How has your daily routine changed during the pandemic?
Prior to the pandemic I left the property frequently. Now, I am not allowed to leave. I used to enjoy going for a walk around the block, going to Tim Horton’s for a coffee, or going home where I used to live with my partner for the day. By going out frequently, I was exercising and socializing which is key to my well-being. Now that I am not allowed to leave the property, my strength has decreased and my mental and emotional wellness has declined.
How have the visitation restrictions affected you?
This is the part that has affected my life the most. Prior to the pandemic my partner would visit me every day. She would come into the building and spend time with me in my room. We love each other very much and thrive off of our close relationship. At the beginning of the pandemic, we had window visits and then as things progressed we had outdoor visits. A recent change in the home’s visitation policy has now restricted our visits to once per week. This has impacted my mental health significantly. My depression has gotten worse, I am lashing out at staff and other residents, and am simply not me anymore.
What do you want the people making decisions about long-term care homes to know?
I would like the decision makers to know that not everyone living in long-term care is elderly with a cognitive impairment. I am young (61) and am fully cognitive. The only reason I am living here is because have Spina Bifida and require help with personal care. I want to be able to make more choices, have privacy and independence. I feel that the policies here are geared towards the cognitively impaired elderly and that is not me. I do not want to have to abide by the same rules. I feel there are too many restrictions placed upon me.
What do you think was done right?
This home has not had one single case of COVID-19. They closed the doors right away and practised impeccable infection control. I am very grateful we have not had an outbreak here.
What do you wish had been done differently?
I feel that all homes need to have affordable private rooms. If my roommate was not feeling well, I was forced into isolation. I found this very frustrating. Being in isolation meant I had even more restrictions than usual most importantly not being able to come out of my room to have a visit with my spouse. She is the single most important thing in my life and not seeing her everyday is killing me.