted as a DCP, their is mandatory training that frankly has been excellent in preparing someone to take on the DCP role. Specifically, an element of the program is designed to train the DCP on how to properly use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). I found this training eye opening, in that, clearly I had not been applying PPE in the most safest way to help protect the spread of the virus. I think this program could be reused my numerous health care organizations to ensure a fundamental basis understanding is obtained on PPE best practices and I applaud the Bruyere team for creating this program.  

 

The second item is recently we had a family meeting with my stepfather and his Saint-Vincent care team (doctor, nurse, social worker, physiotherapist). This meeting was also excellent as we were able to update my stepfather on his treatment plans, and provide the opportunity for any questions with everyone present at the same time. While still a challenging environment, I am happy to know that I am educated, ready, and able to work with the Saint-Vincent team on the best possible care for my stepfather.

 

Family inspiration and moral support

Witten by Ange H - Clinical Manager at Saint-Vincent Hospital 

 

Patient was living with her daughter before she was admitted Saint-Vincent Hospital to our wound and Low-intensity rehabilitation program in January, 2021. After admission and due to no visitor restrictions the patient became withdrawn, would refused to participate in therapies and patient started to have poor appetite. She always stayed in her room, we assigned a unit support work to visit patient in room for companionship and helped facetime her daughter, some days it was working however the team did not see functional improvement during therapies.

 

We discussed this matter in our team round as the patient was not participating in therapies and it was reported on several occasion that the patient was asking about if her daughter could come to see her at the hospital. The team suggested the patient and daughter would benefit in the designated care program. Patient’s daughter received her training on January 30th, 2021.

 

Daughter started coming in to visit patient we noticed some improvement since her daughter became a designated care partner. Patient participated in all her therapies. Patient was eating well. Her mood improved significantly, patient was engaged in conversation with the team, she was looking forward for her therapies days in the presence of her daughter. She started gaining functional mobility walking around the room with walker, patient was able to take stairs with supervision. On February 18th, 2021 patient was safely discharge home under her daughter’s care.

 

The lockdown, the isolation has affected our patients however since the DCP program started at SVH I have noticed improvement in patient mood behavior. The DCP come to visit their loved one and they are very involved in their personal care which reduces workload for nursing staff. They are also present for emotional support which they strongly need during this time. I am so very glad we have this program now as it has improved patient’s quality of care and I hope this will continue for the future.

 

Praise God

Written by Carmen - Designated Care Partner - Saint-Vincent Hospital

 

Since my son's Dec 2019 accident, I visited my son at the Ottawa Civic Complex almost daily. Family and friends came regularly--so heartwarming and encouraging to me and family. My husband/his step-father stayed a while but had to leave to look after matters at home, 6 hrs away. He came back for me and we both returned back home Feb 23.21.
 
March 26, 2020 we received a call from The Ottawa Hospital Civic Complex, my son was exposed to an employee who tested positive for Covid-19 so he was quarantined 14 days. We praised God with many, he did not contract it. When it came time to discharge our son to a long-term care facility, it was highly recommended and so insisted he be moved to Bruyère Saint-Vincent Hospital, one hour from his home. That move required another quarantine & we praise God, again, that he did not contract Covid-19 and that he was moved there.

 

We were not able to visit for months. My sister and husband filled in for us many times along with friends and family. Then visitations stopped all together because of Covid-19 and distance of family and friends and limit of one visitor per patient made it harder for visitors. Friends and relatives came intermittently until lockdowns. He was not visited for days, turning into months. We were so thankful for the Unit Support Workers hired to help with video calls, haircuts, nails, etc. -- a very needed help while the extra precautions added more work for care providers.
 
In November, I learned about the Designated Care Partner (DCP) program and registered for training and orientation. I received a call first on December 23rd for training and orientation later scheduled for January 30, 2021, and I have been back in Ottawa since then visiting 6 days out of 7 for 4 to 7 hours daily. I am so grateful for this DCP program. Every health care facility needs this option for their patients and loved ones!!! We need to be there for our loved ones.
 
How we are living through it?


Dec23.19 while waiting in ICU waiting room to see Jeff, the research nurse came by and asked, "How are you doing?"

 

person praising god

Carmen: "I'm doing good."
Nurse: "There's a peace about you."
Carmen: Yes, I've learned that when I give my burdens to God, he promises His peace. He wants to fight our battles. I believe in God of miracles. I researched brain injuries and amazing recovery stories and I am believing God for that."
Nurse: We don't see that kind of faith anymore.
Carmen: It comes from reading His Word and hearing His Word.
 
I am so grateful for God, His Word/Jesus & Holy Spirit--His peace, His promises... He is so worthy to be praised! So I start and end everyday with praises and many additional in-betweens. I learned this by inviting God into the darkest time of my life. And I am forever grateful for the difference He made and makes when He sheds His power, His love, light, Word, truth, miracles, grace and mercy. The author and finisher of our faith--He has rewritten my story. I continually praise Him. Not necessarily for the bad things, but for the learning, for the working out for the best, for the beauty He gives for our ashes...
 
Miracle #1, when doctors and nurses said they believed our son would not make it alive, when transported to the Ottawa Hospital Civic Complex--We so praise the LORD, he did!!! <3

 

God has saved our lives. For that and the helpers along the way..., I am so grateful! It is a journey I choose to praise God in as He is bigger than all our cares, concerns, lack, burdens, finances... and He directs our steps.